Students learn the ‘whys’ of day-to-day orchard and vineyard practices.
Wenatchee Valley College will offer two employee educational programs for the 2012-2013 academic year beginning in November—level one of its Hispanic Orchard Employee Education Program and level one of a similar viticulture program. The orchard program will be taught at the Wenatchee campus and at the Grandview campus of the Yakima Valley Community College; the viticulture course will be at the Grandview campus only.
Both programs share a similar format, running from November 7 to March 20 for the Wenatchee-based class and from November 9 to March 22 for the Grandview classes. Classes at Wenatchee run each Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Grandview horticulture and viticulture classes will meet concurrently each Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The introductory levels of the horticulture and viticulture program introduce students to the principles and practices of fruit production in Washington. Topics include canopy management, site selection and orchard/vineyard establishment, soils, plant nutrition, irrigation scheduling, crop management, pest control, equipment calibration, human resources management, harvest, orchard economics, and food safety. Classes also cover English terminology, basic math, computer applications, and civics, and prepare students for other HOEEP classes focusing on advanced horticulture, integrated pest management, and farm management.
Both programs include at least two field trips and attendance at the Washington State Horticultural Association’s annual meeting or the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers' annual meeting for the viticulture class members. Students earn 8 to 10 pesticide license recertification credits.
The college waives tuition for the students, but employers or students are responsible for paying special fees. The orchard program fees are about $180. Fees for the viticulture program are $250, covering the costs of field trips, books, and other related expenses. Space in the classes is limited and students are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.