Home Garden Southern Peas

Revised 1/01 -- Author Reviewed 1/01 HIL-8020

Douglas C. Sanders
Extension Horticultural Specialist
Department of Horticultural Science
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
North Carolina State University

Southern peas originated in India in prehistoric times, were then brought to Africa, and finally were brought 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 -- Table 1 shows the recommended varieties of Southern peas for North Carolina.

Table 1. Recommended varieties of Southern peas for North Carolina.

Variety*

Type1

Pod Color

Seed Color

Maturity Days

Plant Type

Disease Resistance

Comments

Mississippi Silver

SC

Silvery

Tan

70

N V

F N

Good yields, easy shelling, erect plants

Colossus

CR

Silver green

Brown

75

S V

F N

Large seed, good flavor

Mississippi Purple*

S C

Purple

Brown

65

N V

F N

Easy shelling, bunched pods, erect, good yield

Mississippi Cream*

C

Green-white

Green-cream

-

N V

N V

High yield, hard to shell

Clemson Purple*

CR

Purple

Brown

66

N V

N V

Pod easy to shell

Pinkeye Purple Hull*

SP

Purple

Cream

80

S V

-

Small seed, good flavor

Texas Cream*

-

-

Cream

-

N V

F N

Queen Anne*

B

-

White

68

S V

-

High yield, concentrated

Princess Anne*

B

-

White

-

S V

-

Large seed

Dixielee

NC

Green

Brown

65

S V

N

Erect pods

*Suited for home canning

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; C = Creamer.

2N V = Non-vine or bush, pods usually bunched above the foliage; S V = Semi-vine, plants tend to spread to vine slightly.

3F = Fusarium wilt resistant; N = Nematode resistant; V = Virus resistant.

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. Process samples/boxes through Cooperative Extension and NCDA. If you don't have a soil test, apply 3 lbs of 10-10-10 per 100ft2.

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 600F at the 4-inch depth 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 ft. Vining types should be seeded 1 to 2 per ft. Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 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 the current North Carolina Commercial Vegetable Recommendations (AG-586) 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 late plantings. This insect is controlled by making 3 insecticide applications at 5-day intervals of 1/2 to 1 lb active Thiodan when pods are ?? inch long. Southern peas may also be attacked by aphids, stink bugs, wireworm, lesser cornstalk borer, and seed corn maggot. Consult the current North Carolina Commercial Vegetable Recommendations (AG-586) for current rates and related information.

Diseases -- Southern peas are often infected by root rots caused by fusarium, rhizoctonia, and pythium. Downey 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. 


Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact an agent of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in your county.

Published by the 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.