Commercial Horticulturists

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Commercial horticulturists are responsible for overseeing the growth, harvesting, packaging, selling and distribution of crops.

Commercial horticulturists are involved with cultivating, packaging and selling crops ranging from food and vegetables to decorative plants. At the top levels, they are business-minded managers who monitor all aspects of the production process, helping to make sure that crops go smoothly from seedbed to market. Typical responsibilities include:

  • overseeing the cultivation and maintenance of plants and crops

  • managing weed/pest/disease control programmes

  • organising horticultural trials

  • analysing 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

  • organising/giving presentations and demonstrations

  • marketing and selling produce

  • attending conferences


Qualifications and training required


There are routes into a commercial horticulture career for both university graduates and school leavers. Degrees or higher national diplomas (HNDs) in horticulture, agriculture, soil/earth sciences, environmental science or crop/plant science will aid entry into the profession. A relevant postgraduate qualification may also be helpful for some opportunities. 


Key skills for commercial horticulturists


In addition to horticultural skills and knowledge, employers look for evidence of initiative, commercial awareness and good problem-solving, communication, teamworking and organisational skills.

All candidates must be physically fit and capable of working well under the pressure of meeting tight deadlines. A full driving licence is also normally required.


Typical employers


Commercial horticulturists are typically employed by food and produce companies, farms, plant nurseries and garden centres.


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