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Cover Crop Series: Red Ripper Cowpeas

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Red Ripper Cowpeas are a heat- and drought-tolerant legume. They are adapted to a range of soils and seem to be relatively pest free. Like all cowpeas, they can also be consumed by humans in the form of snap beans and dry beans. Red Rippers flower and make seed earlier than Iron and Clay and tend to act like a determinant variety. However, if conditions are ideal, they may continue vegetative production after flowering. Hard seed can occur, which may create problems with volunteer Red Rippers in subsequent warm-season cash crops. Seeding rate was 54 pounds per acre.

These plots were drill planted in 7.5 inch rows in a no-till seedbed on May 15, 2017, at the Noble Research Institute Headquarters Farm in Ardmore, Oklahoma, on a Heiden clay soil. Planting depth was about 1.5 inches, seed was placed on top of soil moisture and 2.33 inches of rain fell over the next three days. There was no fertilizer, insecticide or herbicide applied to this crop. Rainfall was below average after establishment.

About the Cover Crop Series

The Noble Research Institute is testing dozens of cover crop species with potential to help build soil health in the Southern Great Plains. This series features the cover crops we've grown on our Headquarters Farm in southern Oklahoma. These videos explore our results on establishment and growth, ground cover potential, and weed control for each crop.

Jim Johnson serves as a senior soils and crops consultant at Noble Research Institute, where he has worked since 1999. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in soil science from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in agronomy from Oklahoma State University, he worked in various plant breeding programs in Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma. His interests are cover crops and soil health.