Introduction to Fruit Crops. Mark Rieger. 2006. $69.95 soft. Haworth Press, Binghamton, N.Y. ISBN-13:978-1-56022-259-0 / ISBN-10: 1-56022-259-X. Pages, 462 pp. with Index. Includes 46 pp. of color photos. 8.25” × 10.75” format. Web: http://www.HaworthPress.com/store/product.asp?sku=5547.
This latest edition to the world of fruit literature contains thirty chapters. Besides the chapters covering individual fruit crops there is an introduction and overview in Chapter One. The book also has a couple useful appendices on common and scientific names of fruit crops and one with useful conversion factors. The 29 fruits covered in individual chapters include the following: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Banana and Plantain, Blackberries and Raspberries, Blueberries, Cacao, Cashew, Cherry, Citrus Fruits, Coconut, Coffee, Cranberry, Date, Grapes, Hazelnut or Filbert, Macadamia, Mango, Oil Palm, Olive, Papaya, Peach, Pears, Pecan, Pineapple, Pistachio, Plums, Strawberry, and Walnuts.
Each chapter follows a uniform format with the following topical headings: Taxonomy, Origin, History of Cultivation, Folklore, Medicinal Properties, Nonfood Usage, United States and World Production, and a Botanical Description of the plant, flowers, pollination and fruit. These topics are followed by General Culture—including soils and climate, propagation, planting design, training and pruning, and pest problems. Next is Harvest, Postharvest Handling—including maturity, harvest method, postharvest handling, and storage. Each of the chapters ends with a Contribution to Diet section. Chapters are finished off with a Bibliography of useful references.
The book reflects Dr. Rieger's many years of teaching fruit science courses at the University of Georgia. I like the large page format of the book, which allows the author to pack quite a bit of information into its 462 pages. It contains sufficient photographs, charts, graphs, and tables to keep the text interesting. The strength of the book is the 29 different crops that are covered. The weakness of the book is trying to adequately cover these 29 crops in 368 pages. With an average of only twelve and a half pages per crop, the author is restricted to a limited overview of each commodity. This presentation is particularly difficult with an expansive topic such as citrus. Just as most of life is a trade-off, it is also the case with textbooks, and this compromise is not necessarily a bad one. With the ever-expanding resource base available to us on the Internet, outside reading assignments to emphasize a more in-depth coverage of a physiological topic or regional production guide are accessed easily. In terms of a class text, I would guess that most instructors likely would skip some of the more unusual crops, such as macadamia nuts, oil palms, cacao, and coffee. The inclusion of these crops would, however, lend the text nicely to a course where international fruit and nut production is surveyed. The inclusion of temperate, subtropical and tropical species provides the opportunity for the book to be used as a reference in several courses. I also like the fact that Food Products Press produces books that are more affordable than most textbooks on the market. Pricing the book at $70.00 makes it an attractive addition to the bookshelf of the student, the grower, the hobbyist, and even a struggling college professor.