Scientific name(s): Vigna unguiculata
Improves soil fertility
Easy to establish
High nutritive value and high palatability Adapted to a wide range of soils. Drought tolerant.
High yields in a short period of time. High seed production.
Must have well-drained soil
Susceptible to a number of pests and diseases Alternative host for pests/diseases of French beans
Plant: Forage cowpeas are herbaceous annual legumes, with spreading to fairly erect habit, growing 50 to 100 cm high.
Stems: Hollow, hairless; the main stem to about 1 cm thick; trailing and twining stems somewhat thinner.
Leaves: Comprise three hairless leaflets, with the terminal leaflet symmetrical, and the remaining pair more or less triangular to egg-shaped, about 10 cm long and 7 or 8 cm wide.
Flowers: Pale violet/mauve, about 2.5 cm across, borne in groups on stems over 30cm long.Pods: Greyed orange when ripe, circular in section, 10 – 20 cm long, and 0.5 to 1 cm diameter.
Seeds: ‘Ebony’: black in colour, 8,000 seeds/kg; ‘Red Caloona’: greyed orange in colour, 15,000 seeds/kg; ‘Meringa’: greyed orange in colour, 9,000 seeds/kg
Pasture type and use
Fast growing, annual legume suitable for grazing, hay/silage, grain, or green manure.
Where it grows
Moderately drought tolerant, growing in areas with average annual rainfall down to 500 mm; best grown in areas with annual rainfall between 750-1,100 mm. They also grow in rainfall environments up to about 2,000 mm/yr, but incidence of fungal disease increases.
Adapted to a wide range of soils from sands to heavy, well-drained clays, with a preference for lighter soils that favour good root development. Commonly grown on heavy textured, strongly alkaline soils. Better adapted to strongly acid soils than lablab. Does not tolerate extended flooding or salinity.