Learn tropical fruit production by distance education study, learning to grow tropical and subtropical fruits. Understand how to grow fruit such as Avocados, and Bananas.

Course Code: BHT217
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Have you ever thought of having your own tropical orchard? 
  • Explore the huge range of fruits that grow in the tropics and sub tropics
  • Grow on a small scale or large; as a commercial enterprise for self sufficiency
  • Study from anywhere, at your own pace under the guidance of a team of "expert tutors" 
This course will help you establish your own orchard and grow a variety of fruit and nut trees, berries, vines and other warm climate fruits, such as avocados, bananas, pawpaw, cacao, coffee, macadamia, lychee, mango, pomegranate, pineapple, limes, olives, among many many others; whether its for personal consumption or for marketing and selling your produce.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction To Warm Climate Fruit Growing
    • Deciding what to grow
    • Where to get helpful informationm and start networking
    • Scope of Warm Fruit Growing -Review of main groups: Citrus, Berries, Nuts, Vines, Other fruits.
    • Understanding plant naming
    • Review of tropical fruit families:Anacardiaceae, Annonaceae, Apocynaceae, Bombaceae, Bursaraceae, Ebenaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Flacourtiaceae, Guttiferae, Lauraceae, Lecythidaceae, Malpighiaceae, Meliaceae, Moraceae, Musaceae, Myrtaceae, Oxalidaceae, Palmae, Pasifloraceae, Proteaceae, Rhamnaceae,Rubiaceae,Rutaceae, Sapindaceae.
    • The botany of a fruit
    • Types of Fruits
  2. Establishing An Orchard
    • Develop a plan for the establishment of an orchard
    • Site considerations -choosing a site
    • Understanding Soils and Nutrition
    • Soil Testing
    • Several warm climate fruits are then reviewed including: Avocado Banana, Citrus, Cocao, Coffee, Macadamia and Paw Paw
  3. General Cultural Practices
    • Fertilsers and Nutrition
    • Pest and Disease -determining and managing problems
    • What problems occur on what fruit plants
    • Weed control
    • Frost and sun protection
    • Drainage
    • Pruning
  4. Tree Fruits
    • Avocado
    • Banana
    • Star Fruit (Carambola)
    • Custard Apple
    • Durian
    • Jackfruit
    • Lychee
    • Mango
    • Mangosteen
    • Rambutan
    • Sapodila
    • White Sapote
    • Paw Paw
  5. Nuts, Vines and Berries
    • Strawberry
    • Solanum
    • Pepino
    • Tamarillo
    • Lilly Pilly
    • Passionfruit
    • Coconut
    • Macadamia
    • Peanut
    • Pecan
    • Pistacio
    • Cashew
    • Brazil Nut
  6. Citrus and other Fruits
    • Suitability to different climates.
    • Grapefruit
    • Mandarin
    • Tangelo
    • Sweet Orange
    • Meyer Lemon and other Lemons
    • Limes
    • Figs
    • Olives
    • Guava
    • Pineapple
    • Pomegranate, Persimmon, Quandong etc
  7. Cultural Management Of A Fruit Plantation or Orchard
    • Flow charting a crop
  8. Marketing Your Produce
    • Considering marketing options
    • Market Research
    • Maintaining marketing standards and selling


  • Identify different types of fruit crops, which can be successfully grown.
  • Explain the nature of the fruit industry
  • 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
  • Develop a calendar for cultural management of a fruit plantation, or orchard.

What You Will Do

  • 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 six different fruit crops, in 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 three 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 twenty different, specified pests and diseases, on different fruit varieties grown.
  • Develop sets of guidelines for pruning different types of fruits.
  • Determine the factors which are critical to growing fruit trees.
  • Determine criteria to select a site for fruit growing.
  • Compare the physical layout of two different orchards.
  • Prepare a plan for establishing a fruit growing area, in a specified locality, including:
    • Concept layout plan drawn to scale
    • Materials list (including plants)
    • Cost estimates for the establishment.
  • Analyse three different marketing systems in the fruit industry, 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 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 two 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.

