Learn all out fruit production: citrus, pome fruits, stone fruits, berries and nuts. Manage the orchard, understand marketing. lots of practical skills along with the theory.

Course Code: BHT218
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to Grow Fruit in a Temperate Climate

    Fruit growing has changed a great deal and continues to change. Traditional fruit growing can be a difficult business in some places where it once thrived; but new opportunities are constantly opening up for anyone who has a little land, the knowledge to grow quality fruit, and the ideas and imagination to do it a little differently. Food today is big business worldwide, and people are constantly looking for new and different food products. These new products may be old varieties of standard fruits, or obscure types of fruits that are not readily available.
    This course can help you explore new opportunities, and at the same time, show you how to choose and grow better fruit varieties, appropriate to where you are wanting to grow.

    Lesson Structure

    There are 8 lessons in this course:

    1. Introduction to Temperate Fruit Growing
      • Deciding What to Grow
      • Crop Selection Criteria
      • Options of Types of Fruits: Citrus, Berries, Vine Fruits, Pome Fruits, Stone Fruits, Nuts, etc
      • The Botany of a Fruit and Fruit Development
      • The Flower and Inflorescence
      • Types of Fruit: simple, aggregate, multiple
      • Modification of Fruits
      • How Seed Forms, Buds
      • Terminology
      • Morphological Changes in Plants
    2. Establishing an Orchard
      • Considerations when Establishing an Orchard
      • Site Selection; size, location, climate, water, pest and disease exposure, etc
      • Calculating Effective Rainfall
      • Drawing an Orchard Plan
    3. General Cultural Practices
      • Understanding Soils
      • Physical Soil Characteristics; soil texture, structure, etc
      • Chemical Characteristics of Soil; pH, Nutrition
      • Soil Water
      • Simple Soil Tests
      • Dealing with Fruit Tree Problems
      • Identifying a Problem
      • Pests; chewing insects, sucking insects, other pests, birds
      • Diseases; fungal, virus, bacterial
      • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
      • Chemical Pest Control
      • Non Chemical Pest Control
      • Common Environmental Problems
      • Staking Plants, Cages and tree guards
      • Weed Control
      • Nutrition and Plant Feeding
      • Pruning Fruit Trees
      • Pruning Systems
      • Water, Drainage and Irrigation
    4. Tree Fruits
      • Deciduous Fruit Trees
      • Winter Chilling Requirements
      • Climate Needs
      • Choosing Varieties
      • Pollination Needs
      • Growing Apples
      • Apricot
      • Cherry
      • Fig
      • Loquat
      • Asian Pear or Nashi
      • Olive
      • Peach and Nectarine
      • Pear, Plum
      • Pepino, Pomegranate, Quince, Tree Tomato
      • Using Compost
    5. Vines, Nuts and Berries
      • Nut Growing Introduction
      • Walnut Culture
      • Chestnut, Almond, Macadamia, Pecan, American Hazelnut, Filbert, etc
      • Passionfruit Culture
      • Chinese Gooseberry
      • Grape Cultivation
      • Overview of Berry Fruit Growing
      • Strawberry Growing
      • Raspberry, Cape Gooseberry, Mulberry, Blueberry, Elderberry, Currants, Cranberry, Brambles
    6. Citrus
      • Introduction to Citrus Culture
      • Overview of Species
      • Temperature Tolerance
      • Culture and Planting Citrus
      • Citrus Problems and treatments
      • Citrus Directory; review of main types
    7. Cultural Management of a Fruit Plantation or Orchard
      • Developing a Maintenance Program
      • The Production Plan
      • Producing a Flow Chart (Timetable) for a crop
    8. Marketing Your Produce
      • Introduction
      • Marketing Options
      • Conducting Market Research
      • Standards; quality, quantity, cost efficiency
      • Sales Price
      • Example of Harvest and Post Harvest treatment of a Crop


    • Identify different types of fruit crops, which can be successfully grown in the learner's region.
    • Explain the nature of the fruit industry in the learner's region (locality).
    • Determine the cultural requirements for different fruit crops.
    • Develop a plan for the establishment of an orchard.
    • Formulate appropriate methods for marketing specific fruit crops grown in the learner's locality.
    • Develop a calendar for cultural management of a fruit plantation, or orchard.

