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


December 21 – January 17, 2016

Instructor: Dr. Susan Han,, Associate Professor, U of Massachusetts

Time schedule: Summer online course

Prerequisites: None

potato-post-harvest-handlingCourse 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 information for commodities of various plant organs. Small-scale handling practices will be emphasized.

Required texts: None

Grading scheme: Grade will be based on:

  • First exam (15%)
  • Second exam (15%)
  • Third exam (15%)
  • Fourth exam (15%)
  • Active learning activities (40%)

Grading details:

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

fruitharvestActive 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.

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 postharvestlosses
5 Role of humidity in postharvest water loss
EXAM 1, Active learning assignment 1

Commercial Practices and Procedures

6 Quality standards
7 Harvesting and handling systems
8 Precooling
9 Cold storage
EXAM 2, Active learning assignment 2

Commercial handling of various plant organs

10 Handling pomes
11 Handling grapes and berries
12 Handling stone fruits
13 Handling leafy vegetables
14 Handling root crops
15 Handling flower and stem vegetables
16 Handling fruit and seed vegetables
17 Handling of subtropical and tropical fruits
EXAM 4, Active learning assignment 3


We are also offering the following winter classes online:

STOCKSCH 100 – Botany for Gardeners (GenEd-BS; 4 credits)

STOCKSCH 197 A – Backyard Homesteading (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 258 – Urban Agriculture: Innovative Farming Systems for the 21st Century (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 355 – Community Food Systems  (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 397 ES – Exploring Success in Sustainability: Creating Community Based Enterprises (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 397NP – Non-profit Management for Community Food Programs  (3 credits)


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