Commercial Vegetable Production BHT222

Learn to grow vegetables commercially.

Start, manage, or seek work on a vegetable market garden.

  • Course Duration:  100 hours
  • Assignments:  8
  • Exams:   1

CONTENT

There are eight lessons as follows:

  • Lesson 1.    Introduction to Vegetable Growing
  • Making the farm Pay
  • Understanding economoc principles -supply and demand, scale of economy, etc.
  • Planning for the farm
  • Production planning
  • Financial planning and management
  • Land care and land management
  • Marketing
  • Personal welfare
  • Risk management -spreading risk, quality management, contingency planning, liquidity
  • Creating a sustainable farm enterprise
  • Planning for sustainability
  • Planning for drought
  • Crop selection
  • Monocultures
  • Alterenating crops, broad acre or row crops
  • Growing Brassicas -Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Pak Choi, Broccoli, Radish, Turnip
  • Growing Legumes -Beans, Broad Beans, Peas
  • Growing Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes

Lesson 2.   Cultural Practices for Vegetables

  • Explain general cultural practices used for vegetable production.
  • Crop rotation
  • Soils
  • Plant foods
  • Cover Crops
  • Legumes and innoculation
  • Growing various cover crops -Barley, Buckwheat, Canola, Lucerne, Field pea, Lupins, Oats,
  • Sorgham, Clover, etc.
  • Ways of using a cover crop
  • Cultivation techniques
  • Compost
  • Crop Scheduling
  • Planting Vegetables -seed, hybrid seed, storing seed, sowing seed
  • Understanding Soils
  • Dealing with Soil Problems
  • Plant nutrition and feeding

Lesson 3.   Pest, Disease and Weed Control

  • Weed control -hand weeding, mechanical, chemical and biological weed control methods
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Non chemical pest control
  • Understanding Pesticide lables
  • Understanding the law in relation to agricultural chemicals
  • Plant Pathology introduction
  • Understanding Fungi
  • Understanding insects, virus and other pathogens
  • Insect control -quarantine, clean far5ming, chemicals, biological controls
  • Review of common diseases
  • Review common pests
  • Review common environmental problems
  • Review common weeds

Lesson 4.   Hydroponic and Greenhouse Growing

  • Introduction to hydroponics
  • Types of systems
  • Nutrient solutions
  • NFT and other systems for vegetable production
  • Growing in a greenhouse (in the ground or hydroponics)
  • Components of a Greenhouse System
  • Types of Greenhouses and common greenhouse designs (venlo, mansard, wide span, multi span,
  • poly tunnel, Sawtooth, Retractable roof, etc)
  • Shade houses, Cold Frames
  • Environmental Control -heating, ventilation, lighting, etc
  • Controlling moisture (misting, fog, etc)
  • Review of various vegetables -Cucurbits (Cucumber, Melon, Pumpkin, Watermelon, Zucchini)

Lesson 5.   Growing Selected Vegetable Varieties

  • Determine specific cultural practices for selected vegetable varieties.
  • Tropical Vegetables - Sweet Potato and Taro
  • Less common vegetables - Globe Artichoke, Jerusalem Artichoke, Asparagus, Chicory, Endive,
  • Garlic, Leek, Okra, Rhubarb
  • Other Crops -Beetroot (Red Beet), Capsicum, Carrot, Celery, Sweet Corn, Eggplant, Parsnip,
  • Spinach

Lesson 6.   Irrigation

  • Water and Irrigation
  • Infiltration
  • Internal Drainage
  • Flood, Sprinkler and Trickle irrigation
  • The objective of irrigation
  • Transpiration and Wilting Point
  • When to irrigate Timing irrigations
  • Detecting water deficiency or excess
  • Understanding soil moisture
  • Pumps, sprinklers and other equipment
  • Water hammer
  • Improving Drainage
  • Managing erosion

Lesson 7.    Harvest and Post-Harvest

  • Introduction to harvesting
  • Post harvest treatment of vegetables
  • Cooling harvested produce
  • Harvesting tips
  • Storing vegetables

