Background (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
The ability to produce crops, particularly those crops associated with food and fiber, is a major economic and natural resource. Horticulture, a multibillion-dollar-per-year industry, is a multidisciplinary science that encompasses all aspects of production, for fun or profit, of intensively cultivated plants to be utilized by humans for food, medicinal purposes, or aesthetic satisfaction. Crop production is largely determined by a variety of environmental conditions, including soil, water, light, temperature, and atmosphere. Therefore, horticulture science is primarily concerned with the study of how to manipulate the plants or these environmental factors to achieve maximum yield. Since there is tremendous diversity in horticultural plants, the field is subdivided into pomology, the growth and production of fruit crops; olericulture, the growth and production of vegetable crops; landscape horticulture, the growth and production of trees and shrubs; and floriculture, the growth and production of flower and foliage plants. Each of these subdivisions is based on a fundamental knowledge of plant-soil interactions, soil science, plant physiology, and plant morphology.
(The entire section is 165 words.)
Propagation (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Horticulture science is concerned with all aspects of crop production, from the collection and germination of seed to the final marketing of the products. Plant propagation, protection, and harvesting are three areas of particular interest to horticulturists. Generally, propagation from seed is the most common and least expensive way of propagating plants. In order to prevent cross-pollination from undesirable varieties, plants to be used for seed production are grown in genetic isolation from other, similar plants. At maturity, the seed is collected and is usually stored at low temperatures and under 50 to 65 percent relative humidity to maintain full viability. The seed is often tested for viability prior to planting to determine the percentage of seed that should germinate. At the appropriate time, the seed is usually treated with a fungicide to ensure an adequate crop stand and planted under proper temperature, water, and light conditions. For most crops, the seed is germinated in small containers, and the seedlings are then transplanted to the field or greenhouse.
For many horticultural crops it is not feasible to produce plants from seed. For some, the growth from seed may require too much time to be economically practical. In other cases, the parent plants may produce too little or no viable seed, and in still others, there may be a desire to avoid hybridization in order to maintain a pure strain. For some plants, almost...
(The entire section is 406 words.)
Pest Control (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Since plants are besieged by a panoply of biological agents that utilize plant tissues as a food source, plant protection from pests is a major concern in the horticulture industry. Microbial organisms, nematodes, insects, and weeds are the major plant pests. Weeds are defined as unwanted plants and are considered to be pests because they compete with crop plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients. If left unchecked, weeds will drastically reduce crop yields because they tend to produce a large amount of seed and grow rapidly. Weed control is generally accomplished either by removing the weed physically or by use of a variety of herbicides that have been developed to chemically control weeds. Herbicides are selected on the basis of their ability to control weeds and, at the same time, cause little or no damage to the desired plant.
Plant protection from microbes, nematodes, and insects generally involves either preventing or restricting pest invasion of the plant, developing plant varieties that will resist or at least tolerate the invasion, or a combination of both methods. The application of chemicals, utilization of biological agents, isolation of an infected crop by quarantine, and cultural practices that routinely remove infected plants or plant tissues are examples of the different types of control methods. A large number of different bactericides, fungicides, nematocides, and insecticides have been developed in recent...
(The entire section is 325 words.)
Harvest (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
A crop must be harvested once it has grown to maturity. Harvesting is one of the most expensive aspects of crop production because it is usually extremely labor intensive. For almost all crops, there is a narrow window between the time the plants are ready to harvest and the time when the plants are too ripe to be of economic value. Hence, the process requires considerable planning to ensure that the appropriate equipment and an adequate labor supply are available when the crop is ready to be harvested. Predicting the harvest date is of paramount importance in the planning process. The length of the harvest window, the length of the growing season that is necessary for a given plant to mature under normal environmental conditions at a given geographic location, and the influence of unexpected weather changes on the growing season all have to be considered in the planning process. Since nature is unpredictable, even the best planning schedules sometimes have to be readjusted in midseason.
Some crops are picked from the plant by hand and then mechanically conveyed from the field, while other crops are harvested entirely by hand. New mechanical harvesting equipment is continually being developed by agricultural engineers, and crops that lend themselves to mechanical harvesting are growing in importance as the manual labor force continues to shrink. After harvest, most crops are generally stored for varying lengths of time, from a few...
