Since agriculture began, drought has been on of the major plagues affecting crop production causing famine and death. Despite many decades of research, drought continues to be a major challenge to agricultural scientists. This is due to the unpredictability of its occurrence, severity, timing and duration; and to the interaction of drought with other abiotic stresses, particularly extremes of temperature and variations in nutrients availability; and with biotic stresses. Breeding has not been as effective in improving crop production under drought-stress conditions as it has in their absence — or where the stress can be alleviated by irrigation. This paper argues that the relative lack of success of breeding for stress conditions in general, and for drought-stress conditions in particular, can be partly attributed to use of the same breeding approach that is successful for favourable environments. A different breeding approach for drought-stress conditions is discussed in relation to the environment in which selection should be conducted, the germplasm to be used, and the experimental designs and plot techniques to be employed.
KeywordsStress Condition Plant Physiology Abiotic Stress Nutrient Availability Crop Production
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