Cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp., is a very important legume in the diet of the population of the Amazon. Although it is autogamous, this species has a cross-pollination rate of ≈10%. Over several years, the mean productivity of cowpea has declined. We suggest that this is linked to a decrease in or an absence of pollinating insects in the fields. The objective of this study is to ascertain the pollinator contribution to cowpea production, as well as to determine the pollination type of the `BR3-Tracuateua' cultivar. In an experimental design, four treatments were compared: no pollination, with flowers in cages to prevent insect visits; open-pollination, with flowers exposed to all visiting insects; self-pollination, with flowers pollinated with their own pollen; and cross-pollination, with emasculated flowers being pollinated manually with pollen from another plant. We observed higher fruit set in the presence of pollinators (83%) than in their absence (77%, caged flowers). However, cross-pollination reduced both the number of seeds per pod and fruit set relative to self-pollination. This result suggests that pollinators have a complementary role in the yield of cowpea, by creating a mixed pollination system where self-pollination dominates.
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