A Taste of the Tropics Spices Up Student Interest

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticultural Science, Texas A&M Univ., College Station, TX 77843

Tropical horticultural crops can be the spark that builds student interest in horticulture. They are a refreshing alternative to the temperate crops that most of our curricula are necessarily built around. Students who become familiar with production problems and opportunities between 30° north and south latitudes are better equipped to compete in the world economy. HORT 423 covers tropical ecology, soils, atmosphere, and many major crops. Beverage crops studied are cacao, coffee, and tea. Fruit and nut crops include bananas, mango, papaya, pineapple, dates, oil palm, coconut, macadamia, cashew, and Brazil nuts. Spices such as vanilla, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, cassia, and cloves are studied. Subsistence crops such as cassava, yam, taro, pigeon peas, chick peas, vegetable soy beans, and black beans round out an exciting semester that draws students. HORT 423 is a 3-hour-per-week lecture demonstration course supplemented with slides from the tropical countries. Many students simultaneously enroll in a 1-hour HORT 400 course that is taught during the 1-week spring break in a tropical country. Recent trips have been two each to Costa Rica and Guatemala. These study trips are gaining in popularity. For more information about HORT 423 consult the world wide web at http://http.tamu.edu:8000/~c963/a/h423main.html.

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