The term “spineless cactus” is used in Brazil to designate cultivars of Opuntia ficus indica Mill and Nopalea cochenillifera Salm Dyck. The spineless cactus was consolidated in Brazilian semiarid as a strategic fundamental food resource in several production livestock systems, constituting a plant with enormous productive potential. Thus, the spineless cactus has been widely cultivated and used for several decades, by enabling the animal feeding in critical periods of year because of its characteristics, morpho‐anatomical and physiological (CAM), which makes it tolerant to long droughts, being a crop that presents high productivity in droughts conditions, when compared to other forages. Nevertheless, the spineless cactus is a crop relatively picky about soil and climate characteristics of region, presenting greater growth in fertile soils, as well as in regions where nighttime temperatures are cool and the air humidity is relatively high. Although the crop be adapted to long droughts periods, many times it’s necessary to perform irrigation in its production system, mainly in regions of low rainfall, for to supply its water needs, thus ensuring productivity and survival of crop. Therefore, the knowledge of characteristics of plant, as well as of appropriate management techniques to crop, is essential for the good performance of spineless cactus.
Part of the book: New Perspectives in Forage Crops