Cowpea Early Lady.producttitle

Cowpea Early Lady

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Cowpea Early Lady (60 days) Sustainably Grown

seedSeed package contains 12 grams

Cowpea is a bush type plant that produces heavy yields of long pods. Early Lady variety has 13 to 16 light tan peas per pod.  This may be a real Southern favorite, but these cowpeas were grown right here in Northern California.  So, yes you can have your Cowpeas and eat them too!

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.), an annual legume, is also commonly referred to as southern pea, black-eyed pea, crowder pea, lubia, niebe, coupe or frijole. Cowpea originated in Africa and is widely grown in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and in the southern United States. It is chiefly used as a grain crop, for animal fodder, or as a vegetable. The history of cowpea dates to ancient West African cereal farming, 5 to 6 thousand years ago, where it was closely associated with the cultivation of sorghum and pearl millet.

The protein in cowpea seed is rich in the amino acids, lysine and tryptophan.  Compared to cereal grains, however, it is deficient in methionine and cystine when compared to animal proteins. Therefore, cowpea seed is valued as a nutritional supplement to cereals and an extender of animal proteins.

Cowpeas can be used at all stages of growth as a vegetable crop. The tender green leaves are an important food source in Africa and are prepared as a pot herb, like spinach. Immature snapped pods are used in the same way as snapbeans, often being mixed with other foods. Green cowpea seeds are boiled as a fresh vegetable, or may be canned or frozen. Dry mature seeds are also suitable for boiling and canning.

In many areas of the world, the cowpea is the only available high quality legume hay for livestock feed. Digestibility and yield of certain cultivars have been shown to be comparable to alfalfa. Cowpea may be used green or as dry fodder. It is also used as a green manure crop, a nitrogen fixing crop, or for erosion control. Similar to other grain legumes, cowpea contains trypsin inhibitors which limit protein utilization.

Cowpea is a warm-season crop well adapted to many areas of the humid tropics and temperate zones. It tolerates heat and dry conditions, but is intolerant of frost. Germination is rapid at temperatures above 65°F; colder temperatures slow germination.

Cowpeas are grown under both irrigated and non-irrigated regimes. The crop responds positively to irrigation but will also produce well under dryland conditions. Cowpea is more drought resistant than common bean. Drought resistance is one reason that cowpea is such an important crop in many underdeveloped parts of the world. If irrigation is used, more vegetative growth and some delay in maturity may result. Application rates should insure that the crop is not over-watered, especially in more northern latitudes, as this will suppress growth by lowering soil temperatures. The most critical moisture requiring period is just prior to and during bloom.

Source Purdue University

Seed Planting Depth

Germination Temperature

Days to Germination

Row Spacing

Plant Spacing

100' Row Yield


.75-1.5" 75 7-10 4-6" 4-6" 24-50 lb. (fresh) Full

Planting Tips:

50-60 days for green, 100+ days for dry beans.  Boost yields and germination by adding inoculants.

Avoid planting in soil that stays wet.  Heirloom bean disease thrive in wet conditions, and the roots may not get enough oxygen.

Heirloom beans like soil that is slightly acid, about 6.5.  This can be achieved by adding mulched pine needles, peat moss or sulfur. 

Try wide row growing for beans.  Make your heirloom bean rows three across instead of just one.  Three wide is perfect because most people can reach across that width.  You can grow 3 times the amount of heirloom beans in the same space, you reduce the amount of area for weeds, and you'll save on water.

Heirloom seeds are hardy but always take care with your garden seeds to give them the appropriate amount of moisture - not letting the vegetable seeds dry out prematurely or overwatering and possibly having them rot.


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