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Commercial Vegetable Production

Course CodeBHT222
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


Get Serious about Vegetable Production

Develop skills and knowledge required for commercial vegetable production. Learn different production methods; and culture of all major types of vegetables.

Who should do this course:

  • Vegetable growers, farm managers, farm workers
  • Vegetable enthusiasts, breeders, nurserymen, seedsmen
  • Suppliers of services and materials to the vegetable industry
  • Anyone involved otherwise in the vegetable industry from marketing to processing.

This is a comprehensive 100 hour foundation course in general vegetable production. Note: Learn:

  • Growing Tomato Plants
  • Cucumber Plant Growing
  • Growing Rhubarb
  • Growing all Types of Vegetables 

 

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Vegetable Growing
    • Making the farm Pay
    • Understanding economoc principles -supply and demand, scale of economy, etc.
    • Planning for the farm
    • Production planning
    • Financial planning and management
    • Land care and land management
    • Marketing
    • Personal welfare
    • Risk management -spreading risk, quality management, contingency planning, liquidity
    • Creating a sustainable farm enterprise
    • Planning for sustainability
    • Planning for drought
    • Crop selection
    • Monocultures
    • Alterenating crops, broad acre or row crops
    • Growing Brassicas -Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Pak Choi, Broccoli, Radish, Turnip
    • Growing Legumes -Beans, Broad Beans, Peas
    • Growing Lettuce, Onions, Potatoes
  2. Cultural Practices for Vegetables
    • Explain general cultural practices used for vegetable production.
    • Crop rotation
    • Soils
    • Plant foods
    • Cover Crops
    • Legumes and innoculation
    • Growing various cover crops -Barley, Buckwheat, Canola, Lucerne, Field pea, Lupins, Oats, Sorgham, Clover, etc.
    • Ways of using a cover crop
    • Cultivation techniques
    • Compost
    • Crop Scheduling
    • Planting Vegetables -seed, hybrid seed, storing seed, sowing seed
    • Understanding Soils
    • Dealing with Soil Problems
    • Plant nutrition and feeding
  3. Pest, Disease & Weed Control
    • Weed control -hand weeding, mechanical, chemical and biological weed control methods
    • Integrated Pest Management
    • Non chemical pest control
    • Understanding Pesticide lables
    • Understanding the law in relation to agricultural chemicals
    • Plant Pathology introduction
    • Understanding Fungi
    • Understanding insects, virus and other pathogens
    • Insect control -quarantine, clean far5ming, chemicals, biological controls
    • Review of common diseases
    • Review common pests
    • Review common environmental problems
    • Review common weeds
  4. Hydroponic and Greenhouse Growing
    • Introduction to hydroponics
    • Types of systems
    • Nutrient solutions
    • NFT and other systems for vegetable production
    • Growing in a greenhouse (in the ground or hydroponics)
    • Components of a Greenhouse System
    • Types of Greenhouses and common greenhouse designs (venlo, mansard, wide span, multi span, poly tunnel, Sawtooth, Retractable roof, etc)
    • Shade houses, Cold Frames
    • Environmental Control -heating, ventilation, lighting, etc
    • Controlling moisture (misting, fog, etc)
    • Review of various vegetables -Cucurbits (Cucumber, Melon, Pumpkin, Watermelon, Zucchini)
  5. Growing Selected Vegetable Varieties
    • Determine specific cultural practices for selected vegetable varieties.
    • Tropical Vegetables - Sweet Potato and Taro
    • Less common vegetables - Globe Artichoke, Jerusalem Artichoke, Asparagus, Chicory, Endive, Garlic, Leek, Okra, Rhubarb
    • Other Crops -Beetroot (Red Beet), Capsicum, Carrot, Celery, Sweet Corn, Eggplant, Parsnip, Spinach
  6. Irrigation
    • Water and Irrigation
    • Infiltration
    • Internal Drainage
    • Flood, Sprinkler and Trickle irrigation
    • The objective of irrigation
    • Transpiration and Wilting Point
    • When to irrigate Timing irrigations
    • Detecting water deficiency or excess
    • Understanding soil moisture
    • Pumps, sprinklers and other equipment
    • Water hammer
    • Improving Drainage
    • Managing erosion
  7. Harvest & Post-Harvest
    • Introduction to harvesting
    • Post harvest treatment of vegetables
    • Cooling harvested produce
    • Harvesting tips
    • Storing vegetables
  8. Marketing Vegetables
    • Introduction
    • Standards for cost efficiency, quality and quantity
    • Options for Marketing Produce
    • Market Research
    • How to sell successfully

