Weed Interference and Control in Cowpea Production: A Review

  •  O. Adewale Osipitan    


In spite of the great economic potential of cowpea as both domestic and commercial crop, a number of constraints, which include insect pests, diseases and weeds, limits its production in West and many parts of Africa. Weeds reduced cowpea yield and value by competing for light, water and nutrients. Cowpea suffers from weeds particularly when the crop is in the early growth stages before ground cover. Yield losses cause by weeds alone in cowpea production can be as high as 76% depending on the cowpea cultivar, environment and weed management practices. A timely weed removal at the critical period, which falls within the first 40 days of cowpea growth, would help to prevent an unacceptable yield. Weed management in cowpea has been with low technology. Hand weeding is the most widely used weed control method in cowpea but they are usually expensive and labour intensive. Cultural practices such as narrow row spacing and planting of early maturing varieties are also used for weed control in cowpea. Herbicides, which are relatively easy to use and less expensive, have not been widely adopted for weed control in cowpea. There are limited number of selective herbicides with wide spectrum for weed control in cowpea. However, an integrated practices that involved pre-emergence weed control using herbicides or physical weeding, and a supplementary weed removal that would ensure weed control up to 40 days after cowpea emergence could substantially prevent yield losses associated with weed interference.

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