PLNT*6010 Physiology of Crop Yield

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2019 and is subject to change. It is provided for information only. The course outline distributed to the class at the beginning of the semester describes the course content and delivery, and defines the methods and criteria to be used in establishing the final grades for the course.

This course covers factors affecting biomass production and yield, with primary focus on phenomena measured at the whole canopy scale. Yield-limiting abiotic stresses (temperature, water deficit, nutrient deficiency) are considered in detail, as are technical aspects of instrumentation used in crop physiology research.


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Graduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to Web Advisor for course schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of this course, students should be able to:
  1. Have the technical knowledge to critically read the current scientific literature in the area of Crop Physiology, and be able to demonstrate this knowledge in five short examinations written in-class, each covering a specific sub-topic area.
  2. Lead structured discussions of one or more assigned papers in the area of Crop Physiology.
  3. Participate meaningfully in discussions of assigned research papers, in a manner that demonstrates that they have read and attempted to understand the assigned papers, and which contributes to the learning of other course participants.
  4. Review the current literature in an area of Crop Physiology, identify a suitable research question related to the area, and design a plausible research approach to address that question.
  5. Present a research proposal in the form of a major paper, and as an oral presentation to the class.

Lecture Content:

12 Weeks, with two 90-minute meetings per week (24 meetings total)

The course is divided into five sets of topics, each two weeks in length.  Typically, Tuesdays are devoted to instructor-led lectures or demonstrations, and the Thursdays are used for discussion of relevant papers. Most paper discussions will be led by the students.  Papers to be discussed on Thursdays are normally assigned the previous Friday.

The final two class meetings will be used for student presentations related to the major assignment.

This general plan is based on expected enrolment of 10 to 12 students, and may be modified to accommodate larger or smaller numbers.  The final schedule will be set following the first class meeting.

The course is divided into five main topic sets, lasting two weeks each:

Topic Set 1 – Carbon Assimilation

  • Energy Harvesting and Energy Dissipation
  • Reduction of Carbon, Nitrogen and Sulphur

Topic Set 2 – Carbon Partitioning

  • Regulation of Source and Sink Strength
  • Harvest Index and Yield Formation

Topic Set 3 – Canopy-Scale Measurements

  • Growth Analysis and Radiation Use Efficiency
  • Canopy Reflectance Spectroscopy

Topic Set 4 – Respiratory Carbon Loss

  • Respiration, Growth and Development
  • Whole Crop Respiration Components

Topic Set 5 – Alternative Photoautotrophic Production Systems

  • Woody Plants and Vining Crops
  • Aquatic Plants, Biomass and Bioproducts
Labs & Seminars:

There are no labs or seminars scheduled for this course.

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Mark Learning Outcomes Assessed




Three paper discussions led by students

30% (3 x 10%)*


Major paper

25% 4

Presentation of major paper

10% 5


15% 3

If fewer than three papers are assigned to each student, then the remaining portion of the grade will be allocated to the participation mark.

Final examination:

There is no final examination scheduled for this course.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:


Recommended Texts:


Lab Manual:


Other Resources:

Lecture notes and other materials will be distributed to students via the CourseLink website.

Field Trips:


Additional Costs:


Course Policies:

Grading Policies

Assignments are due by 4:30 pm on the due date, via email to the instructor. Penalty for late submission is 10% of the assignment grade for each calendar day or part thereof that assignment is overdue.

The portion of the grade allocated to participation will be determined on the final class day, based 50% on evaluation by the instructors, and 50% on peer evaluation (rating by other students in the course).  This part of the grade is an assessment of how your in-class participation contributes to the learning of others.  Attendance is considered in allocating this portion of the grade.  Students who miss more than one class without a documented medical or compassionate reason should expect to be penalized in this part of the grade assignment.

Five quizzes will be administered over the semester.  The lowest grade of the five will be dropped, and the remaining 4 quizzes will count for 20% of the course grade (i.e., 5% each).

Course Policy on Group Work:


Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures:

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor. When recordings are permitted they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor.

Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

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The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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