Many of our agricultural crops are propagated from seeds.  These can be annual crops (e.g., lettuce, wheat) or perennials (e.g., alfalfa, red clover).  Seeds contain the genetic information to produce the desired crop in a given environment.  Within a specific crop (specific genus and species), there can be a large amount of genetic diversity that can be manipulated through crop breeding to develop specific varieties, or cultivars, with traits that are enhanced or eliminated, depending on the goal.  For example, breeders can select for a variety of spinach to be more resistant to a disease, or for a tomato that ripens with less heat units.  Similarly, breeding can eliminate undesirable traits such as seed shatter, unpleasant flavors, and unacceptable appearance.  Seeds are one of the easiest technological changes for a grower to adopt and increased emphasis on crop breeding for various sustainability attributes continues to be extremely important to the food system.

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