STOCKSCH 290F- Holistic Fruit Production

Sonia profile pic (2)
Sonia Schloemann has been working with fruit growers and teaching about fruit production with UMass Extension for 30 years

Course number:          STOCKSCH 290F (online only)
Instructor:                     Sonia Schloemann, Lecturer
Contact:                          sgs@umext.umass.edu

January 22 – May 1, 2018

Register Here

In this course we will study the principles and practices governing the establishment and management of fruit plantings from a holistic or systems perspective.  The class will cover the four main small fruit or berry crops (strawberries, raspberries/blackberries, blueberries and grapes) and four main tree fruit crops (apples, pears, peaches and plums).  Information covered will be oriented to growing conditions found in the Northeastern United States including traditional practices and innovations, organic, IPM and conventional practices.  Students will also do an independent project studying another fruit crop of their choosing that has not been covered in class.  This will allow them to learn about a fruit of special interest to them or one that is not typically grown in the Northeastern United States.

Topics will be covered in units, which will include:

  1. General site/soil basics
    1. Site suitability parameters (climate, GDD, frost-free days)
    2. Site characteristics (slope, sun exposure, wind)
    3. Soil characteristics (type, texture, chemical composition, pH, limitations)
    4. Soil health/resiliency parameters (OM, drainage, compaction, active carbon, assessment tools)
    5. Soil information resources (e.g., NOAA, NRCS, NE-SARE, ATTRA, other)
  2. Strawberry production (June bearing, Day Neutral types)
    1. Horticultural description and site/soil requirements
    2. Planting systems and cultural management (e.g., pollination, irrigation, renovation)
    3. Variety/cultivar considerations and information resources
    4. Insect, disease, weed management considerations and information resources
    5. Overwintering considerations and mulching
  3. Raspberry/blackberry production
    1. Horticultural description and site/soil requirements
    2. Planting systems and cultural practices (e.g., trellising, irrigation, summer pruning/tipping)
    3. Variety/cultivar considerations and information resources
    4. Insect, disease, weed management considerations and information resources
    5. Overwintering considerations and pruning
  4. Blueberry production (Northern Highbush types)
    1. Horticultural description and site/soil requirements
    2. Planting systems and cultural practices (e.g., pollination, mulching, irrigation)
    3. Variety/cultivar considerations and information resources
    4. Insect, disease, weed management considerations and information resources
    5. Overwintering considerations and pruning
  5. Grape production (Table and Wine Grapes)
    1. Horticultural description and site/soil requirements
    2. Planting systems and cultural practices (e.g., trellis construction, canopy management, irrigation)
    3. Variety/cultivar considerations and information resources
    4. Insect, disease, weed management considerations and information resources
    5. Overwintering considerations and pruning
  6. Apple production (Fresh eating and Cider types)
    1. Horticultural description and site/soil requirements
    2. Planting systems and cultural practices (e.g., pollination, grafting, standard forms, high density trellis systems)
    3. Variety/cultivar considerations and information resources
    4. Insect, disease, weed management considerations and information resources
    5. Overwintering considerations and pruning
  7. Pear production (European and Asian types)
    1. Horticultural description and site/soil requirements
    2. Planting systems and cultural practices (e.g., pollination, grafting)
    3. Variety/cultivar considerations and information resources
    4. Insect, disease, weed management considerations and information resources
    5. Overwintering considerations and pruning
  8. Peach/Plum production
    1. Horticultural description and site/soil requirements
    2. Planting systems and cultural practices (e.g., pollination)
    3. Variety/cultivar considerations and information resources
    4. Insect, disease, weed management considerations and information resources
    5. Overwintering considerations and pruning
  9. Plant nutrition, fertilization and soil health
    1. Pre-plant considerations
    2. Nutrient budgets
    3. Strawberry – nutrient needs and deficiency symptoms
    4. Raspberry/blackberry – nutrient needs and deficiency symptoms
    5. Highbush blueberry – nutrient needs and deficiency symptoms
    6. Grape – nutrient needs and deficiency symptoms
    7. Apple – nutrient needs and deficiency symptoms
    8. Pear – nutrient needs and deficiency symptoms
    9. Peach – nutrient needs and deficiency symptoms
    10. Plum – nutrient needs and deficiency symptoms
    11. How to develop a nutrient management plan
  10. Production budgets (Fixed and Variable Costs, Assumptions, Structure)
    1. Strawberry
    2. Raspberry/blackberry
    3. Highbush blueberry
    4. Grape
    5. Apple
    6. Pear
    7. Peach
    8. Plum
    9. Other
  11. Independent crop profile projects – share with the class
    1. Independent projects loaded and made available for viewing
    2. Projects viewed by classmates
    3. Feedback to authors from classmates
historicalprune
Women pruning apple trees in the past

