Cowpea seed is a nutritious component in human diet and also a kind of nutrient-rich feed for livestock.
The protein in cowpea seeds is richer in amino acids, lysine and tryptophan than cereals; however, compared with animal protein, it lacks methionine and cystine.
Cowpea seeds are therefore regarded as a nutritional supplement for grains and a supplement for animal protein.
You can harvest the cowpea plant at any stage of it’s growth. Cowpeas are often mixed with other foods.
You can have your cowpea seeds boiled as fresh vegetables, canned or frozen. Dry and mature seeds are also suitable for boiling and canning.
Cowpea should not be planted until the soil temperature is always above 65°F and the soil moisture is sufficient to germinate and grow. The seeds will rot in cool, moist soil.
HOW TO HARVEST COWPEA
You know, when the pods start to turn yellow, the cowpea is fully ripe and ready to be harvested.
Keeping the plants in the field until they dry out requires great care so as not to let the pods fall apart.
You can harvest the pods individually or uproot the whole plant from the bottom and then spread it out to dry.
Cowpea can be harvested in three different stages of maturity: baby peas, green ripe and dry.
Now, depending on the temperature, fresh cowpea (green ripe) are 16 to 17 days after flowering, that is, 60 to 90 days after planting.
The harvest date of green snap pods is usually specified by the processor.
Mechanical harvesting requires the use of a pea or green peas harvester.
Most domestic cowpea production uses mechanical harvesting, however, the hand-harvested cowpea is less damaged and the harvest season may last 1 to 3 weeks.
One person can manually harvest 12 to 20 bushels of cowpea pods per day. The cowpea pods are packaged with a net weight of 25 pounds and are packed in bushel baskets or mesh bags (not sacks).
Ripe green cowpeas are usually harvested mechanically by some type of mobile grape harvester.
Dried cowpea can be stacked to promote drying or mixed directly using a small grain or soybean combine harvester.
How to Save Cowpea Seeds
It is very important to preserve the seeds for the next harvest.
Whether you are planting plants for immature beans (some pods are just left on the vine to reach seed maturity) or for dry beans, in this case, it is easy to harvest the seeds of these crops because the seeds are one.
In view of the relatively short isolation distance required to maintain the variety, gardeners can even plant and preserve the seeds of multiple varieties in the same season.
STORING OF HARVESTED COWPEA
The harvested green cowpea will deteriorate due to heat unless it is kept cool.
After harvest, provide shade and adequate ventilation on the way to the cooler. Cowpeas cooled below 45 degrees Fahrenheit may suffer from chilling damage.
Dried cowpea seeds are cleaned, graded, and fumigated, then packed in small plastic bags and sold to consumers.
Recommended: living in Florida? Learn how to grow cowpeas in Florida here.
Common Pests and Diseases
Infections are a very big disadvantage to cowpeas. This is because they are easily prone to diseases.
Sometimes these diseases can stay in the soil for years, therefore, it is advisable to plant cowpea in different areas of your garden every year.
In order to prevent the spread of fungi and bacteria diseases in cowpea, you may want to avoid damp areas.
To eliminate insects such as beetles and bed bugs that may eat plant leaves is to pick them up and throw them into a jar of soapy water.
Cut and compost plants that have passed the vigorous growth period in time to interrupt the life cycle of pests and diseases.
Store cowpeas in a closed container in a cool, dark and dry place to prevent moisture and diseases.
The cowpea can last for 3-4 years under food conditions.
Cowpea pods can reach 6 to 10 inches long and look similar to green beans. The pods can be harvested when they are young, or they can be harvested after being dried.
If you harvest it when it is green, pick it when the pods are small. To harvest dried cowpea pods, harvest them after drying on the vines.
Knowing when to harvest your cowpea, how to harvest cowpeas, and how to store them will not only allow you to enjoy a good harvest but also you ou will be able to save good seeds for another planting season.
For details about growing cowpeas from seeds, check our article on how to grow cowpeas from seeds here.
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