    What You Will Do

    • You will learn a wide variety of things, through a combination of reading, interacting with tutors, undertaking research and practical tasks. Here are just some of the things you will be doing:
    • Compile a resource file of different sources of information regarding
      • commercial fruit varieties.
    • Compare the facilities used to produce different fruit crops, for a specified locality.
    • Determine criteria for selecting a fruit variety to grow as a commercial crop,
    • Select different fruit varieties with commercial potential for a specified location.
    • Analyse the physical layout of a specified orchard.
    • Determine the scope of commercial fruit growing in a specified locality.
    • Demonstrate standard soil tests to three different soils to determine:
      • Soil type
      • pH
      • Drainage
      • Water holding capacity
    • Evaluate the different soils tested to determine their suitability for growing different fruit varieties.
    • Analyse the culture
    • Watering
    • Weed control
    • Soil management
    • Pruning
    • Fertilising
    • Pest control
    • Disease control
    • Determine soil management practices, including:
      • Nutrition
      • Soil structure
      • Cultivation
      • Weed control
    • Determine the susceptibility of specified fruit species to pest and disease problems.
    • Explain how to control a range of different, specified pests and diseases, on different fruit varieties grown.
    • Develop sets of guidelines for pruning different types of fruiting plants.
    • Determine the factors which are critical to growing fruit trees in a specific locality.
    • Determine criteria to select a site for fruit growing in a specific locality.
    • Compare the physical layout of different orchards.
    • Prepare a plan for establishing a fruit growing area, I including:
    • Concept layout plan drawn to scale
    • Materials list (including plants)
    • Cost estimates for establishment.
    • Analyse different marketing systems in the fruit industry, including at local, national and international levels.
    • Explain the common reasons for price fluctuations in the fruit industry.
    • Compare different fruit crops in relation to different factors, including:
      • Storage requirements
      • Storage life
      • Harvesting time
      • Shelf life
      • Transport to market
    • Evaluate the presentation and packaging of three different fruits, for marketing through different marketing systems.
    • Analyse different marketing strategies used by a specific fruit grower.
    • Develop a marketing strategy, including:
      • Marketing stages
      • Marketing schedule (ie. timetable)
      • Estimated marketing costs
      • Handling procedures
      • Promotions, for a specific fruit crop.
    • Differentiate between the cultural practices undertaken by different growers, on the same crop, grown in different localities.
    • Determine the cultural practices necessary to grow different fruit crops for a twelve month period, on a specified site.
    • Prepare a monthly calendar, covering a twelve month period, for cultural practices in a fruit plantation or orchard.

    Working as a Fruit Grower

    Orchardists grow fruit or nuts (and occasionally other products) on trees. Their work can involve tree planting on a new site or removing and replanting trees on an old site. Planting is only a small, but important part of the job.

    Unlike other horticultural crops, fruit and nut trees can take many years from when they are planted, until when they are productive i.e. producing a viable crop. Many will take 3 to 5 years to become fully productive, and some more than 10 years. Some fruits (e.g. pawpaw and banana) may reach full production within a year or two of planting. The work involved on an orchard can be different while the trees are establishing, to what it is after the plants are established.

    Once established, the work of an orchardist generally follows a standard annual program. Fruit (or nuts) will be harvested at a certain time each year, and after harvest there will be periods when the orchardist needs to attend to weed control (e.g. cultivation, mulching or spraying), pruning (more important with some crops than others), fertilising, watering, drainage works and other tasks.

    Some fruits will be harvested and sent to market for sale immediately. Sometimes though, the orchardist will harvest and store the produce in a cool store, or under controlled atmosphere, then sold throughout the year as and when it is advantageous to get an optimum price.