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Select appropriate vegetable varieties for different situations.
  • Explain general cultural practices used for vegetable production.
  • Explain the management of potential problems, including pests, diseases, weeds, and environmental disorders, in vegetable production.
  • Explain alternative cultural techniques, including greenhouse and hydroponic production, for vegetables.
  • Determine specific cultural practices for selected vegetable varieties.
  • Determine the harvesting, and post-harvest treatment of different vegetables.
  • Develop marketing strategies for different vegetables.

What You Will Do

  • Compile a resource file of sources of information regarding vegetable varieties.
  • Describe the classification of different vegetables into major groups.
  • Prepare a collection of plant reviews of different vegetable varieties.
  • Determine three appropriate cultivars from each of different species of vegetables to be grown on a specified site.
  • Prepare a planting schedule of vegetable varieties, to be planted over a twelve month period, in your locality.
  • Differentiate between soil management practices for different vegetable varieties.
  • Explain the establishment of vegetables by seed.
  • Explain how to establish three different vegetables from seedlings.
  • Prepare a table or chart showing the planting distances, and planting depth of seed for different vegetable varieties.
  • Describe the application of pruning techniques to the production of specified vegetables.
  • Prepare a crop schedule (ie. production timetable) for a specified vegetable crop.
  • Prepare a pressed weed collection of different weeds.
  • Differentiate between different specific techniques for weed control in vegetable crops, including different chemical and different non-chemical methods.
  • Determine pest and disease problems common to different specified types of vegetables.
  • Identify appropriate control methods for the pest and disease problems you determined (above).
  • Develop pest and disease control programs, for the lifespans of different vegetables.
  • Determine the environmental disorders occurring with vegetable crops inspected by you.
  • Explain the methods that can be used to prevent and/or overcome different environmental disorders affecting vegetables.
  • Determine the potential benefits of greenhouse vegetable production in a specified locality.
  • Differentiate between the characteristics of different types of greenhouses.
  • Compare vegetable growing applications for different environmental control mechanisms used in greenhouses, including:
    • Different types of heaters
    • Shading
    • Lighting
    • Different types of coolers
    • Vents
    • Fans
  • Describe how a specified commercial vegetable crop might be grown in a greenhouse visited by you.
  • Compare vegetable growing applications for the major types of hydroponic systems:
    • Open and closed systems
    • Aggregate
    • Water
    • Aeroponic culture
  • Determine reasons for choosing to grow vegetables in hydroponics rather than in the open ground.
  • Explain how a specified vegetable can be grown in an hydroponic system.
  • Determine two commercially viable varieties suited to growing in a specified locality, from each of the following different types of vegetables:
    • Brassicas
    • Cucurbits
    • Tomatoes
    • Lettuce
    • Onions
    • Potatoes
    • Legumes
  • Determine specific cultural requirements for growing each of the vegetable varieties selected (above) on a specified site.
  • Describe the culture of less commonly grown vegetables chosen by you.
  • Produce a log book, recording all work undertaken to grow a crop of different vegetable varieties, suited to your locality.
  • Describe different harvesting methods, including both manual and mechanical techniques, used in vegetable production, for specified vegetables.
  • Identify the appropriate stage of growth at which different types of vegetables should be harvested.
  • Evaluate commonly used harvesting techniques of vegetables.
  • Evaluate commonly used post-harvest treatments of vegetables.
  • Determine post-harvest treatments to slow the deterioration of different specified vegetables.
  • Develop guidelines for post harvest handling, during storage, transportation and marketing, of a specified vegetable variety.
  • Analyse vegetable marketing systems in your locality.
  • Explain the importance of produce standards to marketing in different vegetable marketing systems.
  • Explain the impact of quarantine regulations on transport of different types of vegetables, in your locality.
  • Explain an appropriate procedure for packaging a specified vegetable for long distance transport.
  • Develop marketing strategies for different specified vegetables.

