Cowpea is one
of the most ancient crops known to man. Its origin and
subsequent domestication is associated with pearl millet and
sorghum in Africa. It is now a broadly adapted and highly
variable crop, cultivated around the world primarily for seed,
but also as a vegetable (for leafy greens, green pods, fresh
shelled green peas, and shelled dried peas), a cover crop and
for fodder. Cowpea has a number of common names, including
crowder pea, black-eyed pea and southern pea.
All cultivated cowpea varieties are considered warm season
and adapted to heat and drought conditions. Cowpeas typically
reach a canopy height of 30 to 36 inches, although the more
determinate bush types may reach only 24 inches. The seed pods
are borne above the leaf axil, making the pods very visible.
The seed pod is typically 3 to 6 inches long and has 6 to 13
seeds per pod. The seed weight per bushel is 60 pounds with
about 3,000 to 4,000 seeds per pound. The germination of the
seed is rapid at soil temperatures above 65° F.
Plant cowpeas outdoors directly in the garden after
last frost date. Germination is improved when soil temperature
is above 65 F. Cowpeas require a long growing season with 4
months of warm days. They are drought resistant and basically
can grow anywhere corn can grow. Plants can grow 8 to 36" tall.
Do not plant in cold wet soil or you may experience poor
Informative articles found on the
How to grow
Black-eyed Peas and Rice Recipe
Black-eyed Baby Cakes Recipe
TST052 Big Red Ripper
Good flavored table pea with 10 in. pods containing as many as 18 large peas per pod! Use fresh or dried. Reddish-green pods are borne high and are easy to see in the foliage.
Resistant to very hot, dry summers. Vigorous, sprawling vines.
TST073 Big Boy
The bushes stand erect and bear up to ten peas per eight inch pods that are set high on the plants and easy to pick. A very productive field pea that is good for fresh use, freezing or canning. Peas are cream colored with light brown eyes.75 days.
TST067 Fast Lady Northern Southern Peas
An excellent, productive, early variety of white seeded cowpea. Beans have a creamy texture and do not require soaking before cooking. Pods are solid and held well above the ground on compact upright bushes so they can take some wet weather and not succumb to mold.
The early pods hold until the later ones are ready, making this bean extra productive and easy to harvest. Bred by Carol Deppe who selected it to thrive in the cool Oregon summers.
This is the best cowpea for northern climates.
Grown by the Piggott family in Washington Parish, LA since the 1850s. Early and productive, this great-tasting variety is good fresh or dried. 6-7 in. pods have medium-size brown seeds with light speckling. Long vines up to 8 ft. are vigorous and drought-resistant.
An heirloom from the 1800s. Quick-cooking seeds made for a faster meal on busy washdays! Introduced 2010 by SESE.
Medium-size tan peas, 5-6 in. pods, half-runner vines. Very productive, pods borne in clusters of 3-4 for easy picking. 63 days.
This large, easy-shelling cream pea with high yields is delicious and great for the home gardener. The name comes from the ease at which the "string" can be pulled like a zipper to release the peas from the pod.
Southern favorite. Bushy 2-3 ft. plants bear prolifically. 6-9 in. pods with large, creamy-white seeds, 18-20 seeds/pod, easy to shell. Unusually, seeds have a taste between English peas and cowpeas when fresh.Expect mature pods in 66 days.
TST104 Carolina Crowder
Mississippi Silver-type with beautiful cranberry red pods. Red-brown seeds, great flavor. Semibush plants, 7-in. pods. Improved resistance for root-knot nematodes and many other Southern afflictions. 63 days. [Richard Fery and Philip Dukes, ARS/USDA, 1990.]
VUD034 Black Crowder
63 days. Plants high bushy with pods at foliage level. Peas shelled green have a deep purple cast, turning black when dry. Very prolific. Easy to shell.
Thanks go out to Southern Exposure for bringing back this old southern heirloom. Seeds were originally brought to the Americas from Africa during the slave trade, and were grown by Jefferson at Monticello. Once the standard for southern peas, this variety is drought-tolerant and will grow in almost all soils. 5' vines produce loads of 7-8" green pods with a purple tinge. Mature seeds are small and light brown with black speckles. Seeds are good eaten green or dried. 85 days.
VUD024 CT Dimpled Brown Crowder
70 days. Bush type.
Prolific yielder. Pods contain 12-15 peas, closely bunched
TST003 Dall Occhio Black Eyed Cowpeas
A wonderful and elusive small kidney shaped bean. Also known as "ambelofassoula" in Greece. Looks almost exactly like a black eyed pea, but with a more complex, pleasant, earthy flavor. Though it is a crowder it has a creamy color & black eyes. Dall Occhio has a tall, narrow bush habit, as much as 4-5' or more high depending on local growing conditions. Production fades once temperatures are consistently above 90F.
VUD025 CT Purple Hull Pinkeye
63-65 days. Vigorous
bush type to semi-vining plant grows 18-24 inches tall. Pods
turn purple at shell stage, are 6 to 7 inches long, and
slightly above foliage. Peas light green with red eye at green
shell stage, turn white with maroon eye when dry. Medium size,
rounded on ends. Good producer.
VUD026 California Blackeye #5
55-60 days. The
dominant variety of all Southern peas across the country. The
vines are upright to semi-spreading, medium coarse stem and
branches, medium foliage and fair drought resistance. Pods 6 to
8 inches long, early maturing. Seed medium to large. A
6001 Top Pick Pinkeye
The name comes from the fact that Top Pink Pinkeye Cowpea features pods at the top of the plant for easy mechanical or hand picking. Pods are easy to shell and turn a light shade of purple when they are ready to be picked. Pale purple color on pods when ready to pick. High yield potential. Good virus and disease tolerance. Seeds mature in 50 days.
TST061 Top Pick Cream
50 days. Green turning to light cream. Silvery green pods.
Upright bush. Concentrated set at top of plant. Superior to any other Cream pea. Easy shelling. Superior disease tolerance.
TST060 Top Pick Brown Crowder
50-57 days. Pale pink, purple when dry Silver-green, pink when ready to pick
Upright bush, superior to viney habit of Mississippi Silver. Concentrated set at top of plant. Shells easily. Superior disease tolerance. Best brown crowder.
TST062 Queen Anne
60 days. Dependable and heavy producer. Highly recommended for green shell or dry use, freezing, or canning. Can be grown in most northern states. 7 in. pods.