(The entire section is 297 words.)
Future of the Resource (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
In order for horticulture to remain a viable resource in the future, advances in horticulture technology have to continue to keep pace with the needs of an ever-increasing population. However, horticulturists also have to be mindful of the fragile nature of the environment. New technologies must be developed with the environment in mind, and much of this new technology will center on advances in genetic engineering. New crop varieties that will both provide higher yields and reduce the dependency on chemical pesticides by exhibiting greater resistance to a variety of pests will have to be developed. The future development of higher-yielding crops that can be harvested mechanically and the production of new types of equipment to facilitate the harvesting process will also be important improvements in the horticulture industry.
(The entire section is 129 words.)
Further Reading (Encyclopedia of Global Resources)
Acquaah, George. Horticulture: Principles and Practices. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.
Adams, C. R., K. M. Bamford, and M. P. Early. Principles of Horticulture. 5th ed. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008.
Bailey, L. H. The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. 2d ed. 3 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1963.
Hartmann, Hudson T., et al. Hartmann and Kester’s Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2002.
Janick, Jules. Horticultural Science. 4th ed. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1986.
Reiley, H. Edward, and Carroll L. Shry, Jr. Introductory Horticulture. 7th ed. Clifton Park, N.Y.: Thomson Delmar Learning, 2007.
Rice, Laura Williams, and Robert P. Rice, Jr. Practical Horticulture. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006.
Ward, Janet D., and Larry T. Ward. Principles of Food Science. Tinley Park, Ill.: Goodheart-Willcox, 2002.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Horticulture. http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1204824463519&lang=eng
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Horticulture. http://www.csrees.usda.gov/horticulture.cfm
(The entire section is 165 words.)
Horticulture (Encyclopedia of Science)
Horticulture is the science and art of growing and caring for plants, especially flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Whereas agronomy (a branch of agriculture) refers to the growing of field crops, horticulture refers to small-scale gardening. The word horticulture comes from Latin and means "garden cultivation."
Within the field of horticulture, seed growers, plant growers, and nurseries are the major suppliers of plant products. Among the important specialists who work in the field of horticulture are plant physiologists, who work on the nutritional needs of plants, and plant entomologists, who work to protect plants from insect damage.
Horticulturists are often involved in the landscaping and maintenance of public gardens, parks, golf courses, and ball fields. For the amateur home gardener, the rewards
are both recreational and emotional. Gardening is one of the most popular pastimes for peopleot only for those living in suburbs, but for city dwellers who plant window boxes, grow house plants, or develop a garden in an empty city lot.
(The entire section is 173 words.)
Horticulture (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)
HORTICULTURE. Horticulture, literally garden culture, is a part of crop agriculture that also includes agronomy and forestry. By tradition, horticulture deals with garden crops such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, beverage crops, and medicinals, as well as ornamental plants. Agronomy is involved with grains, pasture grasses and forages, oilseeds, fiber crops, and industrial crops such as sugarcane, while forestry is involved with trees grown for timber and fiber as well as the incidental wildlife. The edible horticultural crops are used entirely as human food and are often utilized in the living state and thus highly perishable. In contrast, edible agronomic crops are often utilized in the nonliving state, are highly processed, are often used for animal feed, and usually contain a high percentage of dry matter. The precise distinction between horticultural and agronomic crops is traditional. In general, horticultural crops are intensively cultivated and warrant a large input of capital, labor, and technology per unit area of land, but in modern agriculture, horticultural crops may be extensively grown while many agronomic crops are now intensively cultivated. Many crops are claimed by more than one discipline. Horticulture is practiced in large agricultural operations, in small farm enterprises, and in home gardens.
