Cowpea: Learn the uses, origin, cultivars, cultivation, manuring, inter-culture & harvesting


Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is one of the major vegetables as well as legume crop grown as both summer & rainy season crop. generally, it is grown for green pods, dry seeds, & fodder. It is famous as vegetable meat since it contains 23-28% protein. Cowpea is rich in carbohydrate, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin A and C.


Cowpea is considered to be originated from Central Africa. (Thompson & Kelly 1957)


  • Vigorously growing annual plant with strong tap root system.
  • Most of commercial varieties are bush type but climbing types are also found.
  • Possess white, auxiliary, and 2-3 flowers on each peduncle.
  • Pods are 20 – 30 cm long, cylindrical, slightly curved, and usually in cluster.


  1. Pole type:
  • Khumal Tane: Recommended for mid hills & Terai of Nepal.
  • Sarlahi Tane: Recommended for mid hills & Terai of Nepal.
  • Arka Garima
  • Yard long Bean
  1. Bush type:
  • Prakash: Recommended for Terai & inner-Terai of Nepal.
  • Akash: Recommended for Terai & inner-Terai of Nepal.
  • Pusa Phalungi
  • Pusa dofasli

Cultivation technique:


Cowpea is hardy & drought tolerant crop but it is susceptible to cold weather. It is warm season crop with temperature range of 21-35 degree Celsius. Cultivars grown for immature pods are known as Yard long bean, Asparagus bean, Bodi bean, snake bean. When temperature increases above 35degree or below 15 degree Celsius, growth, flowering & fruiting are drastically reduced.


It can be grown in all types of soil having pH range of 6.0-7.5. well drained, humus rich sandy soils are best for cowpea. It cannot withstand heavy rainfall & water logging condition. So, drainage facility must be maintained.

Sowing time:

Geographical regions Sowing time Harvesting time
High Hills March-April June-August
Mid Hills January-April




Terai Summer: Mid Feb-March

Rainy: Mid-June-July




Prior to sowing, the seed should be inoculated with Rhizobium culture to increase the ability to fix the atmospheric nitrogen. It can be grown as mixed crop with maize during rainy season.

Seed rate & Spacing:

Seed rate & spacing depend upon the cultivars & season. The following seed rate & spacing is followed:


Pole type: 80-90 * 20-25 (cm * cm)

Bush type: 45 * 10-15 (cm * cm)

Seed rate:

Pole type: 30-40 kg/ha

Bush type: 20-25 kg/ha

Manuring & fertilization:

Though it is leguminous crop, it responds well to application of fertilizers. The recommended dose is 25 tons of well decomposed FYM during field preparation. Similarly, apply 80: 120: 100 kg NPK/ha where half of nitrogen with full dose of phosphorus & potassium is applied at sowing time & remaining half dose of nitrogen is applied after 3rd week of sowing.

calculate the required amount of fertilizer here.

  Irrigation & Inter-culture:

It is shallow rooted crop which requires less moisture for growth which is sensitive with water logging condition. Irrigation prior to flowering helps in pod setting and another irrigation should be given after the pod has set.

One hoeing should be done about 4 weeks after sowing to control weeds & help in aeration. Spraying of Maleic Hydrazide of 50-200 ppm just before flowering increase the yields of pods.

For climbing type cultivars, support of bamboos & G.I wires should be provided for better growth & good quality green pods.


Green pods should be harvested when they are tender. Harvesting should be done at short intervals before the pods become fibrous & unfit for market. They become ready for harvest 60-70 days of sowing. Bushy varieties give 4-5 pickings, but pole type give 8-9 pickings of harvest.


The yield of cowpea varies from cultivars & growing seasons. Generally, bush type produces 3-5 tons of green pods whereas pole type produces 4-8 tons of green pods per hectare.

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