Cowpea is an important legume crop in Sri Lanka. It is an inexpensive source of protein and a hardy crop well adapted to relatively dry environments.

Extent, Production and Export (1997 to 2001)


























Areas Cultivated

Hambantota, Ratnapura, Badulla, Monaragala, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Puttlum, Batticalo, System 'H', Ampara, Polonnaruwa.

Recommended Varieties
MI 35, Wijaya, Waruni, Dhawala and Bombay

Varietal Characteristics

MI 35

Exhibits semi-erect growth habit Flowering occurs in about 45 days after planting. Flowers are white in colour. Pods are borne about the canopy. Seeds are small and pure cream in colour. Thousand seed weight average around 70g. Current yield is 1350kg ha-1. Variety MI35 is susceptible to collar rot disease.


This variety exhibits erect and determinate growth. It flowers in about 40-45 days after planting. Flowers are bluish purple in colour. Pods are long pendulous and dark green. Seeds are large and light brown in colour. This variety matures in about 55-60 days. It has a thousand seed weight of 100g. Average yield 1600 kg ha-1. Resistance to collar rot disease.


Plant exhibits erect and determinate growth habit. It flowers in about 40 days after planting. It has bluish purple flowers. It bears long pendulous dark green pods. Medium sized seeds and reddish brown in colour. It has a thousand seed weight of about 115g. Average yield 1650 kg ha-1.


Dhawala exhibits a semi erect growth habit. Flowering occurs in 40-45 days after planting. Flowers are white in colour. Pods are pendulous and green in colour. Seed are large and cream coloured with a black eye. Its thousand seed weight is 170g. Variety Dhawala is suitable for planting in will drained paddy lands during yala season. Average yield 1600 kg ha-1.


Exhibits erect growth habit. Flowering occurs is about 40-50 days after planting. Flowers are purple in colour. It posses dark green pigmented long and pendulous pods. It matures in 75-90 days after planting seed are large and speckled grey brown in colour. Thousand seed weight in about 180g Variety Bombay cowpea in suitable for cultivation in Maha season in rainfed uplands. Average yield 1450 kg ha-1.

Field Establishment
Environmental and growth requirement


Cowpea can be grown on a wide range of soil, from predominantly sandy loam to clay ranging from acidic to basic (pH 4.5 - 8.0). Sandy to clay loam soil and well drained with a pH of 6-7 Cowpea are highly sensitive to water logging.

Cowpea is a warm weather crop which grows at temperatures between 20c to 30c

Land Preparation

One ploughing followed by a harrowing ensures good weed control and a suitable seed bed.

Seed rate
35 - 40 kg/ha

Time of planting
Plant cowpea when there is sufficient soil moisture for germination.

Yala -(Irrigated)- April
Maha -( Rainfed )End of October to Mid November.

Planting method
Rain-fed plant directly on flat or raised beds. Plant manually or with a row seeder on ridges or flat beds depending on field drain age. Plant one plant /hill with a spacing of 30 cm between rows 15 cm between plants.


Crop Management


Basal N 30 kg/ha     (urea 35 kg/ha-1)

P2O5 45kg/ha    (Triple super phosphate 100kg/ha-1)
K2O 45kg/ha    (Muriate of portash 75 kg/ha-1)

Top dressing 30kg/ha of urea at onset of flowering

Irrigation Frequency of application Every 4 days during first 3 weeks and then every 7 days
Pruning When cowpea is grown on very fertile soil or when irrigation is excessive during the

vegetative phase. Irrigation should be reduced or vine pruned.
Weed control 3 and 6 weeks after planting weeding is usually manual.

Chemical weed control
Oxyfluorfen    0.50 - 0.75 l ha-1
Metalochlor    3.0 - 4.0 l ha-1

Insect Control

Insect     Chemical    Dosage per ha (l/ha-)

Pod borers     Methomidophos 50% E.C     1400 - 2100 ml

Collar rot    caused by
Pythium aphanidermatum
Rhizoctonia sp
Selerotium rolfsii

i. Use a recommended fungicide as a soil drench.
ii. Avoid continuous cropping of cowpea on the same field.
iii. Avoid excessive N2 application.
Fungal wilt    Fusaruim oxysporium

Anthracnose    Collectotrichum lindemuthianum

Web blight - Rhizoctonia solani
Small circular reddish brown spots on leaves enlarge and become irregularly shaped water soaked areas.Mycllia of Rhizoctonia solani are visible on the under surface of leaves and on young stems

1. Use disease free seed
2. Avoid dense planting
3. Use a fungicide recommended for Rhizoctonia

Cowpea yellow mosaic virus
Leaf symptoms vary from green mottle to severe mosaic
Leaf distortion blistering and plant death

1. Use resistant cultivars
2. Plant disease free seeds
3. Control vectors with insecticides

Stem rot
Maintain good field drainage to prevent spread of the disease
Use a recommended fungicide at early stage of infusion.