DECEMBER 1982 7/13k'! 4IiJ44 ~:- A-~ LI~.CIRCULAR 4
The Southern Pea in Florida
A SMALL FARM PRODUCTION GUIDE
W. M. STALL, R. D. WILLIAMS, G. W. SIMONE, R. A. DUNN, F. A. JOHNSON
Florida Cooperative Extension Service / Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences / University of Florida / John T. Woeste, Dean
,&44 r 4o L JI&'CIRCULAR 4
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION .................... ............................. .................. 1
PLANTING DATES AND PLANNING ................... ..................... ....... 1
SOUTHERN PEA VARIETIES AND CHARACTERISTICS ................ .................... 1
VARIETIES AND SEED SELECTION .................................... ....... ............. 2
FIELD SELECTION AND SOIL TESTING ................................................... 2
PLOWING AND LIMING ........................... ..................................... 2
FERTILIZING AND SIDEDRESSING ................... ................. .......... 2
Southern Pea Fertilization .................................................. 2
PLANTING SEED AND IRRIGATING ................... ....................... ............ 3
SAFE PESTICIDE USE ...... .......................................................... 3
NEMATODE CONTROL ................... ........................... .............. 3
WEED CONTROL................................................. .... 4
INSECT CONTROL ................ ... .... ............. ................... .... 4
DISEASE PREVENTION ....................................... ................ .. 6
HARVESTING, GRADING, AND PACKING .................... ............ ...... ....... 8
SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ............................... ....... ............. 8
METRIC AND ENGLISH UNITS......................................................... 9
W. M. Stall, Associate Professor and Extension Vegetable Specialist
R. D. William, Former Assistant Professor and Extension Vegetable Specialist
G. W. Simone, Assistant Professor and Extension Plant Pathologist
R. A. Dunn, Associate Professor and Extension Nematologist
F. A. Johnson, Associate Professor Extension Entomologist
Acknowledgements: The authors express their sincere thanks to L. H. Halsey and other faculty members
from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) who provided information or suggestions for the
preparation of this guide.
COMMERCIAL SOUTHERN PEA
PRODUCTION IN FLORIDA
Southern peas are sometimes called cow peas,
field peas, blackeye peas, or crowder peas and are a
common vegetable grown in the southern United
In Florida, most southern peas are grown for
fresh market sales. Yields of 100 to 200 bushels per
acre can be expected. Normal production costs
range from $300 to $400 per acre. Before planting
southern peas, develop your market and know where
to sell your produce.
Planting Dates and Planning
Southern peas must be grown during the frost-
free period of the year. Note the correct range of
planting dates listed in the chart. Although south-
ern peas do grow during the warm, wet summer
season in Florida, yields and quality are usually
Planting Dates for Southern Peas in Florida
North Florida March to July
Central Florida February to August
South Florida September to April
Southern Pea Varieties and Characteristics
Pea Type and Variety Pod Color; Seed Plant Type' Pest
Color and Size Resistance
California Blackeye Green; blackeye, Large bush Southern rootknot
No. 5 medium nematode and Fusarium
Worthmore Green; blackeye, Semi-vining Southern rootknot
medium nematode, mosaic virus
and Fusarium wilt
Pinkeye Purplehull Purple; pink or Large bush Southern, peanut and
purple eye, Javanese rootknot
Knuckle Purplehull Purple; tan, Large bush None
large and blocky
Purple Tip Crowder Green with purple Large bush None
tip; brown, large
White Acre Buff; cream, Bush and None
Texas Cream 40 Green; light Bush None
Floricream Light green; Large bush Southern rootknot
cream, medium nematode
Mississippi Silver Light green; Large bush Southern rootknot
(crowder) cream, medium nematode and
Zipper Cream Light green; Large bush Thick pod wall
(crowder) cream, large restricts insect
Colossus Straw color; Large bush Southern rootknot
(crowder) brown nematode
'Plant type will vary depending on the season, nitrogen rates, available moisture, and temperature. Gener-
ally, planting in the spring results in larger plants.
