PLNT*6010 Physiology of Crop Yield

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2023 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.

Pre-Requisites: PBIO*3110 or by permission of the instructor


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 WebAdvisor 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 Plant and Crop Physiology, and be able to demonstrate this knowledge in short, written quizzes in-class, that cover specific sub-topic areas and relevant papers that were discussed previously in the class.
  2. Lead structured discussions of one or more assigned papers in the area of Plant and Crop Physiology.
  3. Participate meaningfully in discussions of assigned research papers, in a manner that demonstrates both an understanding of  the assigned publications and papers and an effort to contribute to the learning of other course participants.
  4. Review the current literature in the area of Plant and Crop Physiology pertaining to different strategies for managing crop production and testing plant and crop performance that are applicable to both traditional field cultivation of plants and production of crops in protected environments, by developing a suitable research question related to an area of interest, and designing a plausible research approach to address that question.
  5. Present a research proposal in the following forms:  
    • presenting orally (as a preliminary discussion) in class the primary premise and objectives that underpin the research questions being considered,
    • developing a written, major paper in a research proposal format, and finally,
    • presenting the final research proposal as an oral presentation in class, as one would if the research proposal were to be presented for funding to a potential sponsor (e.g., an interested industry partner, and/or a research granting agency from a foundation or government). 

Lecture Content:

Set 1- Light Trapping and Biomass

  • Interception and Harvesting of Light Energy: Energy Use Efficiency,
  • Biomass Accumulation: Carbon, Nitrogen and Sulphur

Set 2 – Harvest Index, Crop Yield and Quality

  • Source and Sink Strengths   
  • Partitioning of Biomass

Set 3 – Whole Plant & Canopy Response to Abiotic Stress

  • Temperature and Respiration
  • Water Use Efficiency and Drought Stresses 

Set 4– Open Field and Protected Crop Production Systems

  • Assessing Growth Analysis Metrics
  • Enhancing Radiation Use Efficiency 

Set 5 – Alternative, Photosynthetically Efficient Cropping Systems 

  • Woody Plants & Vining Crops
  • Aquatic Plants, Biomass & Bio-products
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




Planning of the Research Proposal including Leading Discussion of a Publication assigned to the Class.

20% 4

Research Proposal (Written)

30% 4

Final Presentation of Individual Research Proposal

10% 5


20% 3


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 11:59 pm on the due date, via the course website DropBox.  Penalty for late submission is 10% of the assignment grade for each calendar day or part thereof that the assignment is overdue.

Attendance is considered in allocating the portion of the grade assessing participation. 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.

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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