Anyone who grows, handles and markets fruits and vegetables has a chance to earn a Produce Professional Certificate in a new program from the University of California-Davis Postharvest Technology Center.

The certification, with an estimated cost to participants of about $5,000 over four years, is earned through a series of workshops and online courses, said Pam Devine, representative for the Postharvest Technology Center.

Participants study produce safety, harvesting systems, cooling, packaging, transportation, modified atmospheres and marketing fresh produce, according to a news release.

Devine said the it includes mandatory classes taken at the UC-Davis campus, and online courses. Campus courses include the Postharvest Technology Short Course and the Produce Safety Course.

For the third mandatory class, participants can choose between the Fruit Ripening and Retail Handling Workshop or the Fresh Cut Products Workshop, Devine said. A Fresh Produce Marketing Strategies course, taught by economist Roberta Cook, is also available in the certificate program.

The program is designed for anyone in the fresh produce industry, Devine said.

“It will benefit people that get it because it will make them a little more marketable and show they know their stuff in postharvest issues,” Devine said.

For industry companies, the program will help managers identify the right people to hire, she said.

Devine said participants can customize their curriculum through an a la carte menu to complement a core set of courses. The program awards one point for each hour of instruction, with 120 points needed to earn a certificate within the four-year time limit.

The courses include a minimum of 76 hours of required courses and about 44 hours of optional courses and lectures, according to the release.

Certificate requirements can be met with as few as four courses, according to the release, and the program will honor a two-year retroactive option to participants enrolled in 2011 or 2012 courses who passed the test for each course attended,

More information about the program is at the Postharvest Technology Center website, or by calling the program staff at 530-752-6941 or, according to the release.