The overall objective to plant breeding is to improve the plant species. These improvements are usually better yield, vigor, resistance to faults, improved quality, persistence, and hardiness. These traits are specific and often easily measured. Within a few growing seasons success can be determined. Improvements in yield can most easily be demonstrated. Breeding for better quality is another desire but often more difficult to measure. Quality is influenced by more factors and not as specific as many other traits. It also takes more time to determine the health benefits to livestock from higher quality forage plants.

Forage producers are interested in reducing costs. Most plant traits will directly influence production costs. Some more than others. Increased yields, improved vigor, and better quality will benefit all producers. Other traits are more helpful to certain locations and circumstances. Drought resistance is important to species selected for the Southwest. Expensive irrigation will dramatically influence production costs. Forage managers must carefully look at their operations and determine which plant characteristics will have the most impact on reducing costs while yielding maximum benefits.