Eyed bean Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. - Leguminous crops - Herbaceous crops

Eyed bean Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. - Leguminous crops - Herbaceous crops

Class: Dicotyledonae
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Tribe: Phaseoleae
Species: Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.

Origin and diffusion

Since ancient times it was cultivated by Greeks and Romans. It is a plant native to Africa.
After the discovery of the New World, with the arrival of the common bean in Europe, the cultivation of dry beans has lost importance; nowadays in Italy it survives only in some areas of Puglia, Tuscany and Veneto.

Dried bean - Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.
(photo By Toby Hudson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Botanical characters

It is a herbaceous plant that reaches a height of about 60–70 cm. The root system is taproot, with secondary roots that have the characteristic knotiness of the legumes due to the presence of nitrogen fixing bacteria (Rhizobium leguminosarum).
The white or violet flowers open in the early hours of the morning and close mid-day.
The leaves are three-lobed and shiny green in color.
The cylindrical pods are 15–25 cm long, green in color, sometimes with violet streaks; the seeds are white with a characteristic dark-colored spot ("eye"), at the point of insertion on the pod.

Dried bean - Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. (photo Francisco Manuel Blanco (O.S.A.) - Flora de Filipinas)

Cultivation technique

It is an improvement crop and follows wheat very well. For phytosanitary reasons it must not follow other legumes, potato, spinach, cabbage melon and cucumber. The cowpea must not return to the same plot before 4 years from any bean crop.
In Northern Italy it is better to wait for the first ten days of May for sowing, when there are no more problems with cold returns; the seeds can then continue until the beginning of July. The sowing distances vary from 40 to 60 centimeters between the rows; on the row, instead, they should be kept (post-emergence thinning is recommended) at a distance of 10 cm between them. It is also possible to carry out sowing by postarella by placing 3-5 seeds in each, respecting a distance of 25-30 cm between one postarella and the other and 40-60 cm between one row and another.
Presence of greater resistance to drought than the green bean and does not need excessive quantities of water; irrigation, however, must not be missing during the flowering and the formation of the pods.
In the initial stages it is necessary to contain weeds which can be done with repeated processing.

Collection and use

The maturation is almost contemporary (if you want to have a collection of fresh legumes, eaten, spread over time, you need to do scalar sowing). The cowpea must be collected at a humidity of 18-20% in order to avoid excessive product losses due to the spontaneous opening of the too dry pods (it should be emphasized that in these humidity conditions the seed quickly loses its proper germination and therefore the seed must be kept in dry and ventilated places, not massing it, in order to dry out further). The drying of the seeds is then completed by spreading them out for some
days in a ventilated place protected from direct sunlight.

Adversity and pests

The cowpea shows good resistance to the most common adversities affecting other beans: therefore, in general, phytosanitary interventions are not necessary to carry out the crop.

Video: How I Plant Cow Peas (January 2022).