Are You Using ALL Your Data?

- Dieter Mulitze

If you don’t make breeding decisions using all your data, you won’t be able to make the best decisions possible.

The way to do this is with good database software designed specifically for plant breeding. There are many facets to the breeding process, and they all have to be managed, linked, and recorded in order to make optimal breeding decisions. The second part is good analysis. Those two main components are crucial for any breeding program.

Any good database should be able to:

Show you all the data for a given trait. Maybe you have clubroot disease or a new race of stem rust. Pull up all the data that you gathered on it last year — you might see something there.

Give you all the data on one genotype or one variety. It’s like opening hundreds of Excel sheets all at one time. This allows for more structured queries, and in the event you want to pull up all the data on one hybrid as compared to a check, the data is at your fingertips. Or what if you really need to do this for several or many varieties all at once?

Make an instant comparison. I have spoken with people who have told me they have all their data accessible in Excel, but can’t open or see all the data at once. Not only does this not make for instant access, it negatively affects your decision-making.

A good database makes things easier and gives you the ability to probe your data and make the best decisions possible. This will save you time, which is one of the most valuable commodities you have. I recall a client re-analyzing 25 years worth of data using the most sophisticated plant breeding database software, and discovered it had indeed enabled him to release the best hybrids possible over all those years.

That gives you a major competitive advantage. A lot of people say, “Well, we’ve been releasing hybrids possible for years using Excel.” But what if they weren’t the best ones? What if by mining all the data possible, you could have found better ones? How much more revenue could that have provided for your company?

The quality of your database impacts your ability to discover the best possible hybrid that you’ve got, and you’re only going to do that if you mine all the data that you have. Use all your data to maximum advantage to maintain — or gain — your competitive edge.