August 13, 2016

1 - It is probably possible to grow delicious Southern purple hull peas in New Mexico.

Yard and Garden August 13, 2016


Can I grow purple-hull peas in my backyard? I live in the North Valley of Albuquerque.

- Craig A.


It is good to know someone else likes purple hull peas. I have eaten them in the South and prefer their flavor over the flavor of black-eye peas. I have never grown purple hull peas here (I grew up in SE Texas and have family in South Louisiana), so I know the purple hull peas well. While I have not grown purple hull peas in Albuquerque, I have grown the related whip-poor-will pea. The whip-poor-will peas did well here. My son is trying some black-eyed peas in Zuzax this summer. The plants look pretty good, but he started late and I do not know if he will be able to make a crop, especially at his elevation.

As far as the purple hull peas, they should grow for you, but it is probably too late to plant them this year. However, if you already have some seed it may be worth the try just to see what happens - I will leave that decision to you. However, they should take about from 70 to 100 days to mature and you will probably have a frost before that time The first frost occurs typically in mid-October for Albuquerque (depending on specific microclimate and the year). There is may be a warm period after the first frost, so if you cover the plants overnight when there are early frosts you may be able to keep them going long enough to have a harvest.

Whether you plant them now or wait until next spring, you should add organic matter (compost) to your soil. (Apply manure only in the autumn to allow leaching of excess salts during the winter.) New Mexico soils tend to be too alkaline for them, but compost will help compensate. Agricultural sulfur added along with the compost will also help acidify the soil temporarily. Purple hull peas like warm soil and can reportedly tolerate some drought, but irrigation will be necessary. Next spring is the better time to try them. You should wait until the soil has warmed above 60 degrees and there is no chance of frost before planting. Planting in May with succession plantings every two weeks to extend the harvest is recommended. If you risk planting early, the first plants may be injured by frost, but the later plantings will provide you with plants and you should have a good harvest.

If possible, provide afternoon shade and wind protection. The hot, dry, windy conditions in New Mexico are some challenges to gardeners that the Southern gardeners do not deal with to the extent that we do.

Good luck and let me know how this works for you. I think I may try to grow some purple hull peas next year.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


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