Each unit will begin with a set of online lecture presentations, which will be posted at the start of that unit and remain available for the duration of the class.  Most units will run for one week with the exception of ‘Plant nutrition, fertilization and soil health’.  Reading materials and a study guide will be posted along with the lecture presentations.  Assessments (quizzes) will be given at the end of each unit.  In addition to completing all assessments, each student will be responsible for researching and completing a crop profile assignment for a small fruit crop of their choosing (other than one of the four covered in the class.) An extra credit option of completing a whole farm case study will be available to student but will not replace the required quizzes or assignment.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will gain an understanding of the site and soil requirements, planting and training systems, pruning practices, nutrient requirements, pollination needs, and pest complex facing each of the major fruit crops covered (strawberries, brambles, blueberries, grapes, apples, pears, peaches plums).
  • Students will learn how to access and use important resources like soil and tissue testing, soil survey maps, diagnostic resources, and pest management recommendations (organic and conventional) used in holistic fruit production.
  • Students will learn to research and evaluate the site and soil requirements, and the production needs of a fruit crop of their choosing.

Required Textbook: None, but each unit will have a list of readings that will be available to read online or as downloadable pdf files.

Format:  This class is a lecture format delivered via an on-line environment with unit assessments (quizzes) and an individual crop profile assignment for each student. This course is worth 3 credits and is comprehensive. The instructor will monitor online activity daily and be available for questions and support to the class throughout the week, but will not be available “24/7”.   While there is some flexibility, it is important to move along with the class, so as not to fall behind.  There are 11 units in the class.

Technology: To view the material, make sure you have the ability to access Adobe Connect (info here).  The technical requirements for the class are listed here.

Note* If you have any problems accessing any of the course material, please contact the UMass Online Tech Support office for help here.

Exams and Grades:  There will be no exams in this class.  Your grade will be based on successful completion of quizzes, submission of a crop profile assignment during the last week (unit) of the class, and constructive feedback to crop profiles submitted by classmates (this will replace a quiz for the last unit).  An extra credit opportunity may also be completed but is optional and does not replace any other requirement for the class. Points are assigned as follows:

Quizzes 70 points (10 ea.)
Individual crop profile assignment 20 points
Feedback on crop profiles of other students 10 points
Farm profile case study (extra credit) 10 points


Grades will be given using these ranges:

A 95-100
A- 90-94
B+ 87-89
B 83-86
B- 80-82
C+ 77-79
C 73-76
C- 70-72
D+ 67-69
D 63-66
F < 62

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This class is part of the Sustainable Food and Farming Online Certificate Program and will count toward the Associate of Science program.   Online classes cost $482/credit.  If you would like to register for the Certificate program, you may apply here.

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Annual Schedule for Online Classes

NOTE: The UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate has been declared eligible for Veterans Educational Benefits. For instructions see: Veterans Benefits.

If you are not interested in earning college credit, there are many non-credited workshops and short courses you can take outside of the university.  For a list see: non-university workshops and courses.

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