Plant improvement refers to the process of enhancing the characteristics of a plant species, giving rise to a new variety. Features requiring improvement include the amount and quality of the yield, resistance to diseases and pests, and a quality to produce better and higher yields.
Plant improvement is based on taking advantage of the genetic variety of plants and on the selection of the best individuals.
The genetic resources of crops comprise breeding materials, plant cultivars, native breeds retained in gene banks and other materials, and wild populations of crops and their related wild species. Breeders can obtain them, among other things, from gene banks and by exchanging them with other breeders. Such breeding material may bring features into breeding programmes that are not present in the breeder’s own material. The breeding a new variety may take 10 to 15 years depending on the variety and the method of breeding.
In Finland, the only institute for breeding new crop varieties is Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd. Luke works in close collaboration with Boreal, producing research and tools for breeding in shared projects.