Favorite Southern Pea?


Southern Pea’s are a big plant for us at the big Tex Urban Farm. Of all the varieties I have grown through the years I like California Blackeye #5 the best. What are some of y’alls favorites? Southern Seed Exposure sure has some really cool looking varieties has anyone ever tried any of those or others that they are fond of?



I grew and saved Pink Eye Purple Hull for several years. I can’t say it’s my favorite cause I never tried anything else! Kentucky is very dry in August and September, so I used it to succession plant during those months. It would germinate without extra water and still ripen/dry. Pretty too.


This is also my favorite pea. It has been a long time since I planted them. I would like to hear about a bigger size pea that taste as good.


For me PEPH has not been as productive as CBEP#5. Maybe that is just my area. For my Farm boxes the stocky bush habit of #5 is ideal as well. I bet Zipper creams would do well also. Some of the SSE varieties looked great though!



I bought some pink eyes a few years back and a few seeds that came up were a larger purple hull with vigorous plants and a redder, longer pod with larger peas. They were still PH’s but I’m guessing an “improved” version. I started saving seed until now that variety is all I plant. I still don’t know the official name of them but they are good peas. That being said I do love the black-eyes!! I like the crowders, and the zipper creams but PH’s and BE’s are my fav.


red ripper has done very well for me and has the classic black eye pea flavor


Hog Brains, White Whippoorwill, Corrientes, Voatavu, and 3 or 4 others whose names I can’t remember. Southern Exposure had a really good one a couple of years ago but does not have it now. I can’t remember the name. Joe Simcox had a good one but I don’t recall the name of that one either.


That’s a few I don’t know I had heard of before. I’ll have to look into them. Thanks!


Can you tell me a little more about Red Ripper? Is it a vining type? Also does it continue to bear all season or just do one concentrated set? Were do you get seed? Thank you!


rep ripper appears to be a vining type but i grew it on the ground it is also called mandy but i get my seeds from southern exposure, and it produced for me for a number of months after it was old enough to produce fruit highly recommended


Thank you for the tip!


Pinkeye Purple Hull for me. I love a brown Crowder pea, but have never grown them.
My dad got off on the Zipper cream peas for years - but I hated them… such a mushy, flavorless pea. I could never understand why he grew them more than once… I wouldn’t even take 'em if you offered them to me, already shelled out… they’re that bad…


I think Red Rippers are a great tasting, hearty, full flavored pea. Unfortunately, they didn’t do well for me without trellising, and I can’t see going to the effort of trellising field peas when so many other varieties do fine without trellising. In my experience they weren’t as productive as other varieties I grow, and I had quite a bit of trouble with the long pods touching the ground and molding. I really liked them at the table, though, both fresh and dried, and they were very pretty, too, both shelled and in the pod.

I can see why Lucky says what he says about Zipper Creams, but I like them for what they are. I think of them as kind of a chick pea substitute. They are much more mild than most other peas.

My favorite field pea/Southern pea is a small pea that’s basically all green when fresh. It’s my absolute favorite fresh and very good dried, too. I call it Nick’s, but I don’t know the proper name. It’s very productive, quick to maturity, easy to pick… but relatively small and slow to shell. If anyone wants to try growing it, let me know.

I’m growing Carolina crowder for the first time this year. I haven’t eaten any yet, but it’s doing well and the pods are pretty.

I’ve grown Kentucky Red and Franklin Red for the last 2 or 3 years. Franklin Red is fairly small, but I’ve liked it as a dried pea.

I grew Colossal and Calico Crowder for a few years, Pink Eye Purple Hulls a lot longer, but they weren’t my favorites and I gave up growing them. I think Pink Eye Purple Hulls are good fresh, but they don’t seem to make a good dried pea at all.

Big Boy Brown Eyes are a neighbor friend’s favorite. I’ve only eaten them fresh. I thought they were very good. They’re not the prettiest, though (which matters to me mainly because prettier peas sell better, and I’m growing to sell as well as to eat).


@Fusion_power I saw from your website that you’ve grown several different types of field peas (which is what I’m used to calling cowpeas) and I’d love to hear which ones you’d recommend. Do you have favorites to eat as dry peas? Fresh peas? Favorites in different flavor categories? I’m still looking for a replacement for Red Ripper, something with a roughly similar taste, preferably similarly dark red peas, larger size peas, and pretty colored pods, but more productive than Red Ripper – Red Ripper has been a sparse producer compared to almost every other field pea I’ve grown – and without the excessively long pods that have the worse mold problems. Anything come close to fitting that bill? How are Knuckle Purplehulls?


You must have known I have a weakness for really good cowpeas. First a couple of sources. Sandhill Preservation and Bakers Creek have excellent selections.


Cowpeas come in 3 basic types based on how they cook and relative flavor intensity. Generally, light colored peas make relatively mild flavor. California Black Eye is an example and one of those peas that I can’t stand the flavor of. Zipper Cream is a good pea in this group. White Whipporwill has excellent flavor and decent production. Most peas with “cream” in the name fall into this category.

Medium colored peas make stronger flavored liqueur. Pink Eye Purple Hull is an example in this groups. My favorite in this group is Piggott Family Heirloom. It is not as productive as other varieties but makes up for it with outstanding flavor. Another good pea is the old original Whipporwill which Sandhill sells as Brown Whipporwill. It is a small pea and takes a lot more effort shelling but has the advantage of being easily grown and easily dried. Franklin Red is a good and productive pea in this group.

Darker colored peas make liqueur that is much more flavorful, to the extent that it is sometimes too intense. Most of the varieties described as “black” and some deep reds fall in this group. If you want a very intense flavored pea, get the one Sandhill lists as “Cow”. Rouge et Noire, Black Cowpea, and Bisbee Black are other examples.

Iron and Clay is an extremely vigorous grower. The only other contender for rampant growth I know of is Cow.

Green Dixie is a good middle of the pack pea. It has the advantage of not turning off colors when cooked.

Colossus and Hercules are examples of giant sized peas. I like Colossus but Hercules is a more consistent producer for me. I’d like to see the large size in some other types of peas with slightly better flavor.

The only other thing I can add is that cowpeas have best flavor when picked at the green mature shell stage. If picked earlier, they are difficult to shell. If dried, they do not regain the sweet rich flavor when cooked. My only use for dried peas is seed to plant next year’s crop.

Short list of my favorites: White Whipporwill, Piggott Family Heirloom, Franklin Red, and Black Cowpea. I need to grow a few more this year so will probably order some more to trial. One note, the White Whipporwill sold by Bakers Creek is not the same as the one from Sandhill. The one Sandhill carries is from seed I sent to Glenn.


Great stuff! I can’t lie I do like California black eye though. At least for me it is very reductive and care free.


This year’s excellent list of southern pea seeds from Southern Exposure-