Southern Peas

Revised 9/97 -- Author Reviewed 9/97 HIL-20

Douglas C. Sanders
Extension Horticultural Specialist
Department of HorticulturalScience
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
North Carolina State University

Southern peas originated in India in prehistoric times and moved to Africa, then to America. In India Southern peas are known by 50 common names and in the United States are called "Field peas", "Crowder peas", "Cowpeas" and "blackeyes", but Southern peas is the preferred name.

Varieties - Recommended varieties for North Carolina.

Variety

Type(1)

Pod Color

Seed Color

Maturity
Days

Plant
Type(2)

Disease(3)
Resist

Comments(4)

MS Silver

SC

Silvery

Tan

70

NV

FN

GU, ES, EP

Colossus

C

Silver
-green

Brown

75

SV

FN

LS, flavor

MS Purple

SC

Purple

Brown
bunched pods

65

NV

FN

ES, GY, EP

Pinkeye
Purple Hull

SP

Purple

Cream

80

SV

--

SS, flavor

Texas Cream 12*

--

--

Cream

--

NV

FN

--

Queen Anne*

B

--

White

68

SV

--

GY, EP

Princess Anne*

B

--

White

--

SV

--

concentrated

Dixie Lee*

NC

Green

Brown

65

SV

N

Erect plants

*Suited for commercial production for processing
1CR = Crowder type -- seeds crowd closely in the pod; B = Blackeye -- named for the black spot at seed attachment to the pod; SC = Semi-crowder; SP =Small pea; NC = Non-crowder.
2NV = Non-vine or bush, pods usually bunched above the foliage; SV = Semi-vine, plants tend to spread to vine slightly.
3F = Fusarium wilt resistant; N = Nematode resistant.
4GY = Good yield; ES = Easy shelling; EP = Erect plant; LS = Large seed; SS = Small seed.


Soils - Most soils will produce a good crop, but medium fertility with pH of 5.8 to 6.5 is desirable. High fertility produces excessive vine growth and poor yields. Inoculants of N fixing bacteria may increase yield especially in soils where Southern peas have not been grown. Crop rotation or fumigation is important for nematode control.

Fertilization - Test your soil for lime and fertilizer needs. If you don't have a soil test see the table below:

Soil Fertility

Lb/A

Coastal Plain

Piedmont

Low

400

4-24-24

4-24-24

Medium

200

5-15-30

4-24-24

High

None

None

None

Apply fertilizer 7 to 10 days before planting; broadcast or in bands 3 to 4 inches deep and 2 to 3 inches from the seeds.

Seeding - Begin seeding when soil temperature reaches 60 0F and continue until 80 days before fall frost. Seeding too early causes poor stands and you may need to replant. Bush types should be seeded 4 to 6 per foot or 30 to 50 pounds of seed per acre for large seed. Vining types should be seeded 1 to 2 per foot or 20 to 30 pounds of seed per acre. Plant seeds 3/4 to 1 1/4 inch deep in rows spaced 20 to 42 inches apart depending on cultivation requirements.

Weed Control - Early weed control is important for good growth. Weeds can be controlled with shallow cultivation or by using herbicides. Consult N.C. Agricultural Chemicals Manual for current rates of all pesticides for southern peas.

Insect Control - Cowpea curculio is an insect which is a very serious pest of Southern peas. The insect looks like a boll weevil. It punctures the pod leaving a small scar that looks like a blister on the pod and leaves a speck on the peas. The curculio is especially bad in later plantings. This insect is controlled by making 3 insecticide applications at 5-day intervals of 1/2 to 1 pound active Thiodan when pods are 1/2 inch long. Southern peas may also be attacked by aphids, stink bugs, wire worm, lesser cornstalk borer, and seed corn maggot. Consult the N.C. Agricultural Chemicals Manual for current rates.

Diseases - Southern peas are often infected by root rots caused by Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, and Phythium. Downy and powdery mildew and some leaf blights also affect them.

Harvesting - Depending on variety and weather harvest will begin 65 to 80 days after seeding and continue for 3 to 5 weeks. Begin harvest when a few pods are beginning to turn yellow and harvest only pods with well formed peas. This is the best stage for shelling and eating.

Southern peas are sold in bushel hampers or mesh bags. Do not use burlap sacks because they are not properly ventilated. Southern peas weigh 30 pounds per bushel. One person can harvest 12 to 20 bushels per day if yields are average. Average production is 125 to 300 bushels per acre.


Published by

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service


Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.