California Black Eyed Cowpea


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Black-Eyed Cowpeas are possibly the most popular of all the cowpeas. They are incredibly productive heat-loving white legumes with a small black spot around the seed scar of the mature pea and has a green hull that matures tan. They are prolific yielders of 6-inch long pods that contain 6-13 peas and can shell out easily. Soft yet firm and nutty, and a delicious addition in Southern foods like Hoppin' Johns, Texas Caviar - or simply braise with pork or ham! An excellent source of dietary fiber and protein.

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Plant Name:
Cowpea, California Blackeye No. 5
Latin Name:
Vigna unguiculata
Days to Germinate: 7-14
Days to Harvest: 90
Growth Habit: Bush
USDA Zones: 3-12
Lifespan: Annual
Brand: TomorrowSeeds
Sunlight: Full Sun, Partial Shade
Heirloom, Open-Pollinated
Fungicide-Treated Seeds:*: No
Seeds Packed For**: 2024

*Fungicide-treated seeds protect the seedlings from diseases until they are up and growing. Do not eat treated seeds.
**Seeds are freshly packed for the growing season of the year listed. Seeds are still viable beyond pack date. Store in a cool and dry location such as the refrigerator or basement to best preserve germination rates.

Planting Instructions:


Soil Preparation:

Remove weeds, large rocks, and litter from the planting area. Till the soil 8-10 inches deep and rake several times to break up large clods. It is best to do this when the soil is dry enough to not stick to garden tools. Loosening the soil will help the plant establish strong roots.


In the Spring, plant cowpeas after all danger of frost has passed and temperatures are consistently 65F. The colder the soil, the longer it will take for the seeds to germinate. For Fall planting, sow early enough so that harvesting can be completed before damaging frost occurs, about 14 weeks before first average Spring frost.

Plant cowpea seeds 1-2 inches deep and 2-4 inches apart in the rows spaced 2-3 feet apart. Planting in fertile, moist, well-draining soil is best for seeds to germinate and emerge quickly.

Planting Depth: 1-2 inches
Within-Row Spacing:
2-4 inches
Between-Row Spacing:
2-3 feet


Care During the Season:

Watering: Cowpeas can withstand heat and dry conditions well compared to other vegetables, but yields can increase with good watering and rainfall. Water plants about 1 inch every 7-10 days when established.

Weeding: Weeds consume about as much water as the cowpea plant itself so try to pull weeds when possible, but be careful not to pull the delicate roots of the plant.

Fertilizing: Soil pH between 6.0-6.5 is best but cowpeas are tolerant of many soil conditions. Fertilizer is optional but 4-12-12 or 5-10-10 are good options if choosing to fertilizer. Apply by broadcasting or creating a 4 inch deep band along the row, 3 inches away from the seed. Water plants after fertilizing.

Insecticides: Insecticides may be used to protect plants. Bt-based insecticides and sulfur are organic options. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties and helps in controlling many diseases. Before using a pesticide, read the label and always follow cautions, warnings and directions.

Diseases: Diseases may be a possibility during cool, wet weather. If spots appear on leaves or bean pods, treat the plant with an approved fungicide. Neem oil, sulfur, and other fungicides may be used.


For fresh cowpeas, pick individual pods when the pods are at least 6 inches in length, their seeds fill the pods well, and they are easily snapped like green beans. For dry beans, pull up the whole plant when 90% of the pods have dried off and seeds are hardened. Spread the plant in a safe area to complete the drying of the pods. Leaving the pods to completely dry on the plant may risk field weathering and losing or breaking the seeds. Break completely dried pods down the middle and push out the seeds. Store the seeds in an airtight container until ready to use.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories 130
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.5 g 0%
Saturated fat 0.1 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 6 mg 0%
Potassium 625 mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 27 g 9%
Dietary fiber 7 g 28%
Sugar 4.4 g
Protein 4.3 g 8%
Vitamin A 23% Vitamin C 6%
Calcium 18% Iron 8%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 5%
Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 18%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.