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It is a time to grow cowpeas and here is a new choice: Grafted cowpea seedlings for resistance to Fusarium wilt.
In Taiwan, the cowpea crop occupies an area of approximately 900 hectares. The main producing counties are Pingtung, Kaohsiung, Changhua, Yunlin and Chiayi. Cowpea is a warm-season crop and heat tolerance which can be planted throughout the year in Taiwan. The main productive period for immature seed pods is from April to September and it is a right time to grow cowpeas now. The " Three Feet Green Peel " is a main variety in the market. The character of "Three Feet Green Peel” is green color pods, heat tolerance, good quality of pods and high yield. However this variety is not resistant to Fusarium wilt. Infection often occurs on medium-aged or older plants especially the pods harvest period. It begins as a yellowing and wilting of the lower leaves. The infection progresses up the plant until the entire plant turns yellow. The vascular bundles of the shoots are significantly browned to reach the top of the stems, resulting to the death of the entire plant. Currently, there are no effective fungicides for the control of Fusarium wilt. Because of Fusarium wilt, the pods yield is greatly reduced. Fusarium wilt epidemics can devastate crops and cause up to 100% loss in highly infested fields and under favorable conditions. The cowpea crop market was getting shrinking. To solve the problems, suitable stock varieties for resistance to Fusarium wilt have been selected in Taiwan seed and seedling propagation station. “Three Feet Green Peel” with great good horticultural characters were grafted onto selected rootstock to evaluate the graft compatibility and the survival rate compared with non-grafted seedlings. The field trials showed that the survival rate of seedling plants was less than 20 %. The survival rate of grafted seedlings was higher than 70%. Using grafted cowpea seedlings effectively reduced the incidence of Fusarium wilt.
Farmers could harvest good quality pods and ensure their stable income by using grafted cowpea seedlings in the field. Taiwan seed and seedling propagation station has authorized this technology to manufacturers. The manufacturers could produce more than 50,000 grafted seedlings per year.
After Ching Ming Festival, the temperatures will gradually warm. It is a time to grow cowpeas. In order to reduce the incidence of Fusarium wilt, it is recommended to sterilize seeds before planting, pay attention to fertilizer management to promote the plant growth. Plants infected by Fusarium wilt should be removed from the field immediately. Taiwan seed and seedling propagation station provide farmers a new technique to effectively reduce the incidence of Fusarium wilt and achieve stable yields. Taiwan seed and seedling propagation station would like to inject fresh energy into the cowpea industry, and regain confidence in farmers' cultivation.