Plant breeding is the process in which two genetically dissimilar varieties are purposely crossed to produce a new hybrid variety. As a result, characteristics from both parents can be obtained in the hybrid plant variety. Thus, it involves the production of a new variety with the desired characteristics such as resistance to diseases, climatic adaptability, and better productivity. The various steps involved in plant breeding are as follows:
- Collection of genetic variability: Genetic variability from various wild relatives of the cultivated species are collected to maintain the genetic diversity of a species. The entire collection of the diverse alleles of a gene in a crop is called the germplasm collection.
- Evaluation of germplasm and selection of parents: The germplasm collected is then evaluated for the desirable genes. The selected plants with the desired genes are then used as parents in plant breeding experiments and are multiplied by the process of hybridization.
- Cross-hybridization between selected parents: The next step in plant breeding is to combine the desirable characters present in two different parents to produce hybrids. It is a tedious job as one has to ensure that the pollen grains collected from the male parent reach the stigma of the female parent.
- Selection of superior hybrids: The progenies of the hybrids having the desired characteristics are selected through scientific evaluation. The selected progenies are then self-pollinated for several generations to ensure homozygosity.
- Testing, release, and commercialization of new cultivars: The selected progenies are evaluated for characters such as yield, resistance to diseases, performance, etc. by growing them in research fields for at least three growing seasons in different parts of the country. After thorough testing and evaluation, the selected varieties are given to the farmers for growing in fields for a large-scale production