Berry Production


Distance education (external studies) course for the enthusiast or commercial grower, covering all aspects of the care & cultivation of common, and uncommon, berry fruit: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, etc

Course CodeBHT309
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


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Study Berry Fruits by Distance Education

Become a Berry Fruit Expert


Learn from qualifed horticulture tutors who know the industry, the plants and the groing techniques well and benefit from their decades of experience.

Some berry fruits are grown widely, in different climates and countries (eg. strawberries), whilst others might be appropriate or popular in only some regions.
Discover what grows in your locality and how to grow it.

This course provides a sound broad based training for commercial growers and/or staff of berry farms. It is equally relevant to the enthusiast hobby grower who wants to get more serious about growing berry fruits.

 


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Plant Families, Species, Cultivars, Varieties
    • What is a Berry -Botanical Characteristics (Simple fruits, Compound Fruits)
    • Information contacts (ie: nurseries, seed, clubs etc.)
  2. Which Varieties to Grow
    • Site Selection,
    • How much land
    • Site Chjaracteristics
    • Climate
    • Winter Chilling Requirements
    • Biological Considerations
    • Further Considerations affecting what to Grow
    • Review of Significant Berries including
    • Blackcurrant
    • Blueberry
    • Brambleberry
    • Blackberry
    • Other Rubus species
    • Cranberry
    • Gooseberry
    • Grape
    • KiwiFruit
    • Passionfruit
    • Raspberry
    • Strawberry
  3. Lesser Grown Varieties of Berry Plants
    • Alpine Strawberry
    • Cape Gooseberry
    • Elderberry
    • Goji berry
    • Guava
    • Hardy Kiwi Fruit
    • Lignoberry
    • Pepino
    • Tree Tomato
    • Mulberry
    • Production Plan for Berry Cropping
  4. Culture
    • Soils
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Watering
    • Pest & disease
    • Feeding
    • Pruning
    • Protection from wind, salt, air, etc.
  5. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating berries
    • Seed, Cuttings, Layering
    • Aids to Propagation
    • Hardening off Young Plants
    • Propagation of selected varieties
  6. Weed Control & Irrigation
    • What is a Weed
    • How Weeds Spread
    • Preventative methods of Control
    • Eliminating growing weeds
    • Identifying Weeds
    • Water Infiltration and Retention
    • Drainage
    • Improving water Infiltration
    • Soil Moisture Classes
    • Measuring Water Available to Plants
    • When to Irrigate
    • Irrigating Berry Crops
  7. Harvesting & Marketing Berries
    • When and How to Harvest
    • Understanding Fruit Ripening
    • Harvesting Techniques
    • Post Harvest Treatments
  8. Commercial Berry Growing
    • Marketing Berries
    • The Marketing Process
    • Understanding Supply and Demand
    • Cost, Quality and Quantity characteristics in a Crop
    • Farm Layout for Better Management

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Differentiate between different types of berry fruit cultivars.
  • Determine varieties of berry fruit suitable for growing in a specified locality.
  • Explain the cultural treatment for a range of berry fruits, in specified situations.
  • Determine how to propagate a range of different berry plants.
  • Explain the harvesting of different berry crops.
  • Develop strategies for commercial success in a berry fruit enterprise.