Varieties and Seed Selection
Select southern pea varieties based on buyer
demand, yield, and resistance to pests. Always buy
quality seed with high germination rates. The ger-
mination rate is listed on the seed tag. Avoid buying
old seed that may have lower germination and vigor.
Either buy seed treated with a fungicide or buy a
fungicide to treat southern pea seed yourself. The
fungicide treatment reduces seed rot and decay dur-
ing sprouting and emergence. Handle the treated
Field Selection and Soil Testing
Southern peas will grow in most Florida soils.
Select a well-drained soil that can be irrigated dur-
ing dry periods. Avoid fields infested with soilborne
pathogens or high populations of nematodes. Rotate
fields and crops to help reduce nematode popula-
tions and the incidence of some soilborne diseases.
Have your soil tested 3 to 4 months before planting
by obtaining a Soil Test Mailer Kit from your
County Extension Agent. Follow the instructions
for preparation and send your samples along with
$3 per sample to the Soil Testing Laboratory at the
University of Florida. After 2 to 3 weeks, you will
receive a Soil Test Report from the laboratory or the
County Agent. The results of this test will help you
decide which kind and quantity of lime and fertil-
izer to buy. Annual soil tests are suggested for best
lime and fertilizer management.
Plowing and Liming
Southern peas grow best when the soil is prepared
2 to 3 months before planting. Plowing early helps
rot plant debris and reduces some nematodes and
soilborne pathogens. Also, lime can be applied more
evenly to a plowed soil than to a field covered with
Except for marl and rockland soils, most Florida
soils are "sour" or acid and need to be limed before
planting. When your Soil Test Report shows a pH
below 6.0 or low amounts of calcium (Ca) or magne-
sium (Mg), limestone application will be suggested
to improve southern pea production. The best ratio
of calcium and magnesium in your soil is about 5 Ca
to 1 Mg.
Apply dolomitic limestone when the report shows
that magnesium is low or the ratio of calcium and
magnesium content in your soil is low. If your soil
contains enough magnesium, apply a lime material
containing calcium. About 1 ton of limestone is
needed to raise the pH of sandy soils 1 unit. Apply
these limestone materials evenly and mix into the
top 6 inches of soil 2 to 3 months before planting.
Fertilizing and Sidedressing
Southern peas and other legume crops fix nitro-
gen in small round structures called nodules which
are located on the sides of roots. The nodules supply
part of the nitrogen needed by the crop, especially
after the peas have started to flower. However, most
legume vegetables will benefit from nitrogen appli-
cation at planting to establish the crop.
A complete fertilizer containing nitrogen (N),
phosphate (P2O ), and potash (K.O) should be broad-
cast or applied in bands about 2 feet wide and mixed
into the soil while planting southern peas. Fertilizer
can also be placed in narrow bands 2 to 4 inches
away from the seed row and slightly below the level
of the seed if proper equipment is available. Avoid
placing concentrated bands of fertilizer too close to
southern pea seeds to prevent root injury from fertil-
In addition to a complete fertilizer, vegetables
need small amounts of micronutrients including
manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn)
and boron (B). A complete fertilizer containing
micronutrients can be purchased. On marl and
rockdale soils, 10 lb per acre of soluble magnesium
(Mg) and all micronutrients should be applied with
the complete fertilizer.
The total amount of nitrogen, phosphate and
potash needed for southern peas at planting is listed
in the following chart. Apply the amount listed if
your soil test results show low levels of PO25 and K.O
or you lack soil test results. If your soil test results
show medium or high levels of either P20s or K.O,
adjust the application rates as suggested on the
report. A good practice following fumigation is to
apply 10 to 20 lb per acre of nitrogen in the nitrate
(NOs) form and the rest in the ammonium (NH4)
Southern Pea Fertilization
Amount Needed at
Peat and muck soils 0-100-150
'Adjust the rates of PO, and K,O depending on soil test
2Application of 1000 lb 6-8-8 fertilizer provides 60 lb N
and 80 lb each of PO, and K_,O for irrigated peas, where-
as 7Q0 lb 6-8-8 supplies the 42-56-56 rate.
