Commercial horticulturists are responsible for overseeing the growth, harvesting, packaging, selling and distribution of crops.
Commercial growers may specialize in field crops, protected growing (for example, under glass), soft and top fruit, hardy nursery stock and cut flowers. Their clients include plant and tree nurseries, supermarkets and DIY stores.
Employers of Commercial Horticulturists
Commercial horticulturists are typically employed by food and produce companies, farms, plant nurseries and garden centres, including companies growing and supplying fresh produce and plants and those that process, package and distribute fruit and vegetables..
- overseeing the cultivation and maintenance of plants and crops
- managing weed/pest/disease control programmes
- ensuring compliance with UK and European community regulations and legislation, eg organic cultivation requirements
- organizing horticultural trials
- analyzing horticultural yields, operational costs and financial returns
- maintaining financial and administrative records
- writing and modifying business plans
- supervising and training staff
- developing new products
- negotiating contracts with buyers and suppliers
- liaising with colleagues, local officials, customers, professional groups etc
- ensuring that deadlines and quality standards are met within set budgets
- organizing/giving presentations and demonstrations
- marketing and selling produce
- attending conferences
Although a degree is not essential for entry into commercial horticulture, the following degree subjects could improve your chances of developing a professional career:
- crop and plant science
- environmental science
- food science/technology
- soil science.
Although the opportunity to work at a basic level in horticulture is still open to all, it is more common for new entrants to have a horticultural qualification. There are a range of non-degree level qualifications available, including certificates and diplomas.
The subjects you can study also include:
- horticultural sciences
- landscape and garden design
- nursery horticulture
- organic production.
- excellent planning skills
- the ability to organize and manage your own workload
- problem-solving ability
- communication and interpersonal skills
- project management skills
- ability to work in a team and use your own initiative
- management skills and business awareness
- financial awareness
- a hands-on, practical and realistic approach to work
- administration and IT skills
- flexibility and a willingness to work in a busy and varied environment
- knowledge of health and safety regulations and procedures
- physical fitness and the ability to work in physically-demanding environments
- a driving license.