Response of Cowpea Genotypes to Drought Stress in Uganda
Mwale, Saul Eric
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Moisture stress is a challenge to cowpea production in the drought prone areas of eastern and north eastern Uganda, with yield losses of up to 50% reported. Genotypes grown by farmers are not drought tolerant. This study was therefore, undertaken at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo to identify cowpea genotypes tolerant to drought. Thirty cowpea accessions comprising of Ugandan landraces and released varieties, Brazilian lines, Makerere University breeding lines, elite IITA germplasm and seven IITA drought tolerant lines as checks were screened for drought tolerance at vegetative and reproductive stages. The experiment was designed as a 2 × 37 factorial and laid out in a split-plot arrangement, 37 genotypes of cowpea at two soil moisture stress levels (T1, no stress and T2, severe stress) with all factorial combinations replicated two times in a screen house. The genotypes showed considerable variability in tolerance to drought. Genotypes were significantly different for chlorophyll content (P ≤ 0.01), efficiency of photosystem II (P ≤ 0.05), non-photochemical quenching (P ≤ 0.05), recovery (P ≤ 0.01), delayed leaf senescence (P ≤ 0.01), grain yield (P ≤ 0.01), 100 seed weight (P ≤ 0.05), number of pods per plant and number of seeds per pod (P ≤ 0.001). There was a highly significant positive correlation between chlorophyll content and efficiency of photosystem II (r = 0.75, P ≤ 0.001) implying that chlorophyll content and efficiency of photosystem II could be used as efficient reference indicators in the selection of drought tolerant genotypes. Genotypes SECOW 5T, SECOW 3B, SECOW 4W, WC 30 and MU 24 C gave relatively high yields under stress and no stress conditions, maintained above mean chlorophyll content, efficiency of photosystem II and had good recovery scores from stress and thus were tolerant to drought stress induced at both vegetative and reproductive stages.