Horticulture is associated with a number of intensive practices that collectively make up the horticultural arts. These include various propagation techniques incorporating special plant structures such as bulbs, corms, or runners; the use of layers or cuttings; budding and grafting; and micropropagation involving tissue culture. Cultural practices include soil preparation, direct planting or transplanting; fertilization; weed, disease, and pest control; training and pruning; the use of controlled environments such as greenhouses or plastic tunnels; applications of chemical growth regulators; various harvest and handling methods; and various postharvest treatments to extend shelf life. Other practices associated with horticulture are breeding and genetic techniques for crop improvement, marketing methods, and food processing. Ornamental horticulture, not considered here, includes added practices associated with landscape architecture and the floral arts. While horticulture is an ancient art with many of its practices empirically derived, present-day horticultural arts are intimately associated with science, so that modern horticultural science is one of the most advanced parts of agriculture. Recently some horticultural growers have attempted to reduce or even eliminate reliance on inorganic fertilizers and pesticides through the incorporation of ecologically based practices (integrated crop management).
Horticultural Food Crops
Horticultural food crops include an enormous array of species that are grouped in various ways.
Fruits. Fruits of woody perennial plants have long been prized for sources of refreshment, for their delightful flavors and aromas, and as nourishing foods. Fruit crops can be defined as temperate, subtropical, and tropical depending on their temperature requirements. Temperate fruits are deciduous (drop their leaves in the cold period) and undergo dormancy requiring a certain amount of low temperatures (chilling period) before growth is resumed in the spring. Subtropical fruits require a very short chilling period. Tropical fruits are usually evergreen and are extremely cold-sensitive. Within these groupings fruit crops are usually grouped by taxonomic affinity. The temperate fruits include the pome fruits (apple, pear, quince, medlar), stone fruits (apricot, cherry, peach and its smooth-skin variant the nectarine, and plum), vine fruits (grape and kiwifruit), and small or bush fruits (strawberry; blueberry, cranberry, and lingonberry; brambles such as blackberry, raspberry, and various hybrids; currants and gooseberries). The subtropical fruits include citrus (citron, grapefruit, the tropical pomelo, sweet orange, lemon, lime, mandarins, and various hybrids such as the tangor or tangelo); and fruits associated with Mediterranean climates (avocado, cactus pear, carob, fig, loquat, persimmon, pomegranate). There are hundreds of tropical fruits, of which the most important are banana and plantain, mango, papaya, and pineapple, but there are hundreds of others with regional interest, including acerola, akee, carambola, cherimoya, durian, guava, litchi, mangosteen, passion fruit, rambutan, sapodilla, and soursop.
Nuts. The important tree nuts that enter into international trade include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, macadamias, pistachios, pecans and hickories, and walnuts.
Beverage crops. Beverage crops include the subtropical cropsoffee, tea, and maténd the tropical cacao used for cocoa and the confection chocolate.
Vegetables. Vegetables are typically herbaceous (softstemmed) plants in which various parts are used as food, including roots, tubers, leaves, fruit, or seed. There are various groupings based on the part consumed and taxonomic affinity. Vegetables include the root crops (beet, carrot, cassava, celeriac, dasheen, horseradish, parsnip, potato, salsify, turnip, radish, rutabaga, and sweet potato, as well as some little-known Andean tubers such as oca, mashua or anu, and ulluco, and root crops such as arracacha, maca, and yacon); bulb or corm crops including the pungent alliums (chive, garlic, leek, onion, shallots, and chive); salad or leafy crops (arugula or rocket, celery, chicory, cress, endive, lettuce, parsley); cole crops or crucifers (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, and various Asian types such as bok choy); potherbs or greens (chard, collards, dandelion, celeriac, kale, mustard, orach, spinach, New Zealand spinach); solanaceous fruits (eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, tomato and husk tomato), cucurbits, also known as melon or vine crops (chayote, cucumber, muskmelon, pumpkin, squash, watermelon); legumes or pulse crops in which the seed is consumed (adzuki bean, broad bean, chickpea, common bean, cowpea, lima bean, mung bean, rice beans, tepary bean, urdbean, garden pea, and pigeon pea). Some vegetables are perennial (artichoke, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke, rhubarb, sea kale). Some agronomic crops are consumed as a vegetable in various stages, and these types are included as horticultural crops. Examples include sweet corn (the immature ears of a sweet type of maize), immature vegetable soybean or edamame, and the young leaves of amaranth.
