UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center
Offers Produce Certificate Program
Participants in the Produce Professional Safety Program at UC Davis
Photo by Penny Stockdale, UC Davis Post Harvest Technology Center.
It takes a lot of knowledge
and training to successfully handle produce from farm to plate. Wouldn’t it be nice
if there were a mechanism that helped produce industry employers recognize
qualified applicants and helped applicants validate their postharvest
Now there is, thanks to the UC
Davis Postharvest Technology Center’s new Produce Professional Certificate
Program, the first of its kind in the world. Led by a cadre of the most
respected experts in postharvest technology, the certificate program covers
everything from safety, new technologies, physiology, harvesting, cooling,
transportation, ripening, marketing fresh produce and more.
“It’s fantastic,” said Leo
Kelly, a product development specialist with Monsanto
Vegetable Seeds who focuses on developing tomatoes, peppers, melon,
broccoli and other commodities with improved traits like flavor, nutrition,
color and convenience. When the Postharvest Technology Center first started
offering the Professional Certificate Program in early 2013, Kelly was among
the first in line.
“I had attended some of their
other courses and I really admire the instructors’ knowledge and expertise,”
Kelly said. “This certificate program gives me a deeper understanding of the
science behind postharvest technology, the reason you do the things you do,
like store tomatoes at a different temperature than onions.”
Kelly has a Ph.D. in cereal
biochemistry, 20 years experience in the food industry, and five years
experience with Monsanto. And, he says, there is still so much more to learn.
The program allows participants
to customize their curriculum through an a-la-carte menu of classes in addition
to three core classes — the Postharvest Technology Short Course, the Produce
Safety Course and either the Fruit Ripening and Retail Handling Workshop or the
Fresh Cut Products Workshop. Some of the customized classes can be taken online
and you have four years to finish.
“That’s very convenient for
working people like me,” Kelly said. “You can keep your job and get the
The program is designed for
anyone in the fresh produce industry, no matter their specialty or level of
experience. Postharvest technology involves people all along the supply chain —
growers, shippers, packers, retail and others — and Kelly says participants
benefit from that diversity.
“You network with people
throughout the industry and from all over the globe,” Kelly said.
The produce professional
certificate program will help employers, job-seekers and anyone who wants to
expand their postharvest expertise, said Beth Mitcham, director of the
Postharvest Technology Center and a postharvest biologist and Cooperative
Extension specialist with the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of
“When produce industry employers
are hiring, candidates with a Produce Professional Certificate will have an
advantage over other candidates,” Mitcham said. “When you know the candidate has
learned and demonstrated knowledge of best practices for produce handling, you’re
confident they will be an assist to your company.”
Depending on which courses you
chose, the certificate program will cost about $7,500 over four years. For more
details, check out the Postharvest Technology Center website at http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/
Labels: Beth Mitcham, Leo Kelly, Monsanto, Penny Stockdale UC Davis, postharvest technology center, UC Davis Produce Certificate Program