Cowpea is a quick growing leguminous forage crop usually grown mixed with cereal fodders and grasses to improve the nutritive value of the herbage. It is an excellent cover crop, which suppresses weeds and enriches the soil. Cowpea can be grown under partial shade conditions. It can be grown in kharif as well s in zaid reason. Cowpea fodder is very rich and nutritious fodder. It contains 20-24% crude protein, 43-49%neutral detergent fibre, 34-37% acid detergent fibre, 23-25%,cellulose and 5-6% hemicelluloses on dry matter basis. The digestibility of cowpea fodder is above 70%.
- SOIL CONDITIONS
Cowpea can be grown on variety of soils. The plants preference light soils. Loam and sandy loam soils with good drainage are conducive to good crop growth.
Varieties// Areas of cultivation// Green fodder (t/ha) IGFRI-450= North India- 30-40, UPC-5287= North India- 35-40, IFC-8503, EC-4216= North, west and central India- 30-40, UPC-5286= Whole country- 30-45, IFC-8401= Whole country- 30-45, UPC-4200= North-East region- 35-45, GFC-1,2 & 3= Gujarat- 25-35, Sheweta= Maharashtra- 30-35, ((Field preparation)) Field should be prepared by two crosswise harrowing and planking so as to get a levelled and weed free seed bed for quick germination and faster initiate growth.
- SEED & SOWING
((Seed rate and sowing method))
The sowing should be done in lines at an inter row spacing of 25-30 cm using a seed rate of 35-40kg/ha.The seed should be sown with seed drill or behind the plough at 2-3 cm depth. Thinning operation may be done after germination to maintain interrow spacing of 5-8 cm between plants.
Cowpea requires warm climate with good atmospheric humidity. ItsSowing time extends from March to middle of July. In irrigated areas sowing can be done during summer while in rainfed areas, it can be done after commencement of rains. In southern region, sowing of crop for fodder may be done throughout the year.
Cowpea is a leguminous crop and capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen. However, for good growth 20 Kg N+60 Kg P205/ha should be applied at time of sowing for good crop growth. In sulphur deficient soil (below 10ppm) 20-40 kg Sulphur per hectare is recommended for quality fodder biomass.
Summer sown crop requires 6-7 irrigations at 8-10 days interval. Normally the monsoon crop does not require irrigation except in case of long dry spells in which the crop should be irrigated at an interval of 10-12 days.
- WEED MANAGEMENT
In general kharif crops are densely infested with weeds due to conductive wealth for growth. In cowpea, the weed problem is severe in early stages. After 30 days the crops cover the area and problem is minimized. Mechanical control: one manual weeding or hoeing with weeder cum mulcher at 3 weeks crop stage is effective to check weed growth. Chemical Control:Pre-plant soil incorporation of trifluralin @ 0.75 kg a.i. /ha has been found useful to arrest weed growth.
- HARVESTING & THRESHING
Summer crop should be harvested after 70-75 days of sowing. Rainy season crop is harvested after 50-60 days of sowing at 50% flowering stage.