HRT 403: Handling and Storage of Horticultural Crops

Course Code: HRT 403

Credits and Offerings

  • 3 credits (2 lecture and 3 lab every week)
  • Fall semester of every year

Course objectives

HRT403 is a middle level course that describes the basic principles of postharvest biology and technology. The aim is to outline the biological processes that occur in horticultural crops after harvest that directly impact product quality and the practical strategies that are used to reduce rates of postharvest decay and maintain quality. The course integrates basic biological knowledge with industry practices and introduces current research topics. The course is focused on examining the key concepts of postharvest biology that can be applied to multiple crops rather than exhaustively detailing handling and storage criteria for specific crops. A key underlying principle of the course is its relevance to society, as it relates to us as consumers, but also more broadly to global food supplies and food security.


HRT403 covers a range of fundamental science topics related to the physiological, molecular and biochemical processes that impact postharvest quality of horticultural crops, including respiration, ethylene physiology, water relations, compositional changes, and the regulation of fruit ripening and senescence. In addition, a range of applied topics are covered, including harvesting and packing house operations, temperature management, packaging, and food safety.


Class meets three times per week. Lectures are held on Monday and Wednesday and a laboratory class meets of Thursday. The lecture classes are interactive and comprise a mixture of discussion and presentations. The laboratory class is designed to complement the lectures and provides experience in experimental design, analysis of data and the preparation of lab reports. Laboratory classes also provide time for class presentations of research paper topics and for field trips to visit Michigan industries.