    There are periods when the workload is less, and other times (usually harvest) when work demands are hectic and hours of work can be very long.

    Where They Work?
    Most people who work on orchards are the owners, family members, or seasonal (usually unskilled or semi-skilled) workers. Many orchardists will employ seasonal labour for picking fruit, and some employ casual or part-time labour for other things such as pruning.

    Certain fruits and nuts are more productive and can attract much higher levels of income than others. Mainstream fruits (e.g. oranges and apples) can sometimes be over-produced and when that happens, the income may be poor, but in a season when production is low (e.g. during a drought or after a flood) these mainstream fruits may be in low supply and high demand, and the orchardist can do very well. Some orchardists have reduced risk and improved profitability by value adding to their produce (e.g. making wine, producing preserves, or producing dried fruits). Others have focussed on growing rare and exotic varieties, creating a niche market by supplying a fruit that no one else supplies.

    Nuts offer a slightly different opportunity to fruits because they generally keep better. If you harvest a nut crop, you can transport it to a different market without fear of the produce bruising or rotting, and if there is a glut when you harvest a crop, the nuts can be stored for a long time until prices improve, then sold.

    Large fruit producers have the opportunity of signing contracts with processing factories or supermarket chains which guarantees their sales; contract growing though, is always a compromise where you accept a lower than optimum price, in order to be certain of a sale at harvest.

    Many fruits will have dozens, and some hundreds, of named cultivars.  Even within the same type of fruit, the characteristics of the fruit can vary a lot (e.g. taste, what it can be used for, time of year it is harvested, etc.). If, for example, an orchardist grows all of the same variety of apple, it may only be suitable to selling for cooking, or for juicing, or for eating fresh - but not all three. If the entire orchard is the same apple variety, the apples may all need to be harvested around the same time. If you are harvesting fruit with a mechanical harvester and selling under contract to a juicing plant, it can be advantageous to be harvesting everything in the same week. However, if you are harvesting by hand and selling fruit over an extended period, you would be better growing apples that can be harvested at different times. There are apple varieties that can be harvested mid to late summer, and others that are not harvested till mid autumn.


    Know the Conditions of Your Site -and Choose Cultivars that Suit

    Climate Considerations
    All plants are adapted to particular climatic conditions. To get the best out of your plants in terms of both quantity and quality you need to choose a site that provides conditions best suited to the particular plants you are growing, or if you already have a site choose plants that suit the site. Alternatively, you can modify the site in some way to alter conditions to make them more suitable for your plants, for example, build dams to provide additional water for irrigation or grow windbreaks.

    In many countries climatic data is often readily available, for example, the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia provides climatic data in a variety of forms for most of the continent that can be easily used to determine growing conditions at potential fruit growing sites.

    All plants have a range of temperatures in which they will grow. Within this range is an optimum range where the plants will give their best results. For example, a particular plant may grow within the range 4 - 35ºC (39-95ºF) with an optimum range of 15-25º C. (59-77ºF) Maximum temperatures at a potential site are generally not as critical as minimum temperatures. At high temperatures, plants may slow their growth to reduce water loss, whereas at low temperatures the plants may cease growth or even die. As temperatures can vary quite significantly, not only from season to season but also from day to night, it is important to consider the annual temperature cycle for each potential fruit growing site. Tables or maps that indicate the average maximum and minimum temperatures for each month can be easily used to determine the potential growing season for different plants at that site.

    Frosts can cause major damage to plants. Plants recently removed from protected conditions, such as in a greenhouse or shade house, have generally not had enough time to "harden up" and are therefore even more easily damaged by frost. Frost frequency depends on location and on local topography. Frost conditions are most likely to occur on clear cold nights, with little or no wind, at inland sites or at higher altitudes. It is least likely to occur in slightly elevated coastal areas, particularly where it is windy. The likelihood of frost occurrence can be readily established from climatic records, and from talking to locals.

