Plant breeding programs are design to produce improved crop materials for farmers and end users. It is often a lengthy event spanning years hence there is the need to plan properly in other to save time and resources. Planning involves all activities required to make running of the program successful. Feasibility of the breeding program will be determined at the planning phase. During the planning, the problem statement is defined, this tells what gap is to be filled in the program and from this the specific objectives are drawn.
Selection of genotypes, location and other materials needed for success of the program is tackled at the planning stage, issues like sufficient materials may be addressed at this stage. Sometimes breeders will have to multiply the materials to have sufficient quantities before the program begins, the population size to use is an important factor in breeding because such considerations involve both resource allocation and a statistical consideration. It is very important to identify the population to be used in the program to ascertain if it is alright and genetically good. Sometimes materials for the program has to be requested elsewhere or even across different countries, the planning will highlight the requirements for these requests and the time lapse for delivery of the materials, the environmental requirements including diseases it may carry of be prone to in the new environment can all be tackled.
Each experiment has treatments, these are the materials that lead to the desired results. How these treatments are handled will lead to a better understanding of the genetics, the number of replications and the size of plots, the time and sequence of each activity are crucial to the breeding program. The exact time a cross must be made, the needed isolation or screening of the field to prevent external contamination from foreign pollen are critical aspects of the planning that needs to be addressed before the program takes off. In some programs, farmers field and research fields are used for screening, there is the need to know the availability of the needed condition for the program to take off, an unplanned work might for example enter the raining season when actually the intention is to screen for drought.
One of the most important feature of every breeding program is the use of an experimental design
Selection of experimental design: The design is a key component of every experiment and refers to the arrangement of experimental units. It is important to consider the environment, the nature of variability within the environment before deciding. The structure of the treatment also determines to a large extent how they are assign and must be factored during planning in other to be efficient.
Selection of unit of observation: The size of the unit to which a treatment is applied should be determined during the planning stage. Statistics are calculated based on these units and its important to choose ones that will tell the true effect.
Every breeding programs will have certain similar activities and planning for these activities ensures the success of the program, these activities include;
Creation of variation: This is the most important foundation for every breeding program without which there is limited or no progress. The breeder must decide on where and how to get the necessary variations needed in the materials to use.
After getting the needed materials, breeders make crosses to develop populations which will be evaluated and materials advanced are based on which genes are introgressed into the new offsprings. It is important to take into account the floral biology of the species, this enables planning for crossing and the type of method of hybridization to use. There also different ways of creating variations when they arent available, these include through tissue culture, mutagenesis and introgression from wild relatives, a carefully planned breeding activity reveals the problem at hand and makes provision for which method to use with timelines
Selection: This involves identifying and isolating plants and growing their progeny. Decisions are based on phenotypic observation and efficiency of all activities are important. Planning ensures that measurements are taken at the right time, it also ensures that instruments needed for measurement are acquired prior to the time they are needed. Different methods have been designed for various crops. Sometimes crops are exposed to certain conditions to aid selection of the best lines. Planning for the condition required. During planning certain key questions are answered like, what data to collet, when to collect those data, where and how to measure them must all be answered before starting
Evaluation: All newly developed materials must be tested in a well laid experiment for yield and other attributes. Normally these evaluations are multilocational and requires logistics and extra labour other than the one used at the research station for the initial works. These locations must also be chosen very well in other to reveal the true performance of these materials.
Multiplication: When a new material is ready to be made public, there is the need to multiply them to large quantities. There are requirements to meet when registering certified seeds , there are steps to be taken in releasing these materials and it must be factored into planning to prevent any losses.
Distribution: Seed sale and distribution to farmers is a large scale business. Some companies outsource these activities due to the huge work involved. Also there is the need to make sure the seeds are kept properly to maintain viability and prevent insect damage. Proper coordination of this activity is key and failure results in a financial loss to the company. Seeds must be ready at the required time to the farmer