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KIBLER, Ark. — Their names are canon in Southern cooking: Black Eyed, Pink Eye, Purple
Hull, Cream and Crowder.
Their cachet is such that tradition has one variety ringing in each New Year for luck
as “Hoppin’ John” and come summer, another variety’s are celebrated to the sound of
revved up rotary tillers at the Purplehull Pea Festival in Emerson. In the kitchen
they make friends with hog jowls and okra; and add earthiness to stews, soups and
salads in recipes that cross the boundaries of world cuisine.
They are the southern peas, or more modestly, cowpeas.
This week, the southern pea takes center stage at the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture’s Vegetable Research Station in a field day that will highlight
a breeding program that has released 20 improved pea varieties since it began more
than 60 years ago.
Over the years, the strength of Arkansas’ pea crop placed it seventh nationwide in
the 2012 Census of Agriculture, with peas harvested from nearly 1,400 acres.
“They have been a focus of breeding and research at this station since the early 1950s,”
Dennis Motes, director of the station. The Vegetable Research Station was established
at Van Buren in 1948 and moved to its current location near Kibler in 1974.
The Division of Agriculture’s early breeding program was a joint effort with USDA,
Motes said, and resulted in three early southern pea varieties. Division breeders
John Bowers and Teddy Morelock picked it up from there in the early 1970s and released
17 improved Arkansas varieties since 1973.
Pea breeder Ainong Shi directs the program now and will discuss his progress in breeding
and genetics during the Aug. 12 field day.
The field day will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. and the program begins at
9 a.m. Sessions on herbicide research and the breeding program will be followed by
tours of breeding and research plots.
The field day will conclude with lunch at 12:30 p.m.
For information about the Southern Pea Field Day, call 479-474-0475.
To get to the Vegetable Research Station from Interstate 40, take Exit 13 south through
Alma, continuing 4 miles south to Kibler. Turn south on Thornhill Street to the station.
News releases and photos are available online at
pea field day03.jpg:
Dennis Motes, director of the Vegetable Research Station, left, shows visitors southern
pea breeding plots during a University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture
field day. A southern pea field day is set for Aug. 12 at the station near Kibler.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Fred MillerScience EditorU of A Division of Agriculture479-575-5647, email@example.com