The aims of this chapter are to (i) present the importance of the cowpea crop, (ii) demonstrate problems related to drought, (iii) describe aspects related to flower structure and hybridization, and (iv) reveal how the genotype selection with tolerance to water deficit will promote increase of the yield in this culture. This chapter describes that Nigeria, Niger, and Brazil are the leading producers of cowpea crop worldwide, and this crop has a large influence on the economy of these countries. However, the drought problem can be frequently observed in areas with agricultural potential, with negative effects on production components and a consequent decrease of the yield in this culture. Breeding programs aimed at drought tolerance using selection strategies linked to genetic, biochemical, physiological, nutritional, and agronomic characteristics can help increase the yield and reduce losses promoted by the drought. In addition, flower structure and hybridization technique used in Núcleo de Pesquisa Vegetal Básica e Aplicada (NPVBA/UFRA) are presented, as well as populations are evaluated and plant management are explained in detail. This chapter describes the results obtained in other breeding programs aimed at drought tolerance and also explains the potential uses to increase the crop yield.
Part of the book: Abiotic and Biotic Stress in Plants