The seed industry is becoming ever more global in trade. How humans utilized plant genetics resources to create our cultivated crops and agriculture itself has an increasing bearing on current and future crop improvement strategies, including the conservation and more effective use of genetic resources and the regulatory environment controlling terms to access and use those genetic resources. It is imperative to understand the relative contributions of genetics, management and environment to the performance of cultivars. This information enables the development of a sustainable research strategy by understanding which traits are important to focus on and how to manage those traits using breeding in a manner that can produce competitive cost-effective solutions for farmers. The future holds many challenges which the successful plant breeding company will turn into opportunities and thus a series of competitive advantages.
The session on Crop Improvement will cover the origin and global spread of cultivated varieties. Transitioning from land races to plant breeding. Measuring genetic contributions to yield (genetic gain). Variance and heritability, characteristics of single and multi-genetic traits. Increasing efficiency of breeding through use of machinery, information, field plot design, improved statistical analysis, off-season nurseries, double-haploids, high-throughput molecular markers, transgenic varieties, and gene-editing. Case studies in breeding for insect resistance and drought resistance. Conservation and use of a broader germ plasm base.