Lesson 8.   Marketing Vegetables

  • Introduction
  • Standards for cost efficiency, quality and quantity
  • Options for Marketing Produce
  • Market Research
  • How to sell successfully

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

  • Select appropriate vegetable varieties for different situations.
  • Explain general cultural practices used for vegetable production.
  • Explain the management of potential problems, including pests, diseases, weeds, and environmental disorders, in vegetable production.
  • Explain alternative cultural techniques, including greenhouse and hydroponic production, for vegetables.
  • Determine specific cultural practices for selected vegetable varieties.
  • Determine the harvesting, and post-harvest treatment of different vegetables.
  • Develop marketing strategies for different vegetables.

Tips: Post Harvest Treatment of Vegetables
Once crops are picked, quality can not be improved only maintained - processing needs to be fast and efficient.

Field processing
Some crops may be partially processed in the field at picking i.e. trimming of lettuces, cauliflowers. Once harvested crops are then moved to the packing sheds and according to the requirements of each crop are then sorted to remove damaged or decayed product, graded and sized, washed (in some cases), packed, cooled, and stored before being transported to market.

To ensure that quality is maintained the following points need to be considered:

  • Staff Training i.e. staff need to know that how a crop is handled, from harvest through to distribution, affects the quality and shelf-life.
  • Adequate staff supervision to ensure procedures are followed
  • Setting realistic processing times i.e. hurried processing can increase crop damage
  • Use the correct tools and equipment and storage bins to minimise damage
  • Ensure the crop isn’t compromised: through contaminated water during the cleaning process, soil contamination at picking, or dirty storage bins and packing shed equipment.
  • Ensure that product is cooled correctly.

Cooling

The most important factor in maintaining post harvest quality is temperature.
The crop is cooled after harvest in order to quickly reduce the field heat thereby prolonging the shelf-life of the product. The enzyme degradation in the vegetable is suppressed through cooling preventing softening. It also slows water loss, inhibits the growth of mould and bacteria as well as slowing down the ethylene production thereby also slowing ripening.
Cooling also allows the producer to store crops for short periods in order to stagger flow to market. This is particularly important for:
High yield producers; it is not beneficial to flood the market.
Smaller producers supplying local restaurants, retailers direct, or open farm (i.e. pick your own producers).

It is important to choose the correct cooling methods and equipment according to the crop produced. Not all crops require or benefit from the same cooling systems or temperatures. In fact some crops may even be damaged through incorrect settings. Tomatoes for example would be damaged if cooled to the same temperature possible for Broccoli. Cooling systems are best
Some cooling methods are faster then others and choice will also be dictated by the volume of produce that is cooled at any given time, the volume harvested in a season and also the actual packaging used. Certain types of packaging may facilitate faster cooling, but will need to comply with organic standards – packaging should also be kept to a minimum.
The small grower will not have the same cooling requirements volume wise as the broad acre grower. The producer must also keep in mind the expense of the cooling system. The sell price of the product will need to take into account the cost of the entire production process including cooling. If the cost of cooling becomes too high the price of the product may not be competitive or the system may not be able to pay for itself even in the long term.

 
 
 
 
MEET OUR EXPERTS
John L. Mason Dip.Hort.Sc., Sup'n Cert., FIOH, FPLA, MAIH, MACHPER, MASA
Author of the best selling book "Commercial Hydroponics", started teaching and practicing hydroponics in the early 1970's. Has worked across many areas of horticulture for 450 yrs; garden editor for Home Grown Magazine.
Dr Lynette Morgan B.Hort.Tech(Hons), PhD in hydroponic greenhouse production
Partner in SUNTEC International Hydroponic Consultants
, Lynette is involved in many aspects of hydroponic production, including remote and on site consultancy services for new and existing commercial greenhouse growers worldwide as well as research trials and product development for manufacturers of hydroponic products. Lynette is also the author of 6 hydroponic technical books
Bob James QDAH. B. Applied Sc(Hort Tech),Grad Dip. Mgt, M;Sc (Enviro Sc.), PDC.
Bob has over 50 years experience in Government and Private Horticulture and Environmental Management Consulting.






 
 
   

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