More fertilizer can be sidedressed after planting
if leaching rains occur. Apply another 15 lb of nitro-
gen and 30 lb of potash per acre before flowering.
Place the fertilizer about 2 to 3 inches deep, but far
enough away from the plants to keep from cutting
roots. You can cultivate with a rolling cultivator or
sweeps at the same time.
Planting Seed and Irrigating
Southern peas should be planted in rows 20 to 42
inches apart, depending on the growth habit of the
variety and your planting equipment. Seed should
be spaced 3 to 6 inches apart in the row. Plant the
seed 1 to 1 inches deep in moist soil. Depending on
seed size, you will need 15 to 30 lb of seed to plant an
acre at 36-inch row spacings.
Although southern peas can tolerate drier soil
conditions than most vegetables, highest yields can
be harvested when about 1 inch of rain or irrigation
water is applied every 7 to 10 days for most soils in
Florida. Check the soil often for adequate moisture
and irrigate when it begins to dry.
Safe Pesticide Use
Watch for pests or problems by walking through
the fields every few days. Look carefully for signs of
insects and other pests, or poor plant growth. Once
in a while, dig or uncover a few roots to look for
insects or disease. Learn to identify the important
pests of southern peas. Then, select the right method
to control the pest before it damages your crop.
Read the pesticide label and instructions before
each use. Follow all cautions and warnings. Keep all
pesticides in the original container or package.
Store in a safe, dry place that is kept locked. Keep
out of the reach of children. Get rid of empty pack-
Look carefully for insects or diseases every 4 to 5 days.
ages or containers by following the instructions on
the label. Note carefully the time interval between
the last time the chemical can be applied and
Pesticide labels and regulations change often.
Obtain current nematode, plant disease, insect and
weed control recommendations from your County
Nematodes are tiny, microscopic worms that live
on many types of plant roots and survive in the soil.
Several kinds of nematodes can injure the roots of
sensitive southern pea varieties. Badly damaged
plants wilt easily. They often appear stunted, and
have yellow leaves. Nematode injury may delay first
harvest and shorten the productive life of the plant.
It may also reduce resistance of some varieties
against diseases such as Fusarium wilt.
If you do not know about possible nematode infes-
tations, obtain a Nematode Sample Kit from your
local County Extension Office and follow the sam-
pling instructions to prepare a soil sample for analy-
sis. Send your samples and the $5 fee to the Nema-
tode Assay Laboratory at the University of Florida
in Gainesville. The types of nematodes, population
levels, and suggested control methods will be
reported to you.
Infestations of most nematodes can be kept at low
levels by rotating fields with crops that resist the
specific kind of nematodes found in your field.
Where specific kinds of nematodes have been identi-
fied, plant resistant varieties of southern peas des-
cribed in the variety section of this guide or apply a
nematicide before planting sensitive varieties.
Fumigant nematicides can be used to control
nematodes before planting southern peas. These soil
fumigants are put into the soil as liquids, then
become gases and spread approximately 6 inches
(15 cm) in all directions. In other words, the chemi-
cal injected into the soil from each outlet will spread
to treat a band of soil about 12 inches (30 cm) wide.
They must be used early enough before planting to
avoid injury to germinating seeds.
Read the product label carefully for application
details. Note all safety precautions and handle each
chemical with extreme care. These nematicides can
cause serious skin burns, eye injury, or internal poi-
soning if handled carelessly.
Begin by plowing the field 2 to 3 months before
planting so that weeds and plant trash completely
rot. About 2 to 3 weeks before your planned planting
date, prepare a loose seedbed with proper soil mois-
ture for seed germination. Soil temperatures at a
6-inch depth should be 50' to 850F (100 to 300C). If
the soil temperature is too cold, the fumigant will
not spread properly and may not escape from the
soil in time to plant. If it is too hot, the gas may not
stay in the soil long enough to kill nematodes.