What is a Warm Climate Fruit
A tropical fruit plant is one that will grow successfully between the tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Tropical climates are found in South-East Asia, much of India, northern Australia, Central America, the Caribbean, the Northern parts of South America, many of the Pacific islands and perhaps the central half of the African continent. Tropical areas in general have the highest average temperature levels, the longest frost-free growing seasons, and the greatest amount of light (intensity and duration), compared to other regions on the planet.
Subtropical fruits generally come from regions between about 23 degrees and 30 degrees south and north of the equator. These regions generally have lower average temperatures, shorter frost free growing seasons, and less light overall than tropical regions, but without the cold winters of the temperate zone. Subtropical climates are found in Australia (eg. South East Qld), Africa (eg. Northern South Africa), the USA (eg. parts of Florida, Louisiana, Southern California, Texas), etc.
Some plants will grow both in the tropics and sub tropics, and others will grow in the sub tropics and into milder temperate climates. Some plants can, if treated properly, be grown well into temperate zones.
Bananas for instance, grow both on the equator; and well into temperate areas. On protected sites, bananas have been known to produce fruit as far south as Melbourne in Australia. Citrus that are generally grown in frost free climates have been grown for centuries in Europe, as large containerised plants, left outside over the summer, but moved undercover into huge greenhouses in winter.
Warmer Climates can be both Good and Bad
  • Plants tend to grow faster, longer, and lusher in a tropical climate.
  • Pests and diseases also tend to grow bigger and faster, but if plants are relatively healthy, they are able to recover faster from these problems in a warm climate.
  • Humidity can be higher and more prolonged than in cool climates.
  • Winds and storms can be more forceful.
  • Soil can dry out faster.
  • Foliage can suffer sunburn more readily.
What do these things mean?
  • Often, plants need to be grown differently in the tropics than they are in the subtropics or a temperate climate as an indoor plant.
  • Generally (not always), the same plant grows bigger in the tropics than in the subtropics, and bigger in the subtropics than in temperate climates.
  • Drainage is very important in tropical areas to avoid roots being flooded in heavy rainfalls. Plants susceptible to damage from waterlogging might be better planted on mounds or slopes.
  • Plants need to be inspected for pests & diseases more often and action taken immediately. In a cool climate, you might wait for a few days or weeks to see whether insects develop into a serious problem, but in the tropics, they can develop from a minor to a serious problem over night.



How to Grow Avocados  

(Persea americana

Avocados are trees, 4.5 to 13.5 metres tall.   Flowering is normally winter or spring and fruiting 5 to 14 months later, during the wet season. They are native to Central America.

Avocados are suited to tropical and subtropical areas, but some varieties can be adapted to cooler climates. Mexican varieties will withstand lower temperatures. ("Bacon" withstands night temperatures to minus 5 degrees centigrade. "Hass" withstands to minus 1 centigrade). In frost areas it is necessary to provide protection overhead watering has proven most successful in reducing frost damage. Good drainage is required in high rainfall areas; irrigation required in low rainfall areas. Soil fertility is not critical, but a well drained soil structure is important. North and east slopes are the preferred aspects. Avoid exposed windy sites.

Avocados are normally grown by grafting selected varieties onto seed grown plants. Some varieties produce better crops if cross pollinated (ie: If you have two or more different varieties planted together).
Normally plant on mounds or ridges for drainage and to reduce root rot, windbreak plantings are commonly required and cover crops are often grown between trees. Commonly, trees are planted initially on a 10m x 5m grid. Eventually, every second tree is removed leaving a 10m x 10m grid. Smaller growing varieties may be spaced on a 7m x 4m grid.

Handle gently when planting; tease roots if pot bound, otherwise do not disturb at all. Apply fertilizer and mulch around the base of a newly planted tree. Keep the soil moist, but not saturated for the first few months. It may be necessary to water twice weekly. In some areas individual protection (eg: hessian around the tree) may be valuable to reduce the effect of wind and sun.

Trees should be fertilized regularly, but not too heavily as overfeeding makes trees more susceptible to root diseases. Nitrogen is critical too much, and flowering is reduced too little and leaf is reduced. It is often a problem to establish and maintain correct nitrogen levels. Nutrient deficiencies sometimes occur with zinc, boron, and iron.

Avocado trees should be pruned to develop and maintain an uneven canopy and keep trees from growing into each other. Proper pruning leads to increased productivity, better quality fruit and easier access to the tree when spraying and harvesting.



If you are serious about growing Tropical and Subtropical fruit commercially you need a solid background - both practical skills and theory. The underpinning knowledge covered in this course will help you to set up a profitable and viable orchard.

Our tutors are there to help you through your course - they are all professional horticulturists with years of industry experience. Our tutors are dedicated to facilitating your learning by supporting you on a one to one basis.

Learn from professionals!


Course Contributors

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

Marie Beerman

Marie has over 10 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of several ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants".
Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M.Hort. Dip. Bus. Cert. Lds

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

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