72648 - Ecophysiology In Horticultural Crops

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Luca Corelli Grappadelli

  • Credits 3

  • SSD AGR/03

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Horticultural Science (cod. 8765)

Academic Year 2013/2014

Learning outcomes

Knowledge on the interactions between trees and the environment influencing productivity and quality of fruit productions. Theoretical bases on the main physiological cycles of fruit trees, as Carbon balance, water relations, tree-light interactions. This knowledge is integrated in the study of fruit growth physiology, with a strong approach towards actual application in the orchard. Students acquire knowledge that allows them to carry out fruit growth monitoring and real-time evaluation, along with knowledge of the potential corrective actions that can be adopted in the field. 

Course contents

a) Prerequisites

Students taking this class must possess strong bases in biology and botany, in addition to knowledge of arboriculture, agrometeorology, chemistry, biochemistry and soil chemistry, to properly understand the subjects addressed here, which relate to advanced fruit growing aspects. Students must also possess knowledge in organic chemistry and physics to understand the water relations of the tree and its interactions with the environment. These prerequisites are obtained during the first level degree.

Combining basic knowledge with the capacity of identifying and managing highly efficient and sustainable fruit production methods is paramount in the making of a modern, sustainable fruit growing specialist.

b) Teaching units

The course is made up of 6 main teaching units:

  1. Tree water relations (Teaching unit lenght 4 hours):
    water potentials;
    training system effect on water potentials;
    environment conditions and water potentials.

  2. Tree-Light relations (Teaching unit lenght 6 hours):
    physical properties of light; methods to measure light in the orchard;
    biochemical aspects;
    biological aspects;
    the effect of growing practices on tree-light interactions;
    orchard design.

  3. Photosynthetic efficiency (Teaching unit lenght 6 hours):
    photosynthesis - why and how to measure it;
    photosynthetic parameters;
    environment effects on tree photosynthesis;
    light excess and consequences on primary photoproductivity;
    photo-oxidation, water-water cycle and photorespiration.

  4. Growth (Teaching unit lenght 6 hours):
    parameters to express growth and their relevance to the study of growth;
    sampling methods and data processing; fruit growth models;
    cell demography and fruit growth;
    effect of time of thinning on the growth of fruit;
    thinning strategies and environment effects on fruit growth.

  5. The flows of fresh and dry matter that allow fruit growth (Teaching unit lenght 4 hours):
    measurement methods;
    importance of phenological stages;
    the xylem contribution to fruit growth;
    the phloem contribution to fruit growth;
    the role of transpiration in fruit growth;
    a typical daily growth in apple, peach and kiwifruit.

  6. Precision fruit growing (Teaching unit lenght 4 hours):
    analytical approaches;
    the peach case study. 


Lecture notes, handouts and articles provided by the instructor through internet services managed by UNIBO. 

Teaching methods

Classroom lectures make up 60% of the time allotted to this course. The remainder 40% is spent in visits to plots/labs of the University Exp. Station, or in the department greenhouses. 

Assessment methods

The course comprises two modules: Fruit Tree Physiology (3 credits – taught by prof. Corelli Grappadelli) and Fruit Quality Assessment (3 credits – taught by prof. Costa). Therefore, the evaluation of the integrated course jointly considers the knowledge level acquired by the student, in relation to all the materials covered in both modules. The knowledge acquired in this module is assessed via oral evaluation of topics from at least 4 teaching units. The goal of the evaluation is to assess the overall capacity of the student to recognize and address problems areas in the field of fruit tree management and fruit qualiy evaluation, and devise solutions to these problems. 

Teaching tools

Classroom lectures are provided with the aid of visuals. On occasion, seminars may be offered by visiting professors from other institutions, to integrate the instructor's lectures. 

Office hours

See the website of Luca Corelli Grappadelli