Table I Southern Peas Varieties Variety
Plant Habit Pod Color
Disease Tolerance or Resistance
Mississippi Pink Eye
Pink Eye Purple Hull
Table II Weed Control Herbicide
Time of Application
0.5 to 0.75
Grass seedlings, pigweed, purslane
1 to 3 weeks before planting
4 to 8
Germination grass, seedling, purslane, wild Immediately after planting verbena, chickweed
0.75 (2 to 6-leaf stage cocklebur 6 in maximum height) 1.0 (6 to 10-leaf stage cocklebur 10 in maximum height)
Post emergence after at least 3 nodes have developed on a pea.
1.5 to 3.0
Annual grasses and some small-seeded broadleaf weeds
Pre-plant incorporate or at planting
Imazethapyr (Pursuit) 2lb/gal
Annual broadleaf and grasses
Pre-plant incorporate or at planting
Sethoxydin (Poast) 1.5lb/gal
0.09 to 0.27
After grass emergence
Broascast Rate of Active Ib/A
Table III Insect Control Insect
Aphids and Thrips
Amount of formulation per acre
Days for last application to harvest
Defend 2.67 EC
0.75 to 1.5 pt
0.75 to 1 pt
0.66 to 1.5 qt
1 to 2 pt
1 to 2 pt
Methyl Parathion 4EC
1 1/2 to 2 pt
Corn ear worm
Remarks Treat for thrips if you find 3 or more per bloom. There is no indication leaf-feeding by thrips causes serious serious damage. First year peas in some areas may not have a problem with this insect. In areas where peas have grown and/or have a history of curculio problem, sprays should begin when first pods are 1/2 in long and continued for 3 to 4 sprays at 5 day intervals. Treat if you find one 1 worm per 3 feet or row. Beet army worm and cabbage looper may be present along with the earworm.
Treat if you find 2 stink bugs per 10 feet of row.
Southern Pea Production by Jim Motes, Extension Vegetable Specialist; Warren Roberts, Extension Vegetable Specialist; John Damicone, ExtensionPlant Pathologist; Jonathan Edelson,Entomology Specialist. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service HLA6029 Commercial Production of Southern Peas by Dr. David Nagel, Extension horticulturist, vegetables; Dr. John D. Byrd, Jr., Extension weed specialist; Dr. Frank Killebrew, Extension plant pathologist, (deceased); Dr. J. H. Jarratt, Extension entomologist; and Dr. Tom Jones, Extension agricultural economist . Mississippi State University Extension Service. Publication 1535.
For additional information contact:
Dr. Franklin Chuwkuma, Coordinator of Off-Campus Centers 601.877.2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PLANTING AND CARING FOR
Soil Preparation and Planting
Southern peas are known as cowpeas, ﬁeld peas, blackeyes, crowders and purple hull peas. They are a warm season crop and can be planted after spring vegetables are harvested. Southern peas have the ability to produce on soil of low fertility, ﬁt into crop rotations and can draw nitrogen from the atmosphere. Inoculations of seeds with nitrogen ﬁxing bacteria may be used to coat the seed before planting to insure bacteria is present in the soil especially in soils where southern peas have not been grown. Soil fertility and moisture supply inﬂuence the yield. From a single harvest the green shell pod yield will range from 2,500 to 4,500 pounds (60-110 buchels) per acre while green shelled ranges from 1,200 to 2,000 pounds per acre. However, multiple hand harvests can increase pod and green pea yields by 20 to 30 percent above the indicated single harvest yields.
There are many varieties to be considered. Therefore, the preference of potential buyers must be considered in determining the varieties to grow. Varieties differ in the following characteristics: (1) growth habit-vining, semi-vining, and bush; (2) pod color at green shell stage —green to silvery to purple; (3) seed color — cream, buff, brown, red, black, spotted, and speckled; (4) eye color — varies from no color to pinkish, maroon eye to black eye; (5) seed type — crowder, semi-crowder, and noncrowder. A crowder pea is one in which the seeds are crowded in the pod, causing seed to be blunt on the ends. Days from planting to harvest ranges from 65 to 80 days depending upon season and variety.
Sites and Soils
Southern peas will grow on many soil types, but highest yields occur on well drained sandy loams. To provide poor yields do not grow on droughty or wet soils.
Soil pH and Fertilizer
Fertilize according to soil test recommendation. Neutral to slightly acid soils (pH 5.5 to 6.5) are preferred by southern peas. Soils with a pH above 7.5 and high in calcium should be avoided or chlorosis (iron deﬁciency) could occur. This could stunt plant growth and reduce yield. Apply lime if soil pH is below 5.5. Band the fertilizer ¾ inches deep and 2 to 3 inches away from seed or broadcast and disc in all fertilizer including nitrogen before planting. Excessive N may cause excessive vine growth, delayed maturity, pod shattering, and low yield. Southern peas show very little response to N fertilizer, so side dressing with N fertilizer is not advised. Peas should not follow crops that add large amounts of N to the soil.