What You Will Do

  • Distinguish between common and botanical definitions for the term berry.
  • Compare the botanical characteristics of berry fruits from four different taxonomic families.
  • Prepare a collection of twenty-five plant reviews of different berry varieties,including the following details on each plant:
    • Plant names (Common and scientific)
    • A photo, illustration or pressed specimen
    • Cultural details
    • Harvest and post harvest
    • Uses (eg. valuable products).
  • Develop criteria for the selection of suitable berry fruit varieties.
  • Evaluate the performance of four different berry varieties.
  • Determine appropriate varieties of different berries to grow in a specified locality, considering a range of types, including:
    • Strawberries
    • Brambles
    • Other berries.
  • Describe an appropriate planting method for each of three specified genera of berry fruits.
  • Illustrate an appropriate pruning methods for each of four different genera of berry fruits, using sequences of drawings, photographs, or video.
  • Determine appropriate irrigation practices for two different, specified berry plantings.
  • Develop feeding programs for a twelve month period, for three different berry crops suited to growing in a particular locality.
  • Conduct simple soil tests to determine soil characteristics relevant to a proposed berry planting. Soil tests should include:
    • Soil type
    • Water holding capacity
    • pH
    • Drainage
  • Recommend appropriate soil preparation for the tested soil, prior to planting a specified berry crop.
  • Compare four different weed control practices appropriate for specified berry crops.
  • Develop soil maintenance programs for a twelve month period, on a monthly basis, for different berry crops.
  • Identify different health disorders (e.g. pests and diseases) on berry plants.
  • Develop a pest and disease control program for a twelve month period, for a specified berry crop.
  • Describe different methods for propagating specified berry plants, including:
    • Cuttings
    • Runners
    • Division
    • Layering
  • Demonstrate cutting propagation of two different berry species.
  • Produce marketable berry plants representing different genera, either as bare rooted or container plants.
  • Compare the commercial viability of propagating one specified berry by two alternative propagation techniques.
  • Explain how to determine when different types of berries are ready for harvest.
  • Describe different methods for harvesting five different types of berries, including:
    • Manual
    • Mechanical
  • Explain the harvesting of five types of berries before they are ripe, and ripening of the berries off the plant.
  • Determine appropriate post-harvest treatments for a specified commercial berry crop.
  • Develop a resource file of different items of information relevant to the berry fruit industry, including:
    • Suppliers of berry plants
    • Trade or grower associations
    • Publications
  • Determine criteria which are significant in the commercial success of a specific berry farm, which you either visit in real life or investigate on the internet.
  • Explain how a range of five different berries are prepared for the market.
  • Prepare a chart of ten different berry species that lists their shelf life.
  • Evaluate the commercial viability of three different methods of packaging and presenting berries for sale.
  • Compare common marketing strategies for berry fruits, including:
    • Selling at wholesale markets
    • Selling on contract to chain stores
    • Selling to processors
    • Roadside stalls
    • U-pick selling
  • Develop a marketing plan for one specified type of berry fruit.

SCOPE OF THIS COURSE

This course lays a foundation for growing all types of berry fruits, with an emphasis on varieties that are grown as commercial berry crops. To better understand the diversity here, consider: berries can be grouped according to the botanical families which they belong to, as outlined:

1. The Rose Family

  • These plants belong to the "Rosaceae" family.
  • This family contains 3,000 species of herbs, shrubs, creepers and trees.
  • The leaves vary from simple to compound, and are alternate or basal.
  • The flowers are typically cup shaped with five petals. 

Roseaceae berries include:

a) Genus Rubus

  • Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
  • Bramble berries:
  • Boysenberry (cultivar of Rubus ursinus)
  • Youngberry (cultivar of Rubus ursinus)
  • Loganberry (cultivar of Rubus ursinus)

b) Genus Fragaria

  • Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

c) Others

  • Juneberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Examples of other Rosaceae plants are roses, apples, peaches and plums.

2. The Erica Family.

  • The Ericaceae family is also known as the heath family.
  • The leaves are usually evergreen, and often quite leathery. The flowers are urn shaped and the plants prefer an acid soil.

a) Genus Vaccinium

  • Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium and Vaccinium myrtilloides)
  • Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

b) Genus Arctostaphylos

  • Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva‑ursi)

3. Other Berries

  • Currants and Gooseberries
  • These are both in the Saxifragaceae family.
  • Both are in the genus "Ribes".

b) Kiwifruit

  • Genus: Actinidia    Family: Actinidaceae

c) Solanum (tomato/potato) (Solanaceae) family

  • Includes the tree tomato and cape goose-berry

d) Moraceae family

  • Genus Morus (mulberry)

e) Caprifoliaceae family

  • Genus Sambucus (elderberry)

f) Others

 

Why Study this course?

Different people study this course for different reasons; for example:

  • Students of horticulture wanting to get a solid understanding of berry growing
  • Farmers looking to move into new crops
  • People already working in the berry industry may take this course for professional development; to fill the gaps in their knowledge and refresh or update things that have gone stale.
 
 

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