- annual or shortlived perennial
- large-seeded with vigorous establishment
- forage crop
- flowers susceptible to insect attack.
Lablab is a vigorous twining annual or short-lived perennial sown for forage.
As a forage crop, lablab has several advantages over cowpeas; it has a longer autumn
growing season and may survive winter to provide spring grazing; it also has better
resistance to Phytophthora root and stem rot and to attack by insects such as bean fly.
Lablab performs well in new ground, and its large seed can be planted in a rough
seed-bed. It will grow on acid soils, and responds well to superphosphate. Seed is sown at
6 kg/ha in a mixture, or at 15-20 kg per ha as the sole legume.
Lablab produces a vigorous, erect seedling which later develops long trailing stems
bearing large leaves; it produces great bulk and combines well with forage sorghums or
maize. It may be used as a grazed fodder crop, for ensilage, green manuring, or as a
pioneer pasture legume.
Lablab responds well to rotational or strip grazing, removing stock after the leaves
have been eaten but before the stems have been grazed too low.
Cattle may take some time to acquire a taste for lablab, and there is often less bulk
available than expected from the luxuriant growth; once the leaves have been eaten, there
remains only a framework of stems.
Occasional cases of bloat have occurred when animals were introduced when hungry or
when lablab was in an extremely lush condition.
The flowers and seed pods are very susceptible to insect attack, and little seed can be
harvested without spraying with insecticide.
Cv. Rongai is a late-flowering variety with white flowers, seeding poorly in
frosty areas; Rongai seeds are light brown coloured. Cv. Highworth flowers about 6
weeks earlier in central Queensland, and so can produce seed in districts with a shorter
growing season. Highworth flowers are purple, producing pods borne above the leaf canopy
which makes seed harvesting easier. Highworth seed is black.