Cow peas anyone?

  • castle-rock-clown
    Posts: 2584

    I’m thinking of installing an acre of cowpeas next spring. Soil is sandy loam with a slightly acidic ph, around 5.7. My fist planting on that acre was a brassica mix that was marginal…and over grazed by the deer. If I go with the cowpeas will they just get annihilated by the deer? Should I cordon them off with the barricade tape?

    St. Paul, MN
    Posts: 10387

    There are just so many things you can grow in a food plot and unless you choose cactus or rhubarb, deer will eat almost anything.

    Cowpeas aka Iron an Clay Peas are an annual legume similar to soybeans. They have a large leaf that deer love. They grow more aggressively and larger than a crop soybean, so they are more like a forage soybean variety.

    The problems with cowpeas are if you already have overbrowsing issues with brassicas, cowpeas will make them worse by offering a tender browse that deer love from the day they germinate. Basically, unless you can grow at least 1-2 acres, you have to fence them or use other browse control measures.

    There is to my knowledge no Roundup Ready veriety of cowpeas so weed control is going to be a big problem in cowpeas.

    As a full-growing season crop they don’t make sense to me up here in the North. If you’re going to grow a crop that has to be protected, why not get the extra protein and bean production of soybeans? And Roundup Ready for weed control.

    Cowpeas are more popular in the south as a cheap cover and conditioning crop. They might work well for that here in the right location, but cowpeas are frost sensitive so cannot be planted as early as grain cover crops here in the north. A big downside with our short growing season as grain can be planted weeks earlier.

    I can get them if you want to try them.

    Posts: 2584

    Thanks for the help. I am going to go with soybeans and the barricade tape for next years planting on that acre. Thanks again.

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