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Subject: Agricultural Science
Topic: Production of Cowpea (Vigna ungulculata)
Lesson Objectives: At the end of the lesson, learners should be able to:
i. Explain the process of producing cowpea,
ii. State the varieties of Cowpea,
iii. Discuss the stages involved in Cowpea Production.
Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an annual herbacious legume from the genus Vigna and the whole plant is used as forage.
Origin: It is a native of West Africa and India.
Uses: Cowpea serves as food to man and livestock. As a cover crop, it enriches the soil with nitrate-nitrogen. It is used in dye production in India and may be incorporated into the soil as green manure.
Ecological Requirements: Cowpea is adapted to well-drained sandy or clayey loam soil with appropriate soil inoculating bacteria. It tends to thrive best where there is high temperature and evenly distributed rainfall of 750 – 1500mm. Heavy rainfall and high soil fertility extend the vegetative growth of the crop.
Land preparation: It requires well tilted seedbed with a fine tilth. The seedbed should be prepared just before sowing as Cowpea does not stand a state seedbed. Sowing is usually on the flat.
Sowing: Cowpea is propagated from whole seeds and the methods of sowing include dibbing, drilling and broadcasting. Sow 1 – 2 seeds per hole to a depth of about 5cm.
Time of sowing: In Nigeria, it is sown from July to late August in the North and middle belt but in high rainfall areas (Southern Nigeria) September is the best time especially if it is needed for dry grains. This is because cowpea is a short-day plant, that is, it is sensitive to the photoperiod and under long day, goes without flowering. Some cultivars, e.g “Umudike Brown” are not photoperiod sensitive and may be planted in April – May in Southern Nigeria.
Spacing: The spacing for the trailing type is 30cm within rows and 75cm between rows while 30cm × 30cm spacing is adopted for the erect and semi-erect varieties.
Seed Rate: If drilling and dibbling were used for the trailing variety, the seed rate is in the range of 17 – 24 kg/ha but between 22 – 33kg/ha for the semi-erect and erect types. Broadcasting requires a seed rate of between 60 – 100kg/ha.
Fertilizer Application: Apply FYM/Compost manure or super-phosphate and muriate of potash at 168 – 450kg/ha in a ratio of 1:3. Broadcast and work in the fertilizer at ploughing or apply it at time of planting in a ring of 10cm away from the plant about 2 – 3 weeks from sowing.
Weeding: Weeding is done when the sun has come up so as to avoid breakages of the vines which are brittle in the morning.
Field Pest Control: To reduce floral abortion caused by insect infestation, spray Cowpea at the 4th and 6th weeks after planting with Vetox 85 at 56 – 85gm in 9 litres of water.
Maturity: This takes about 2 – 3 months as flowering occurs in about 40 – 60 days from sowing (depending on variety) and pods mature in 15 – 20 days from flowering.
Harvesting: Because flowering is in succession, harvesting is usually staggered where it is manually done. However, the crop is harvested when about 0.5 – 0.7 of the pods are mature.
Shelling: The pods are split to release the seeds which are then collected. The shelling percentage is between 65 – 75%.
Storage: Store Cowpea seeds in jute bags with protectant insecticides or in air-tight and insect free containers.
Marketing of produce: Cowpea seeds are sold locally in Nigeria markets.
Pests: Stigma, field insect pests, weevils and nematodes are the important pests of cowpea.
Diseases: The major diseases are mosaic, rootgalls, leaf spots and wilt.
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- Explain the process of producing cowpea.
- What are the varieties of Cowpea?
- Discuss the stages involved in Cowpea Production.
Questions answered correctly? Bravo!!