The international peer review committee of the Graduate school Production Ecology and Resource Conservation has evaluated the quality or research of several chair groups at our university. The role of the Horticulture and Product Physiology group HPP is to foster the science of the supply chain for crops produced under protected cultivation.
The focus of the group is on greenhouse horticulture and the post-harvest quality of products produced in greenhouses as well as the post-harvest quality of tropical fruit. More research. HPP-WU plays an important role in the education and training of future executives in the horticultural sector. Wild blueberries and Brazil nuts are two examples. Regardless of scale or intensity, horticulture is not the production of pasture or forage for feeding animals. Growing grains, pulses or oilseeds for feed, food or industrial use is not horticulture nor are systems growing plants for fibre production e.
Forests or plantations growing trees for industrial products e. The production units for these kind of systems have English names like pastures, range, forests or fields, whereas horticultural production units are called gardens, orchards, groves, vineyards, greenhouses, nurseries, and sometimes plantations. Clearly, horticultural science addresses the needs and issues of horticultural industry as described above. However, it includes much more.
We often use terms like environmental horticulture or urban horticulture to capture a second realm that more specifically addresses environmental enhancement issues. Within this realm we more often train our graduates to perform a service than deliver a consumable product, but it is not correct to assume that these activities have less economic value. Environmental or urban horticulture supports activities like home gardening, landscaping in this context tending one's lawn is considered a horticultural activity , arboriculture, and interior decorating with plants.
These activities are often used in a human health construct we know as horticultural therapy.
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Urban parks, gardens and street trees are considered essential for creating a good living environment in communities around the world and are tended by the Horticulture Department of many cities and towns. Thus, horticulture has an important "quality of life" component for which our citizens spend great amounts of time and money.
Another realm of horticultural science with great environmental and commercial importance involves the collection, preservation, organization, characterization and improvement of horticultural plant genetic resources.
Virginia Tech Department of Horticulture
Thus, plant exploration, botanical gardens and arboreta, naming authorities, gene banks, genomics and plant breeding are the domain of many people employed in horticulture. The temperate zones are also the areas of the grasses —the finest lawns particularly are in the regions of moderate or high rainfall—and of the great cereal crops.
Rice is excluded as being tropical, but wheat , barley , corn maize , and rye grow well in the temperate zones. Plants in the temperate zones benefit from a winter resting season, which clearly differentiates them from tropical plants, which tend to grow continuously. Bulbs , annuals , herbaceous perennials , and deciduous trees become more frost-resistant with the fall of sap and therefore have a better chance of passing the resting season undamaged.
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Another influence is the varying length of darkness and light throughout the year, so that many plants, such as chrysanthemums , have a strong photoperiodism. The chrysanthemum flowers only in short daylight periods, although artificial lighting in nurseries can produce flowers the year round.
Most of the great gardens of the world have been developed in temperate zones. Particular features such as rose gardens, herbaceous borders, annual borders, woodland gardens, and rock gardens are also those of temperate-zone gardens. Nearly all depend for their success on the winter resting period. There is no sharp line of demarcation between the tropics and the subtropics.
Just as many tropical plants can be cultivated in the subtropics, so also many subtropical and even temperate plants can be grown satisfactorily in the tropics. Elevation is a determining factor.
For example, the scarlet runner bean, a common plant in temperate regions, grows, flowers, and develops pods normally on the high slopes of Mount Meru in Africa near the Equator, but it will not set pods in Hong Kong , a subtropical situation a little south of the Tropic of Cancer but at a low elevation. In addition to elevation, another determinant is the annual distribution of rainfall. Plants that grow and flower in the monsoon areas, as in India, will not succeed where the climate is uniformly wet, as in Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
Another factor is the length of day, the number of hours the Sun is above the horizon; some plants flower only if the day is long, but others make their growth during the long days and flower when the day is short. Certain strains of the cosmos plant are so sensitive to light that where the day is always about 12 hours, as near the Equator, they flower when only a few inches high; if grown near the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn , they attain a height of several feet, if the seeds are sown in the spring, before flowering in the short days of autumn and winter.
Poinsettia is a short-day plant that may be seen in flower in Singapore on any day of the year, while in Trinidad it is a blaze of glory only in late December.