Culinary herbs and spices. Aromatic plants used for culinary purposes are called herbs when they are temperate species and spices when they are tropical. Examples include allspice, anise, basil, capsicums, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, chervil, clove, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, funugreek, garlic, ginger, laurel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg and mace, onion, organum, parsley, pepper, poppy seed, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, sesame, star anise, tarragon, thyme, and turmeric.
The field of horticulture has a great many organizations and societies devoted to all phases of horticulture, including amateurs and fanciers, growers and handlers, researchers, and academics. There are plant societies devoted to individual or groups of crops, trade organizations devoted to the production and marketing of individual horticultural crops, and scientific societies devoted to scientific research. In the United States, the principal society devoted to the science of horticulture is the American Society for Horticultural Science (founded 1903) with offices in Alexandria, Virginia. The society publishes three scholarly journals as well as books, and conducts annual meetings. Examples of other scientific societies in the United States include the American Pomological Society, devoted to fruits and nuts, and the American Potato Society. Growers of horticultural crops are also organized in state societies. Many countries have a national scientific society devoted to horticulture. The International Society for Horticultural Science located in Leuven, Belgium, sponsors international horticultural congresses every four years.
Horticulture is a recognized part of the curricula in agriculture worldwide. In the United States many land grant universities have horticulture departments devoted to undergraduate education leading to the B.S. degree. Most of these departments provide advanced training leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degree. However, since the 1990s
there has been a trend for horticulture and agronomy departments to combine into either a Crop Science or Plant Science department. A number of schools give two-year programs leading to associate degrees.
See also Agriculture since the Industrial Revolution; Agriculture, Origins of; Aquaculture; Climate and Food; Extension Services; Farmers' Markets; Gardening and Kitchen Gardens; Genetic Engineering; Greenhouse Horticulture; High-Technology Farming; Organic Agriculture; Organic Farming and Gardening; Organic Food; Prehistoric Societies: Food Producers; Sustainable Agriculture.
Bailey, L. H. 1914. The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. New York: Macmillan, 1914.
Bailey, L. H., Ethel Zoe Bailey, and the Staff of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium. Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada. New York: Macmillan, 1976.
Brewster, James L. Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums. New York: CABI, 1994.
Brickell, Christopher, and David Joyce. The American Horticultural Society Pruning and Training. New York: DK Publishing, 1996.
Davidson, Harold, Roy Mecklenburg, and Curtis Peterson. Nursery Management: Administration and Culture. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2000.
Davies, Frederick S., and L. Gene Albrigo. Citrus. New York: CABI, 1994.
Decoteau, Dennis R. Vegetable Crops. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2000.
Dole, John M., and Harold F. Wilkins. Floriculture: Principles and Species. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1999.
Everett, Thomas H., ed. The New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture. New York: Garland, 1981.
Galleta, Gene J., David Glenn Himelrick, and Lynda E. Chandler. Small Fruit Crop Management. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1990.
Harris, Richard Wilson, James R. Clark, and Nelda P. Matheny. Arboriculture: Integrated Management of Landscape Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1999.
Hartmann, Hudson T., et al. Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices. 6th ed. Upper Saddle, River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1997.
Huxley, Anthony, ed. The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening. New York: Grove's Dictionaries, 1999.
Janick, Jules. Horticultural Reviews. New York: Wiley, 1983 to present.
Janick, Jules. Horticultural Science. 4th ed. New York: Freeman, 1986.
Janick, Jules, et al. Plant Science: An Introduction to World Crops. 3d ed. San Francisco: Freeman, 1981.
Morton, Julia Frances. Fruits of Warm Climates. Edited by Curtis F. Dowling. Miami, Fla., and Winterville, N.C.: Morton, 1987.
Nakasone, Henry Y., and Robert E. Paull. Tropical Fruits. New York: CABI, 1998.
Parry, John W. Spices: Morphology, Histology, Chemistry. 2nd ed. 2 vols. New York: Chemical Publishing, 1969.
Robinson, Richard W. Cucurbits. New York: CABI, 1997.
Vaughan, J. G., and Catherine A. Geissler. The New Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Westwood, Melvin N. Temperate-Zone Pomology: Physiology and Culture. 3d ed. Portland, Ore.: Timber Press, 1993.
K. C. Willson. Coffee, Cocoa and Tea. New York: CABI, 1999.