For southern pea production, liquid fumigants
can be injected either in rows over the entire field
(broadcast) or within plant beds. If nematode popu-
lations are high and you intend to plant a sensitive
variety of southern pea, broadcast the fumigant
using chisels or coulter applicators spaced 12 inches
apart and 6 to 8 inches deep. After broadcast fumi-
gation, smooth and pack the surface of the soil with a
roller, drag, or culti-packer to "seal" the injection
furrows and retard the escape of the fumigant from
the soil. A light surface irrigation (wet soil 1/2 to 1
inch deep) will also improve fumigant retention in
most soils, but is not adequate by itself.
Row fumigation, by injecting one or two bands of
fumigant within the row before bedding, is usually
adequate and is less expensive than broadcast treat-
ment. For row application, inject the nematicide 2 to
4 inches deep and form a bed 8 to 10 inches high
immediately after injection to seal the nematicide in
p. t I
-iv ";- tim
a i^^ y
A simple gravity-flow applicator can be built for $150 to $300 to
apply liquid fumigant nematicides if you own a toolbar and
Plant anytime after completion of the specified
exposure period if the soil is free of the fumigant
smell. However, if the soil temperature has remained
below 600F (160C) or has been wet, you may have to
help fumes escape from the soil before planting.
This may be done by shallow cultivation, by forming
beds in the field treated by broadcast fumigation, or
by removing 2 to 3 inches from the tops of the beds
formed during row application ("boarding off").
Allow another day or two for any remaining fumi-
gant to escape before planting. Avoid deep cultiva-
tion and mixing treated soil with untreated soil
which may contain nematodes.
Soon after planting southern peas, weeds will
begin to sprout and grow. Weeds that grow before
the southern peas have formed a dense canopy of
leaves can be controlled by shallow hoeing and cul-
tivation. When the peas are young, tilling with a
cultivator will kill most small weeds. Later, use
sweeps and cultivators to cover small weeds in the
row. Throwing too much soil around the plant stems
can increase stem rots and decay.
Herbicides also can be applied to control weeds in
southern pea fields, but they can harm your crop if
applied incorrectly. Follow the instructions printed
on the label and apply herbicides at exactly the right
rate and time.
Southern peas can be attacked by many types of
insect pests. Like many crops in the bean family,
southern peas can tolerate some injury to the leaves
without reducingyields. However, insects that attack
the pods reduce pea quality.
Learn to identify the insects that attack southern
peas. Inspect your field every 4 to 5 days to look for
insects and other pests or production problems. For
every two acres of southern peas, check a different
3-foot section of row during each trip through the
field. Observe both sides of the leaves and inspect
the buds and pods for pests or signs of pest damage.
Apply an insecticide only when insect populations
reach potentially damaging levels. For example,
aphids on young pea seedlings or pests that injure
pods such as caterpillers or pea weevil cowpeaa cur-
culio) should be controlled with insecticides when
you first observe them during the regular field
Avoid regular or calendar insecticide spray pro-
grams because beneficial insects can be killed and
outbreaks of pests can occur later in the season when
pods begin setting.
Insecticide sprays must be applied to thoroughly
cover the entire plant. At flowering, when leaves are
numerous, apply the insecticide with more water
and about 200 psi pressure to be certain that the
spray reaches the center of the plant. In a couple
days, begin inspecting the field again, but wait to
reapply the insecticide until the infestation again
becomes a threat to your peas.
X 1.l^Al ;
The pea weevil or cowpea curculio adult is shy and rarely seen in
a southern pea field.
Aphids are small insects that suck juice from southern peas and
can transmit mosaic virus diseases.
The adult weevil lays eggs inside the pod. The scar on the outside
of the pod indicates where the small worm is eating the seed.
The lessor corn stalk borer can injure southern peas by eating the
center of the stem.
Most diseases that attack southern peas must be
prevented by choosing resistant varieties, rotating
crops, selecting fields free of major diseases, and
treating the seed. A few diseases can be controlled
with fungicides. To reduce losses of southern peas,
learn to diagnose the common diseases for the
proper application of cultural or chemical controls.
