Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) is a considerable protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber source. Indeterminate habit cultivars require trellis to achieve higher development. This practice increases production cost. Alternatively, crops like maize (Zea mays L.) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) can be used to reduce expenses and provide physical support. Growth and yield of cowpea was evaluated using conventional and live trellis, under summer rain conditions in 2012. Experiments were setup in warm (Cocula, Guerrero, México) and temperate climate (Montecillo, Edo. Méx.). One indeterminate growth variety of cowpea was used to measure yield and total biomass. Additionally, harvest index, water use efficiency and profitability for each trellis setup (conventional (CC), maize (CM) and sunflower (CS)). Maximum and minimum temperatures, rain quantity and evaporation were recorded. Warm climate grown cowpea had higher water use efficiency, which translated into higher grain yield (68 g m-2) and total biomass (253 g m-2). Cowpea grown with maize trellis had higher yield by 13% compared to the one grown with sunflower. Net income was higher with maize trellis, followed by sunflower and conventional trellises. Live trellis is an alternative for cowpea production.
Key words: Vigna unguiculata, conventional trellis, economic analysis, live trellis.
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