STOCKSCH 397FV – Postharvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables – From Farm to Table


Postharvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables – From Farm to Table

July 6 – August 14, 2015

REGISTER Here (after March 16)

Instructor: Dr. Susan Han,, 413-545-5228413-545-5228

Prerequisites: None

Course Description:  This course will include an introduction to the environmental and biological factors that contribute to postharvest loss of fruits and vegetables, commercial procedures of harvesting, handling, and storage of horticultural commodities, and specific handling steps for commodities of various plant organs. Small-scale handling practices will be emphasized.

Required textsNone

Grade will be based on:

  • First exam (20%)
  • Second exam (20%)
  • Third exam (25%)
  • Active learning activities (25%)
  • A term paper (10%)

Exams. Exams will be a combination of different types of questions, including some problem-solving questions concerning real-world postharvest problems.

Active learning assignments. Active learning assignments will be created to provide students with hands-on experience for some of the concepts discussed in the course. An example of an active learning assignment includes a description of an experimental design so students can set up an experiment at home that is related to the concepts learned in lectures. Forms will be developed for students to collect data. Reports will be submitted through the course management website. Other active learning assignments might involve a real-world postharvest problem and students will be asked to resolve the issue. The due date of each assignment will be announced on the course management system. Ten points will be deducted for every day past the due date.

Paper. Each student will work alone to write a postharvest paper on a commodity or postharvest technology of his/her choice. Papers should be 3-4 double-spaced pages of text and include at least 5 refereed citations.

Academic Honesty. It is expected that all work will be completed individually. See plagiarism handout for details on proper use and crediting of primary literature. Violations of the academic honesty policy will be reported to the Academic Honesty Office and result in a zero grade for the assignment.

Accommodation Policy. We are committed to providing equal educational opportunities and fair assessments for all students, and will work with Disability Services and students to arrange appropriate accommodations for student needs. Our ability to do this depends on being informed of student needs as soon as possible in the semester, and it is the student’s responsibility to inform instructors of their needs with sufficient time for accommodations to be arranged.

 Course Outline

Environmental and biological factors

1 An overview of postharvest losses
2 Role of respiration in postharvest losses
3 Role of ethylene in senescence, postharvest losses and in fruit ripening
4 Role of temperature in respiration, senescence, fruit ripening, and postharvest losses
5 Role of transpiration in postharvest water loss

Commercial Practices and Procedures

6 Maturity and quality standards
7 Harvesting and handling systems
8 Temperature attainment and control – precooling and storage
9 Modified atmosphere
10 Transportation and distribution

Commercial handling of various plant organs

11 Small fruits including berries
12 Pome, stone fruits, subtropical and tropical fruits
13 Vegetables – Leafy vegetables
14 Vegetables – Root crops
15 Vegetables – immature and mature fruits



This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program.   To register for upcoming classes, see UMass Online.  Most classes cost $371/credit.  If you would like to register for the Certificate program, you may apply here.

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