Course:APBI490/Section 002

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Sustainable Fruit Production: Theory & Applications
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APBI 490
Section: 002
Instructor: Dr. David McArthur
Email: david.mcarthur@ubc.ca
Office: TBA
Office Hours: TBA
Class Schedule: lecture 3x/week & lab
Classroom: TBA
Important Course Pages
Syllabus
Lecture Notes
Assignments
Course Discussion

Course Description

APBI490 "Sustainable Fruit Production: Theory & Applications" provides an integrative overview of core production methodologies utilized in fruit crop production with a focus on the main crops: apples, cherries, wine-grapes, blueberries, and cranberries. Although conventional approaches will be discussed, an agroecological systems approach will be introduced in the context of main fruit production systems in order to assist students in developing a theoretical and practical approach to more ecological and economically sustainable fruit production. Fruit industry regulations and current trends in fruit production will be covered.

Course Overview

In BC, total farm income in nearly equally split between land livestock animals and plant production. Horticulture dominates the plant systems, with fruit crops being a prominent part of BC horticulture. BC leads Canada in fruit production and sales. In 2010, total farm-gate sales for fruit crops in BC were $274 million. Most fruit crops in BC are grown as monocultures and as a result, human inputs are relatively high while biodiversity is low. Disease pressure on strawberries has been especially strong, but all fruit crops have/are facing difficulties with insect-pest and disease pressures - most having relied to some extent on the development of chemical controls to maintain productivity. Various apple producers in the interior and some berry growers in the Fraser Valley stand out in terms of the potential leadership role they take in regards to adoption of sustainable practices and an agroecosystems approach to farming.
APBI 490 will provide an integrative overview of core production methodologies utilized for fruit crop production with a focus on the main crops: apple, cherries, wine-grapes, blueberries, and cranberries, with minor coverage of other fruit crops. Topics include the rational matching of suitable fruit varieties to eco-sites/farmland, propagation and growing of fruit crops, major pest/disease management issues, and harvest/storage technologies. Both major strengths and weakness in the current mainstream approaches will be considered; however, for each main crop, there will be some emphasis on approaches that do or could make each fruit-cropping system more ecologically and economically sustainable.

Course Structure and Operation

APBI 490 is designed as a 3-credit course with a 50-minute class three times a week and a three hour lab once a week. Labs will include field trips to local berry farms, vineyards, and orchards to illustrate each system. Some greenhouse labs will be included to demonstrate various aspects of canopy morphology and management, propagation, and fruit qualities (including post-harvest). Pre-requisites: minimum 3rd year standing. Contact: David McArthur david.mcarthur@ubc.ca, 604-209-5243.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. Be familiar with key botanical and growth characteristics of major temperate-zone fruit crops and relate growth and development typical in their native ecosystems to that in managed agroecosystems.
  2. Be able to assess crop growth for both productive and problem traits, consider conventional approaches to problem traits, and from an agroecological perspective recommend modifications to problem-solve.
  3. Be able to describe key components in the setup and management of conventional fruit production systems and compare these systems designed with an agroecological, systems approach.
  4. Be able to discuss the interrelationships between agriculture systems and associated ecosystems and the impact of these on each other (considers insect/animal pests and diseases).
  5. Understand major attributes of the harvested fruit crop and differences between species/variety in terms of their post-harvest physiology, and relate these to post-harvest storage behaviour and storage issues for each major fruit crop discussed.
  6. Identify major ecological and economic factors affecting the sustainability of select fruit crop and wine-grape systems and provide recommendations for improving sustainability.

Course Evaluation

Activity Percentage of Grade
Lab Assignments/Field Reports 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40%

Lab Assignments (30%): Lab activities and assignments will focus initially on fruit crop morphology and development. Field trips will allow students to map out the setup of available fruit crop systems and how they are basically managed. Students will be required to evaluate the orchards/vineyards/plantings for key indicators of sustainability. Follow-up assignments will require students to incorporate agroecological and sustainability principles in their recommendations for improving the sustainability of each different fruit-crop system visited.

Midterm Exam (30%): The midterm will be composed of short answer and paragraph questions on materials covered in lectures and laboratories/field trips.

Final Exam (40%): The final examination will be based primarily on an integration of material covered after the midterm. The final exam will be composed of short answer, paragraph and short essay questions on materials covered in lectures and laboratories.

Primary Literature

Textbook search/selection in progress; however, the following has been used for development of core topics:

  1. Alteri M.A., Nicholls C.I., Wilson H., Miles A. (2010). Habitat Management in Vineyards: A Growers Manual for Enhancing Natural Enemies of Pests. UC Berkeley.
  2. BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. (2010). Berry Production Guide: Beneficial Management Practices for Berry Growers in BC. pp:278.
  3. BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. (2010). Best Practices Guide for Grapes for BC Growers, 2010. pp:200.
  4. BC Wine Grape Council. (2011). BC Sustainable Winegrowing Program: Sustainable Practices for BC Wineries. pp:201.
  5. BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. (2010). Integrated Fruit Production Guide for Commercial Tree Fruit Growers Interior of BC, 2010. pp:204.
  6. BCMAL Planning for Profit websites: eg. http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/busmgmt/budgets/berries.htm or http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/busmgmt/budgets/tree_fruits.htm.
  7. Caruso FL, Ramsdell DC. (1995). Compendium of Blueberry and Cranberry Diseases. APS Press, St. Paul Minn. pp:87.
  8. Edwards, L. (1998). Organic Tree Fruit Management. Certified Organic Associations of BC, Keremeos, BC. pp:240.
  9. Galletta GJ, Himelrick DG. (1990). Small Fruit Crop Management. Prentice-Hall Inc. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. pp:602.
  10. Gliessman, S.R. (2007). Agroecology: The ecology of sustainable food systems 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press. pp:383.
  11. Jackson, R.S. (2000). Wine Science Principles, Practices, Perception, 2nd Ed. Academic Press, NY. pp:652.
  12. Jones, A.L., and Aldwincle H.S. (1990). Compendium of Apple and Pear Diseases, APS Press. St Paul Minn. pp:100.
  13. Okanagan Valley Tree Fruit Authority. (1996). Horticultural Management for Slender Spindle and Super Spindle Orchards. Summerland, BC. pp:66.
  14. Pearson R.C., and Goheen A.C. (1998). Compendium of Grape Diseases. APS Press, St. Paul Minn. pp:93.
  15. Poincelot, R.P. (2004). Sustainable Horticulture: Today and Tomorrow. Pearson Ed Inc. Saddle River, NJ.
  16. Shawa AY, Shanks CH, Bristow PR, Shearer MN, Poole AP. (1984). Cranberry Production in the Pacific Northwest. PNW 247. pp:50.
  17. Speight MR, Hunder MD, Watt AD. (2008). Ecology of Insects. Wiley-Blackwell/John Wiley & Sons Ltd. West Sussex, UK.
  18. Westwood, M.N. (1993). Temperate Zone Pomology: Physiology and Culture, 3rd Edition. Timber Press, Portland. pp:523.

Course Lecture & Lab Schedule

Week 1: Course Introduction & Topics/Learning Objectives

  • Overview of course requirements, learning objectives, schedule (lectures & fieldtrips)
  • Overview of global production of major temperate zone fruit crop species with highlights of fruit crops/wine-grapes grown in BC
  • A starting discussion: an example of a commercial fruit production system - pros and cons; ecological and economic considerations. Are there alternate model systems that potentially offer greater sustainability?

Week 2-4: Small Fruits

  • Blueberry (highbush)
    • Botanical characteristics: anatomy, growth habit, ecology
    • Main cultural systems including propagation, post-harvest issues and IPM backgrounder
    • Sustainability issues (organic approaches); pros and cons; ecological and economic considerations
  • Cranberry
    • Botanical characteristics: anatomy, growth habit, ecology
    • Main cultural systems including propagation, post-harvest issues and IPM backgrounder
    • Sustainability issues (organic approaches); pros and cons; ecological and economic considerations
  • Brief overview and discussion of other small fruit crops in BC: strawberries, raspberries

Week 5: Agroecology Issues in Small Fruit Production

  • Summary discussion of small fruit models and Reading Assignments
  • Should small fruit production come from monoculture, polyculture, permaculture? Companion-planting and cover-cropping. Organic or IPM? What agroecosystem model functions most sustainably? Future directions?

Week 6-8: Wine-grapes

  • MIDTERM
  • Botanical characteristics: anatomy, growth habit, ecology
  • Main cultural systems including propagation, IPM background (organic and biodynamic)
  • Post-harvest issues including and relating to winemaking processes
  • The BC Wine Authority, BC Wine Institute, and the "Wines of Marked Quality (VQA)" program
  • Looking for sustainability; models - pros and cons; ecological and economic considerations

Week 9: Agroecology Issues in Wine-grapes

  • Summary discussion of wine-grape and Reading Assignment
  • Should wine-grape production come from monoculture, polyculture, permaculture? Companion-planting and cover-cropping. Comparing independent wine-graper growers versus estate wineries. Organic or IPM? What agroecoystem/business model functions most sustainably? Future directions?

Week 10-12: Tree Fruits

  • Apples
    • Botanical characteristics: anatomy, growth habit, ecology
    • Main cultural systems including propagation, post-harvest issues and IPM backgrounder
    • Looking for sustainability (organic approaches); models - pros and cons; ecological and economic considerations
  • Sweet Cherries; Reading Assignment
    • Botanical characteristics: anatomy, growth habit, ecology
    • Cultural systems including post-harvest issues and IPM backgrounder
    • Looking for sustainability (organic approaches); models - pros and cons; ecological and economic considerations
  • Overview of other tree fruit crops in BC: peaches, pears

Week 13: Agroecology Issues of Tree Fruits

  • Summary of tree fruits and Reading Assignment
  • Should tree fruits production come from monoculture, polyculture, permaculture? Companion-planting and cover-cropping. Organic or IPM? What agroecosystem/business model functions most sustainably? Future directions?

Lab Reading Assignment Examples

Chapters in:

  1. BC Tree Fruit Production Guide
  2. BC Berry Production Guides
  3. BC WIne-grape Production Guides

Proposed Labs:

  • Field trip to UBC Botanical Gardens Food Garden and UBC Farm mixed orchard
  • Identification of common pests and diseases of berry crops, wine-grapes, and tree fruit crops
  • Field trip to mixed berry farm (Richmond/Pitt Meadows)
  • Field trip to cranberry fields during harvest; possible tour of OceanSpray washing/receiving station (RIchmond)
  • Field trip to vineyards and winery (Langley, BC)
  • Evaluation of current results of fruit breeding program PARC Agassiz and Summerland (PICO)
  • Canopy management of fruit crops (pruning and training)