Extract from Course Notes:

TRANSPLANTING SEEDLINGS

 

This involves the movement of seedlings grown elsewhere to their permanent cropping position. Seedlings are obtained from a variety of sources including those that you may raise in special seedling beds, those grown from seed into containers and those left over from thinning out of other sections of the vegetable patch (suitable for some vegetables but not all).

 

Large quantities of vegetable seedlings are grown commercially in punnets (usually small plastic rectangular containers) to supply commercial and domestic vegetable growers.

 

Both the seedlings to be moved and the site to which they are being moved should be well watered the day before transplanting is to occur. For container growing plants (i.e.: punnets) may need watering up to an hour or two before transplanting commences to maintain sufficient moisture in the root zone.

 

The watering helps reduce the shock to the plant of the transplanting procedure, in particular by helping to keep soil or seedling mix bound together around the roots of the seedling. If the soil etc is dry it generally crumbles away from the root ball readily during transplanting. This exposes the roots to the atmosphere where they are more likely to dry out causing damage to the plant than if some soil remains around the plant roots.

 

Seedlings should be gently lifted out of the bed or container in which they are being grown, taking care to maintain as much soil around the roots as possible. A hole is then made in the bed with a sharp stick or dibber and the seedling planted into the hole, making sure that the seedling is at the same depth as it was in the seed bed or container.

Soil is firmed around the plant to hold it in position and the plant is then well watered.

 

BUYING SEEDLINGS

When selecting seedlings for purchase you should always consider the following points:

1. Choose only plants with a healthy appearance. Seedlings should have no obvious discolouring, stunted growth, signs of damage etc.

2. Reject any seedlings with obvious signs of pest or disease damage.

3. Do not choose seedlings that appear crowded in their container, or have extensive root growth protruding from the seedling container. These seedlings will often not transplant as readily as smaller ones that are not pot bound.

4. Be wary of very small seedlings that appear very soft. These may have recently come out of a protected seedling raising area such as a greenhouse and have had insufficient time to 'harden up' before being offered for sale.

 

 

TRANSPLANTING CROWNS, OFFSETS, TUBERS ETC

 

Some vegetables, particularly perennial types are often available as crowns, offsets of established plants, tubers etc. Examples include asparagus, globe artichoke, rhubarb and potatoes. These are also discussed individually in the directory of crops section.

 

RUNNERS

A runner is a special type of stem which grows horizontally along the ground forming new plants at its nodes.  Strawberries grow easily from runners, but due to the high incidence of virus diseases in strawberries in many countries, gardeners and growers alike are often advised to not propagate their own plants. Virus free strawberry plants are sometimes propagated in areas isolated from this disease, under government Department of Agriculture supervision.

 

Rooted daughter plants can be dug up whenever they have formed sufficient roots.

 

OFFSET

This is a special type of branch which develops from the base of the main stem of certain plants.  Usually this is a shortened thickened stem.  Many bulbs reproduce this way producing offset bulblets at their base.  The date palm and the pineapple are just two other plants which produce offsets.  Lateral shoots from rhizomes (as with banana and orchids) are also called offsets.

 

The offset is removed by cutting close to the main stem with a sharp knife.  As many roots as possible should be removed at the same time.  It might be necessary to also cut back the top of the plant to balance the amount of top growth with root growth.

 

D. CROWNS

The crown of a plant is the part of a plant at the surface of the ground from which new growth arises.  In some plants the crown is like a large ball or swelling; below it are roots and from it several shoots grow upwards.  The crown is cut with a sharp blade so that each section has least one of the shoots or stems plus some of the roots.

 

Many herbaceous perennials as well as some woody shrubs and some indoor/tropical plants can be grown by crown division.  Plants also grown this way include Asparagus

 

SPECIALIZED STEMS AND ROOTS

Several plants have specialized vegetative structures that tend to serve two purposes:

 

a) Organs of food storage

b) Organs of vegetative reproduction

 

These structures include: 

Bulbs, Corms, Rhizomes, Tubers, Tuberous Roots, and Pseudobulbs.