    One of the major limiting factors determining what you grow in any particular site is the rainfall the site receives. Deficiencies in rainfall can in many cases be offset by irrigation from alternative sources of water, however, if these sources are not available, or if the cost to supply the irrigation water is prohibitive then you need to choose a site that provides sufficient natural rainfall for your plants. There are four major points to consider regarding rainfall. These are:-

    • Distribution - This refers to when the rain falls. 25mm (an inch) of rainfall in a normally moist site during winter conditions will not have the same significance as the same amount falling in a normally drier site, or in summer.
    • Variability - Some areas have very consistent rainfall, others do not. Two sites may have the same average annual rainfall, but there may be quite different variation around that average at each site. For example, each site may have an average annual rainfall of 1000mm (39inches) but one may vary between 250 (10 inches) and 2000mm (78 inches) from year to year, while the other may only vary between 750 and 1300mm (30-69 inches) from year to year.
    • Frequency - This is a measure of how often it rains, and can be important in determining the size of water storages. For example where there is a large interval between periods of rain then water storages (e.g. farm tanks) will have to be larger than for sites where rain falls frequently.
    • Intensity - This is the total rainfall annual divided by the number of wet days (days exceeding 0.2mm of rain). This is very important in terms of runoff. In areas of high intensity rainfall runoff is generally high, and consequently, the % of water infiltrating into the soil is low in comparison to areas with low intensity rainfall. Erosion can be a major problem in high intensity rainfall areas, while getting sufficient runoff to boost water storage can be a problem in low intensity areas.

    Evaporation is the loss of water as water vapour. It increases as temperatures increase, humidity drops and winds increase. It can be measured by determining the amount of water evaporated from a free water surface exposed in a pan. In countries, such as Australia, where surface water storage is extremely important for agricultural purposes, evaporation is very significant. As with other climatic data maps or tables of evaporation data is generally readily available.

    Effective rainfall
    Perhaps the most important climatic parameter that determines the growing season at a particular site is 'Effective Rainfall'. This can be defined as the rainfall over a certain period (e.g. month) minus the soil evaporation (equivalent to approximately one third of pan evaporation figures) during the same period. Positive figures indicate that soil moisture is increasing, or in other words, the amount of rainfall received in that period exceeded the amount of water lost through evaporation. Negative figures indicate that evaporation has exceeded rainfall and that the soil is drying up. The number of months in succession in which rainfall exceeds evaporation (as long as the temperature isn't a limiting factor) determines the growing season of a particular site.

    Wind is important to plant growth in a number of ways the stronger the wind the greater the amount of evaporation. Strong winds can physically damage plants and facilities (e.g. sheds). Slight winds on cold clear nights help prevent frosts occurring. Sites subject to regular strong or gusty winds, hot dry winds, or very cold winds should be avoided unless the site can be readily modified, for example by windbreaks, or protective structures such as greenhouses.

    Extreme hazards
    Is the area subject to hail, snowfalls, thunderstorms, lighting or fires? These may be infrequent, but they can do a lot of damage to both plants and the property facilities themselves.

    These occur when local conditions modify the climate in some way from the general overall climatic conditions of the area. For example trees provide shade & maybe frost or sun protection, but can restrict light and reduce growth rates (an advantage with some and disadvantage with other plants).



    No matter what horticulture sector you want to work in (or do work in) you need basic and essential knowledge that helps you to be a success.

    This course is comprehensive - it covers all aspects of fruit growing including ways to value add or diversify a business to reach a full income potential.

    You will benefit if:

    • You are serious about fruit growing
    • You work in this field and want to step up into a more senior role
    • You want to understand all the basics needed to set up a fruit growing enterprise - large or small
    • You want to enter the field as an employee with views to a career
    • You want more knowledge as a backyard grower.




    Course Contributors

    The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

    Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

    Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
    Initially she worked with the Depart

    John Mason (Horticulturist)

    Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
    Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
    He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

    Dr. Lynette Morgan (Crops)

    Lyn has a broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. Her first job was on a mushroom farm, and at university she undertook a major project studying tomatoes. She has studied nursery production and written books on hydroponic production of herbs.

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