Soil should be reworked just before planting to destroy any weeds and to develop a clod-free seed bed needed for mechanical harvesting. The soil temperature should be 70°F or above for several days prior to planting. Planting dates ranges from April to August in south Mississippi while in north Mississippi optimum planting dates ranges from April 15 to July 15. Southern peas should be planted in rows 18 to 42 inches apart depending upon variety and equipment to be used in planting, cultivation, and harvesting. Bunch varieties require wider spacing. Three to four seeds should be planted per foot of row. Size of seed determines the amount of seed to plant per acre. Seeding rates vary from 15 pounds per acre for small seeded varieties to 30 pounds per acre for larger seeded types when planted in 36 inch rows. Plant seeds one inch deep in heavy soils and 1 1/2 to 2 inches in lighter soils.
Several diseases hinder the production of Southern peas. Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Fusarium species are soil-borne fungi causing root and seed rots as well as death of developing plants. Virus diseases occur during most plantings and common symptoms are puckering of leaves, stunting of the plant, and mosaic color patterns in the leaves. Obtaining high quality seed and controlling aphids reduces virus problems. Seed treatment and crop rotation reduces the losses caused by root rots. Cerecospora leaf spots and bacterial blights are diseases found on leaves. Nematodes and particularly the root-knot nematode can damage Southern peas. Fields that are known to be infested should be avoided. Nematode, Fusarium wilt, and bacterial blight resistance are found in several varieties as shown on Table 1.
Cultivation and Chemical Weed Control
Most commercial pea production is harvested once-over mechanically. Peas are harvested in three different stages of maturity—green snaps, green shell, and dry. Each stage requires a different harvester. The commercial snap bean harvesting machines can be used to harvest in the green snap or green shell stage. Bunch or semi-bunch varieties harvest best with the snap bean harvesters. For dry pea harvest small grain combines are usually used to cut and thresh the peas. Before selecting any harvester, consider row spacing, varieties, and available markets for the peas. Multiple hand harvesting is still in use. Harvest the crop every ﬁve to seven days for three to four weeks. Yields of 150 bushels/A are possible (22 to 25 lbs./ bushels).
Weeds should be controlled early with either shallow cultivation and/or herbicides. The use of herbicides is becoming more important with mechanical harvesting and as plant populations rise. The herbicides Treﬂan, Dual and Poast may be used for grass control while Basagran and Pursuit may be used to control broadleaves. It is essential to spray broadleaf weeds early for effective control. Recommended materials on chemical weed control are listed on Table 2.
Irrigation Irrigation can double or triple yields in periods of severe droughts. This is especially true when water is applied during bloom and early pod development. Without irrigation, peas usually suffer during short drought periods; and, although they may produce a crop, the yield can be greatly reduced. The critical irrigation period is during bloom stage; however, excessive rainfall or overhead irrigation at or a few days before bloom stage may delay fruit set and encourage excessive vine growth by interfering with pollination. Maintain uniform moisture throughout fruit set and pod development. For highest yield, peas should receive one inch of water each week, either by rainfall or irrigation.
Insects Southern peas can be attacked by insects such as maggots, aphids, thrips, cowpeas curculio, stink bugs and worms. Maggots may be a problem if Southern peas are planted early since this insect is usually only a pest in cool, damp springs. Aphids are small, green softbodied insects that feed by piercing the plant tissue and withdrawing plant juices. Infestations of this pest develop on leaves and the fruiting stems. Aphid populations may occur anytime during the year; however, they are more likely to be found during mild, damp weather. Thrips are small insects that feed on either the blooms or on the foliage. Thrips feed on the underside of the leaves throughout the growing season, reaching maximum densities about a month after planting. Cowpea curculio has the potential for being the most damaging pest of Southern peas. This small weevil feeds on the pods and lays eggs in the seeds; larvae then feed on the developing seeds in the pods. The insects begin emerging from overwintering sites between mid-March and mid- April. Late planted peas are more likely to have problems with lesser cornstalk borers. As the pods form, a number of insects can become pests. Green stink bug feeding will cause discoloration of the developing seeds. The fall, beet, and yellowstriped armyworms along with the corn earworm will feed on the pods during the summer. Recommended materials for insects pests are listed on Table 3.
Handling and Marketing
Some fresh market peas are produced and these are hand harvested or harvested by machine and packed in baskets or crates for shipment to local markets. Shipment to distant markets must be under refrigeration to maintain quality. Dry peas are mechanically harvested and hauled bulk to processing stations where they are cleaned, graded, stored, and fumigated prior to packaging and marketing. Southern peas are well adapted to U-pick marketing. The purple hull varieties are best suited to U-pick since pods begin to turn purple when they are ready to harvest. A commercial pea sheller in conjunction with a U-pick operation may be a proﬁtable investment.