 

Propagation involves simply detaching one or part of these structures from the parent plant.  This method of propagation is called 'separation' and/or 'division'.

 

These different structures can be distinguished as follows:

 

Bulbs: consist of a basal plate adventitious roots attached below and scales attached above encompassing a number of growth buds (eg. onion, daffodil, lilium).

 

Corms: do not have scales (they are solid right through).

Corms are solid shortened stems with several buds over their surface (eg. gladiolus).

 

Tuber: consist of a swollen stem structure which develops below the surface of the ground (eg. Potato and Caladium).

 

Rhizome: is a special type of stem which grows just below ground level.

Leaves arise from the stem breaking the soil and the rhizome is covered with both buds and roots (eg. Iris).

 

Tuberous Root: Differ from true tuber in that buds are only present at the crown (eg. Dahlia, Tuberous Begonia, etc).

 

Pseudobulb: large fleshy section of stem occurring on some types of orchids (eg. Dendrobium, Cattleya, Cymbidium, etc).

 

BULBS BY OFFSETS

Many types of bulbs are very easy to propagate by simply removing naturally produced bulblets from the mother bulb. These include chives, shallots as well as the Tulip, Daffodil, Bulbous Iris, Grape Hyacinth,

 

SOME USEFUL SUGGESTIONS ON PLANTING

1. Grow perennials together in one section or in separate beds where they won't be disturbed by the necessary preparations for the planting and cultivation of shorter lived crops.

2. Plant tall crops where they won't shade out other crops.

3. Plant crops in long rows rather than in clumps or short rows. This makes cultivation easier, particularly if you are going to use rotary hoes etc.

4. Crops that mature around the same time should be planted together so that an entire section of a bed becomes available for preparation for the next crop rather than patches here and there.


SOWING AND TRANSPLANTING GUIDE (2.5cm = 1inch)

 

 

Crop

Spacings

Average(cm)

Depth (cm)

Weeks

to maturity

Remarks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broccoli

50 X 70

1.5

10‑16

Seed or seedlings. Thin later

 

 

 

 

 

Brussels sprouts

"

1.5

18‑25

Seed or seedlings. Thin later

 

 

 

 

 

Beetroot

"

2.0

9‑12

Seed

 

 

 

 

 

Silverbeet

"

2.0

8‑12

Seed

 

 

 

 

 

Cabbage

"

1.5

8‑16

Seed or seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Capsicum

45 X 70

1.0

12‑16

Seed or  seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Carrots

5 X 60

1.5

10‑20

Seed

                           

 

 

 

 

Cauliflowers

40 X 70

1.5

12‑26

Seed or seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Celery

40 X 70

1.5

10‑16

Seed or seedlings. Thin later

 

 

 

 

 

Chicory

18 X 75

2.0

10‑16

Seed or seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumbers

25 x 140

2.0

9 ‑14

Seed

                     

 

 

 

 

Egg plants

60 X 80

1.0

14‑ 18

Seed or seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Kohl rabi

20 X 80

1.0

10‑12

Seed thin later

 

 

 

 

 

Leek

10 X 40

2.0

20‑24

Seed

 

 

 

 

 

Lettuce

30 X 90

1.0

9‑12

Seed or seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Onions

10 X 40

2.0

24‑40

Seed or seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Parsnips

10 x 80

1.5

18‑25

Seed

 

 

 

 

 

Potatoes

25 X 90

8‑12

12‑20

Sprouting tubers   

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkins

50 X 1.5

3.0

14‑22

Seed or seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Radish

2 X 30

1.5

4‑5

Seed

 

 

 

 

 

Spinach

10 x 40

2.0

7‑10

Seed or seedlings

 

 

 

 

 

Turnip

10 X 40

1.0

14‑16

Seed

 

 

 

 

 

Tomatoes

40 X 100

1.5

12‑16

Seed or seedlings

 

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 Do not undertake Commercial Organic Vegetable Growing as well as this. The two courses do overlap).