Damping-off and root rots are caused by common
fungi that live in most soils. These diseases cause
serious injury when conditions are right for growth
and spread of the fungi in the soil. Both damping-off
and root rots cause erratic stands and reduce yields.
Soilborne fungi that cause damping-off of vegeta-
ble seedlings can rot seed before sprouting or cause
stems to fall over and die soon after emergence.
Damping-off commonly occurs in wet soils and
under cool temperatures. Rhizoctonia root rot can
be recognized by the brick-red spots or lesions on
roots, lower stems, and sometimes pods. Plant roots
often are stunted and stem lesions cause reduced
growth and sometimes plant death.
Fusarium root rot is a hot weather disease in soils
with low pH and fertility. Reddish spots or lesions
develop on taproots. As the lesions enlarge, new
roots develop above these infections. Both plant
growth and pod set are reduced.
Ashy stem blight (Macrophomina phaseolina)
causes stem and root rots with dark lesions during
hot weather under low soil moisture and fertility.
Leaves yellow and plants may wilt on one side before
death. To identify ashy stem blight, look for small
black structures called sclerotia inside the stem.
These sclerotia act like seed for the fungi and sur-
vive in the soil to cause future infestations.
Southern blight is a common disease in the soil
that attacks many vegetables and other plants. This
fungus (Sclerotium rolfsii) kills young seedlings or
mature plants by rotting the stem at or just below
the soil surface, usually during warm and rainy
weather. Leaves become yellow and plants wilt and
die. By carefully observing the stem near the soil
surface, you can see a white mat of fungal mycelium
and small round structures known as sclerotia. As
these sclerotia mature, they turn from white to tan
and act like seed for future infestations.
Fusarium wilt is caused by a soilborne fungus
that causes a rapid wilt and death of young seed-
lings. Older plants develop yellow leaves and a
brown discoloration inside the stems at crown level.
Bacterial blight is a wet weather disease that
infects both leaves and pods of southern peas. Leaf
spots or lesions are angular and often wedge-shaped
with a yellow border. The bacteria survive in seed,
soil and crop debris.
Several soil fungi cause damping-off and root rots on southern
peas. This photo shows the spots or lesions of Rhizoctonia on
southern pea stems.
Southern blight is a common disease of many vegetables. Note
the seedlike sclerotia on the stem which allow the fungus to grow
again when conditions are correct.
Cercospora spot and blotch are two fungal dis-
eases that injure southern peas. Cercospora spot
causes round to angular lesions with gray centers
and red margins on actively growing plants and
leaves. Blotch disease occurs on mature plants and
affects leaves, stems and pods. Angular, rust-colored
lesions develop on mature leaves producing a check-
erboard appearance. The underside of lesions will
appear fuzzy from the fungal growth.
Powdery mildew is a cool weather disease that
first appears as a dark mottling on the leaf or pod
surface. Later, these dark areas develop a white
fungal growth that can cover the entire leaf and pod Cercospora spot (above) and blotch (below) are similar leaf
surface. Severe infections will cause deformed and diseases and are controlled with the same fungicides.
yellowed leaves which may drop prematurely. 17
Rust causes small yellow spots on leaves and
sometimes affects pods. Several days after you see .
blown "seeds" will be released. Leaves severely
affected with rust may wither and die.
Cladosporium pod rot causes young pods to die -
and older pods become curved with dark lesions and
Mosaic viruses commonly affect some plants with-
in fields of southern peas unless the variety tolerates
or resists the disease. Leaves are mottled with light
and dark green patterns. Yields are reduced because
the virus causes flowers to drop. These viruses may
be spread by planting seed harvested from infected
plants, by aphid transmission or by mechanical
movement of the virus particles from one plant to
another when cultivating or moving through the Mosaic virus often affects sensitive varieties of southern peas and
field. can reduce yields by causing flowers to drop early.
Contact your County Agent for current disease
Harvesting, Grading and Packing
Harvesting of most southern pea varieties for
fresh market will begin 75 to 90 days after planting.
Harvest the pods when the peas are completely
filled, but before the pods begin to dry. Separate and
discard irregularly shaped pods, unfilled pods, or
pods with numerous insect stings.
