March is the start of summer in the Philippines. Here are five crops that can be planted this month.




Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp


COWPEA (VIGNA UNGUICULATA) Cowpea, or paayap, is a leguminous vine planted mainly for its immature pods and seeds, eaten raw or mixed in dishes. The crop residue after harvest is given to feed farm animals because it is a good source of protein. Sometimes, it is planted together with corn to maximize production in the area by having two cash crops simultaneously. Instead of building trellises for viny cowpea, the stalks of corn will serve as trellises for them to cling to. Furthermore, planting cowpeas in the spaces between the corn serves as living mulches to prevent the growth of weeds. After harvesting, the leaves and stalks of both plants can be used as fodder or silage for cattle, goats, and sheep. These two crops have different peak periods of growth, so they compete less in resources. Also, cowpea is a legume that can increase the available nitrogen in the soil through biological nitrogen fixation, making it a good companion crop. Cowpeas can be planted throughout the whole year. It grows best in well-drained, fertile, and sandy clay loam soil types with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. It is adapted to temperatures ranging from 20°C 35°C . It can withstand drought once established but cannot grow well in flooded conditions. Land can be manually tilled using a hoe or plowed and harrowed using a tractor. After making the soil loose and friable, create furrows with a distance of 50 cm between rows. Sow 2-3 seeds per hill with a depth of 2.5 to 5 cm and 20 cm apart. Some of the seeds may fail to germinate, so replant missing hills 10-15 days after sowing. Remove excess seedlings two weeks after planting, leaving only two plants per hill. Depending on the soil fertility, nitrogen fertilizer may not be necessary because excess nitrogen can promote excessive vegetative growth that may delay the plant’s maturity. Without soil testing, a rate of 4 bags of complete fertilizer (14-14-14), one bag of urea (46-0-0), and one bag of muriate of potash (00-60) per hectare is recommended to be applied 14 days after transplanting. Irrigate the soil thoroughly weekly. Remove weeds to minimize competition for nutrients and water. Bush-type cowpeas do not need a trellis. However, viny cowpeas can be easily managed if trellises are constructed. If cowpeas are intended to be eaten as a vegetable, it is harvested 60 – 75 days after transplanting or 12 – 17 days after flowering when the pods are still tender. a day after flowering. Cowpeas can be harvested every 3 – 5 days. For seed production, the pods are harvested when they turn brown.