Growth and yield parameters of three cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) lines as affected by planting date and zinc application rate

Keywords: vegetative parameters, crop production, zinc fertiliser, Western Cape


Cowpea is one of the most important food legumes in most African countries. Cowpea is a valuable source of dietary protein for both humans and their livestock. There is limited information available on cowpea production and suitable agronomic practices, such as planting date, to best suit different environmental conditions in South Africa. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of two locations on cowpea production and the effect of planting date as affected by zinc application rate. Field experiments were conducted at two locations (Bien Donne’ and Nietvoorbij) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, using two planting dates (2 October and 2 November), three cowpea lines (Veg1, M217 and Qukawa) and three zinc (Zn) fertiliser application levels (0 kg/ha, 15 kg/ha and 30 kg/ha) during the 2015 growing season. The experimental design was a randomised complete block with five replicates. The results showed that Veg1 and Qukawa lines performed significantly better in both vegetative and reproductive parameters when compared to M217 at both locations. Application of zinc fertiliser significantly (p<0.05) affected seed iron content in Veg1 and M217 at Bien Donne’ and seed iron content in M217 and zinc content in Veg1 at Nietvoorbij.


  • Cowpea lines Veg1 and Qukawa were the best performing lines in all parameters measured, making these two lines suitable for dual purpose cultivation.
  • Planting cowpea in November, rather than October, increased the crop production efficiency.
  • Cowpea showed a better overall total yield in the sandy soil of Bien Donne’ than in the sandy loam clay soil of Nietvoorbij.

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