While preparing the peas for market, work in the
shade to avoid internal heating and decay of the
peas. Fresh peas can be cooled with forced air at
temperatures above 450F (70C).
Southern peas for processing are picked by
machine. The processor will designate the stage of
maturity and timing of the once-over harvest.
Fi c n h s wih a t 24 li r r
Fill clean hampers with about 24 Ib of quality fresh southern peas.
Sources of Additional Information
1. Florida Extension Circular 473, "Growing
Quality Vegetables in Florida An Introduc-
tion for Small-scale and Part-time Market Gar-
2. Florida Extension Insect Control Guide(Loose-
leaf), Initial cost $10.00.
3. Florida Extension Plant Disease Control Guide
(Looseleaf), Initial cost $10.00.
4. Florida Extension Nematode Control Guide
(Looseleaf), Initial cost $10.00.
5. Florida Extension Weed Control Guide (Loose-
leaf), Initial cost $15.00.
6. Florida Extension Circular 196, "Weed Con-
trol Guide for Commercial Vegetable Produc-
tion in Florida."
7. Florida Extension Vegetable Crops Fact Sheet
VC-16, "Weed Control in Market Vegetable
8. Florida Extension Plant Pathology Fact Sheet
PP-1, "Rhizoctonia Seedling Blights of Veget-
ables and Field Crops."
9. Florida Extension Circular 225, "Commercial
Vegetable Fertilization Guide."
10. Florida Vegetable Crops Department Research
Report VC1-1976, "Seasonal Response of Vege-
table Crops for Selected Cultivars in North
Florida, I. Legumes."
11. Slide/tape sets ST-158, "Growing Quality
Vegetables for Profit" and ST-156 and 157,
"Growing Southern Peas for Profit." These can
be viewed at your local Extension Office by
requesting an appointment 2 to 3 weeks in
METRIC AND ENGLISH UNITS
Metric To English
English To Metric
centimeter (cm) = 0.394 inch
meter (m) = 3.281 feet
meter (m) = 1.094 yards
gram (g) = 0.035 ounce
kilogram (kg) = 2.205 pound
metric ton (mt) = 1.102 US ton
milliliter (ml) = 0.034 fluid ounce
liter (L) = 0.264 gallon
square meters (m2) = 10.764 square feet
hectare (ha) = 2.471 acre
kg/ha = 0.892 lb/A
mt/ha = 0.446 t/A
liter/ha = 0.107 gal/A
ml/100 L = .128 fl oz/100 gal
inch (in) = 2.54 cm
foot (ft) = 0.305 m
yard (yd) = 0.914 m
ounce (oz) = 28.35 g
pound (lb) = 453.6 g
US ton (t) = 0.907 mt
fluid ounce (fl oz) = 29.56 ml
gallon (gal) = 3.785 liter
square feet (ft2) = 0.093 m2
acre (A) = 0.405 ha
lb/A = 1.12 kg/ha
t/A = 2.24 mt/ha
gal/A = 9.35 liter/ha
fl oz/100 gal = 7.81 ml/100 L
km/hr = 0.621 mph
m/sec = 3.28 ft/sec
mph = 1.61 km/hr
ft/sec = 0.305 m/sec
The use of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. It is not a guarantee
or warranty of the products named and does not signify that they are approved to the exclusion of others of suitable
This publication was promulgated at a cost of $1347.20, or 38 cents per copy, to inform vegetable
growers of the recommended southern pea production practices. 1-3.5M-83
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL
SCIENCES, K. R. Tefertiller, director, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this Infor-
mation to further the purpose of the May 8 and June 30, 1914 Acts of Congress;and is authorized to provide research, educa-
tional information and other services only to Individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex or
national origin. Single copies of Extension publications (excluding 4-H and Youth publications) are available free to Florida
residents from County Extension Offices. Information on bulk rates or copies for out-of-state purchasers is available from
C. M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University of Florida, Galnesville, Florida 32611. Before publicizing this
publication, editors should contact this address to determine availability.