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Horticulturist

Horticulturists are agricultural scientists whose focus is finding a better way to develop, grow, harvest, store, process, and ship fruits, vegetables, and decorative plants. They work with orchard, field, garden, nursery, and greenhouse plants to research and conduct tests related to breeding, spraying, and harvesting plants. Horticulturists also use their expertise to develop new plant varieties, such as varieties that can better resist insects or disease or are better adapted to growing in a range of climates and soils.

Job duties:

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a horticulturist:

1.Prepare soils for planting.
2.Plant seeds and tend and harvest plants.
3.Monitor plant growth and health, including collecting and analysing data from plantings and test plots.
4.Propagate plants, including collecting seeds, grafting, dividing rootstock, and de-budding flowers, trees, shrubs, and ornamental plants.
5.Apply garden chemicals, including fertilisers and pesticides.
6.Research new varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, including how and where they grow best.
7.Research new methods for cropping, storing, and processing.
8.Sell plants and horticulture products to clients and the general public, including assessing plant quality and markets.
9.Ensure compliance with applicable regulations, including food safety regulations and the import and export of injurious pests and diseases.
10.Create planting plans for gardens, including timing and plant rotation.
11.Work with industry to address issues related to competitiveness and sustainability.

Work environment:

Horticulturists work in a variety of locations, including:

In the office:

1.Doing paperwork and analysing data for reporting
2.Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, government departments, colleagues, and experts in the field
3.Designing experiments and trials, writing scientific papers
4.Researching new technology and advancements in horticulture

In the field:

1.Planting, tending, harvesting, and inspecting plants
2.Meeting with clients and customers and selling products
3.Assessing quality, health, and value of plant products
4.Conducting experiments and trials
5.Making presentations to industry and colleagues

Career opportunities:

There are a number of places horticulturists can find employment. They include:

1.Nurseries and greenhouses
2.Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
3.Universities and colleges
4.Horticulture, floriculture, and agriculture research companies
5.Fruit and vegetable farming operations
6.Garden centres and plant retailers
7.Landscapers and property management companies
8.Self-employed consultant
9.Not-for-profit and non-governmental organisations
10.Zoos and botanical gardens

Qualification:

If you are a high school student considering a career as a horticulturist, you should have strong marks or an interest in:

1.Biology
2.Chemistry
3.Mathematics
4.English

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a horticulturist is a college technical diploma. If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as a horticulturist, the following programmes are most applicable:

1.Horticulture
2.Botany
3.Agronomy
4.Forestry
5.Environmental Science

In most cases, it is not necessary to become certified in order to work as a horticulturist. Some practitioners, however, may find employment in industries where it is necessary to become certified as a Professional Forester or Professional Agronomist.
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