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The Critical Role of Plant Breeding Software

Published February 17, 2021 by Boma N-Chris, Technical Sales Professional

The disparity between technology used in plant breeding and other departments is not uncommon among seed companies. Departments like seed multiplication, sales, marketing, and finance use current and expensive enterprise software, but plant breeders primarily use spreadsheets. This practice constitutes a bottleneck for the operations of any seed company. This article will illustrate the role of plant breeding software in comparison with spreadsheets.


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The role of breeders and the value of data analysis is not news to senior management. Yet, plant breeders use the most basic of software tools. However, the development of superior hybrids and varieties determines the company’s revenue pipeline.

The breeding department is a keystone in a seed company’s innovation and operations. It needs to transform plant breeding data into actionable information. This requires sophisticated experimental designs, spatial analyses of yield trials plus other advanced statistical analyses, and specific decision tools. These tasks are well beyond the capability of spreadsheets. And plant breeders often find themselves constrained to using MS Excel ®, Apple iWork Numbers®, or LibreOffice Calc®. Why is this the case? It’s because the admin is either unaware of the availability of such specific software systems or unappreciative of their role in the advancement of plant breeding.


People will always resist change. Managers will always be reluctant to let old habits go. Especially if those habits that have worked just fine for the past X years. They will never wonder whether an investment in plant breeding software is financially justifiable. Few financial departments can rely solely on spreadsheets for their operations, and plant breeding is no less essential. In a previous article we considered that using spreadsheets instead of plant breeding software is a million dollar decision. The time saved by plant breeding software and the ability to leave a variety on the market for an extra year brings huge gains.

Plant breeding software supports the breeding process in its entirety. It addresses the particular needs of breeders from standardization, organized and secure databases, easy access to current and historical data and allow for team collaboration. Advanced software like Genovix® allows automated collection and synchronization of data between a mobile application and the main system. Thereby, minimizing the chance of errors.

Data processed using a spreadsheet can be compromised by just an automatic formatting function. This is very worrisome. The shortcomings of spreadsheets extend to time wastage, lack of data standards, data vulnerability, laborious analyses, among others. Investing in a quality plant breeding and variety testing software helps seed companies overcome these shortcomings. Researchers and agronomists yield more in terms of productivity and efficiency. The use of next-generation technology also helps breeders maintain a competitive advantage, thanks to unmatched analytical power.

While staff may find it challenging to inform senior officials about or request the procurement of plant breeding software, they are obligated to help the management view these tools as an investment and not an expense.  The tools are vital to the advancement of new selections and consequently improving the company’s financial efficiency and productivity. And managers know the cost of ill-advised decisions.   

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