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SU horticulturists now also learn about subtropical fruits

For the first time in the history of Stellenbosch University's Department of Horticultural Science, third-year BScAgric students majoring in Horticulture can learn more about the cultivation and marketing of subtropical fruits such as avocados, mangoes and litchis. The first lectures of this new elective module have been presented by industry experts since the start of the new university term.

“Providing this module is in line with our vision of training horticulture experts with a holistic overview of the Southern African fruit industry," explains Dr Lynn Hoffman, chair of the SU Department of Horticultural Science.

The module, Horticulture 362, is an elective subject within the programme followed by BScAgric students with a focus on Plant and Soil Sciences.

Dr Hoffman emphasizes that it is an extension to the teaching and research done in the SU Department of Horticulture Sciences. The major part of its activities remains focussed on the cultivation of perennial, woody fruit tree crops in addition to cut flowers such as indigenous Cape Flora. These include deciduous fruits such as apples, pears citrus fruits and stone fruits such as apricots and plums that are adapted to Western Cape conditions.

“The new module opens more doors to SU students who want to work in the fruit industry, but do not want to be confined only to the traditional deciduous fruit regions of the Western Cape," she explains.

Most of the lectures presented this term are being delivered by industry experts. It is expected that an industry expert will be seconded to the University next year.

The module kicked off on a high note, with a lecture by the CEO of the subtropical fruit producer association SubTrop, Derik Donkin.

He told the 37 students who registered for the module that the ever-growing South African avocado industry is currently about R1.85 billion strong, and delivered about 170 000 tonnes of fruit in 2018. At least 360 producers are involved, with most production taking place in the northern provinces. Donkin also pointed out that up to 1000 hectares are planted annually, and that production areas have even expanded to the Southern Cape.

By Engela Duvenhage​

  • ​Photo: The first ever module on subtropical fruit production at Stellenbosch University's Department of Horticultural Science kicked off on a high note, with a lecture by the CEO of the subtropical fruit producers association SubTrop, Derik Donkin (front right). Here he is with the first group of third-year BScAgric students who registered for the module. With them are the Department of Horticulture's Prof Karen Theron (front left) and chair Dr Lynn Hoffman (front right), as well as Juan Winter (guest lecturer and agricultural economist at Sourcebi). Photographer: Anton Jordaan​





This #WomanCrushWednesday we are celebrating #Inspiring #Women in the #AgriSciences faculty.

Prof Karen Theron is a Professor in the Dept of #Horticultural Science and holds a research chair. View her research here:

#WCW #WomensMonth #InspiringWomen



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Dr Elmi Lotze - Women of SU