Scientists are creating more productive cowpea crops Today’s Video of the Day from scientists at Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) are studying the diversity of cowpea lines in an effort to develop higher yielding strains of the crop. The optimum temperature for cowpea growth is 86 °F, making it only available as a summer crop for most of the world.
Also known as black-eyed peas, cowpeas are an important staple food in Africa – feeding more than 200 million people per day. United States production of dry cowpea has declined from 3/4 million acres to a few thousand over the same period. The blackeyed cowpea type is grown primarily in California and is marketed as California blackeyed peas.
“There is still a lot to do to improve cowpea yields and much more research is needed,” said study first author Anthony Digrado. “But this work has established that variation exists that can be used to improve productivity and efficiency of an important food security crop.” Cowpeas may also be grazed, however the plant tends to be weak, so close grazing will stunt its viney growth habit. Scientists are creating more productive cowpea crops as seen above in video with show the acres of crops.
Some producers have successfully grown cowpea as a cover crop, or cut cowpea for hay. Therefore as seen above in the video Scientists are creating more productive cowpea crops requires very few inputs, as the plant’s root nodules are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen. Due to its tolerance for sandy soil and low rainfall the cowpea crops need the fix in the make up of it and its roots.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer
Video Credit: RIPE team