Plant breeding deals with the advanced scientific methods and techniques that are required to produce highly improved plant varieties in order to boost their production characteristics. The desirable characteristics that are improved through various plant breeding methods include size of the plant, size of the grains, height of the plant, maturity periods, crop yields, disease resistance, pest resistance, weed resistance, drought resistance, frost resistance, and other such desirable characteristics.
Various plant breeding techniques that are employed by the professional plant breeders include breeding techniques such as in-breeding and cross-breeding; crossing techniques like back-crossing and out-crossing; various mutation techniques; different types of hybridization techniques like inter-specific hybridization; and genetic engineering methods.
Plant breeding is a highly specialized branch of agricultural sciences. Therefore plant breeding, as a professional subject, is taught in many agricultural colleges and universities at master and doctoral level academic programs. Aspiring plant breeders may join for a master or doctoral degree in plant breeding and genetics before starting a career as a professional plant breeder.
Minimum eligibility required for admission is a graduation in agriculture or botany and strong interest in plant breeding. After the successful completion of a master program or doctoral program in plant breeding, candidates can practice plant breeding as a profession.
Plant breeders are absorbed in various academic careers such as professors and teachers of plant breeding in colleges and universities; research careers with various plant breeding research organizations and in corporate careers with agricultural industry, mainly seed industry.
Career responsibilities of plant breeders in academic positions include teaching various aspects of crossing, hybridization, breeding, genetic engineering etc to the students. Those in research positions are responsible for the identification of desirable traits in selected plants; research and development of these desirable genetic traits to incorporate into plant breeding techniques; analyzing the characteristics of new breeds and then selecting and multiplying the best varieties for field trails before introducing them in the main stream agriculture.
Plant breeders that are working with the seed industry are responsible for conducting large scale field and laboratory trials of the breeder seeds to assess the quality before introducing them in to the main seed market.