Misinformation is especially troublesome for tree crops, DeJong says, because mistakes you make today can have lasting effects.

“With annual crops, you can learn from your mistakes and start over fresh each year,” DeJong says. “Trees are long-lived, and there are carryover effects. What happens during this year’s crop will affect next year’s crop. That’s why it’s so important to understand the underpinnings of how trees grow.”

The course might seem pricey — $2,850 for the two weeks — but not when compared it to the cost of a university pomology education.


“To our knowledge, there is no comparable extension course in the United States that provides instruction by faculty researchers and Cooperative Extension specialists on the fundamentals of fruit and nut tree growth and development that underpin orchard management practices,” says DeJong. “Our goal is to provide access to practical, UC Davis pomology education in a shorter time frame, and reduced cost, than is currently available through traditional university classes.”

Participants will receive a certificate for taking the course. The first week will include lectures, hands-on exercises and field demonstrations in basic tree biology and orchard management practices.

During the second week, students and instructors will embark on a four-day tour in fruit- and nut-growing regions of Northern and Central California. The field tour includes stops at commercial nurseries, packinghouses, retail outlets, experimental plots and private orchards. Participants will see field demonstrations at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier and the Nickels Soil Laboratory in Arbuckle.

In addition to DeJong, instructors include Vito Polito, plant sciences at UC Davis; Kevin Day, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Tulare County; R. Scott Johnson, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the plant sciences department based at Kearney; and Carlos Crisosto, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the department who specializes in postharvest physiology.

Lecture topics include:

  • The basics of how trees work
  • Ideal climatic and soil conditions for tree fruit and nut crops
  • Dormancy, chill requirements and rest breaking
  • How trees grow and what determines architecture
  • Understanding cropping, pollination and fruit set
  • How trees use water and nutrients
  • Fruit growth and development
  • Harvest and harvest indices
  • Postharvest quality and technology

Hands-on exercises and field demonstrations include:

  • Bearing habits
  • Measuring fruit quality and fruit tasting
  • Pruning, training and light management
  • Root excavations
  • Budding and grafting
  • Measurement of plant water status and irrigation scheduling
  • Measurement of plant nutrient status and fertilization scheduling

Details and registration information are available at http://fruitandnuteducation.ucdavis.edu.

For more information, contact Brooke Jacobs at (530) 754-9708 or fruitandnuteducation@ucdavis.edu.