HORT*3280 Greenhouse Crop Production

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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 examines the principles and practices of production, culture and marketing of greenhouse flower and vegetable crops. 

Pre-Requisites: 1 of AGR*2050, AGR*2470, BOT*2100


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please see WebAdvisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

Specific Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  1. have experienced presenting individual research findings arising from a major term assignment for which each student had developed a position paper on a selected crop of interest based on newly published, technical information that was either currently in commercial use or might become adopted for use for the production of crops in controlled environments
  2. have developed a better understanding of the relationships among primary physiological and biochemical processes that affect plant growth and development as well as final yield and commercial quality of the crop produced in selected protected environment systems such greenhouses
  3. have conducted a hands-on, semester-long, research experiment that was focused on selected aspects of management of modern greenhouse production systems; having improved literacy through a comprehensive library search of pertinent background data and having assessed the development of targeted analytical objective(s), hypotheses, and methodologies that provided measurements of plant and crop development under multiple environmental stresses
  4. have improved literacy through presentation of research objectives and findings, via a series of assignments and reports that included the major term paper and the assessment of the major, class research projects that were reviewed critically within class



Lecture Content:

Through lectures, seminars and laboratory exercises students will have the opportunity to develop an understanding of how environmental factors can affect physiological and developmental plant processes and alter the commercial yield and quality of selected greenhouse crops and fresh produce such as mushrooms and medical marijuana that also are produced in controlled environments.

The lecture periods during the semester will consist of two sections during the semester. 

In the first section, (January and February) the instructor and experts from university, government and/or industry (if available) will lead class discussions during the lecture periods. The material covered before the winter break will be the subject of a mid-term examination that will have a value of 10% of the final grade.

In the second section, (March and April), in addition to selected seminars led by the instructors and experts, each student in the class will introduce their special topic identifying a greenhouse crop and lead a discussion based on their ongoing library research for their final case study for that crop.

The student led seminars are to be focused on the individually selected and approved Crop Case study they are working on. The class seminar and discussion period for each Crop Case study is to be delivered orally and constitutes one of the marked components for the “Major Term Assignment” of each student. As outline in the Assessment section (below) there are several components culminating in the submission of a final written report (i.e, the Crop Case Study) that is due on the last day of classes (April 10th). The exercise of leading a classroom discussion is an opportunity for each student to outline their proposal for their term paper to colleagues. The experience of presenting data and ideas being developed for ones Major Term Paper, even though they may not be finalised, is an opportunity to experience challenges commonly faced by business managers when they are expected to be able to articulate and present a business proposal at a planning meetings even though that proposal(with its new ideas and concepts) is in a planning stage but needs to be test-driven so that it can be improved upon internally based on healthy discussions arising from colleagues suggestions.

Regarding the Major Term Assignment of the crop case study it must suffice here to mention that well before the oral presentation in class, each student will assign a pertinent research paper (chosen by that student with the approval of the instructors) to the class so that the class can better prepare and contribute to the ideas of the presenter. A schedule for these class presentations plus an Abstract briefly outlining the topic of crop case study in preparation and the assigned reading material for each presentation should be distributed by the third week of February. Participation in these student-led, class discussion period is important as the information presented and discussed in-class should help all participating to formulate their answer for the final examination (i.e.,10% of the final grade). All students are expected to attend and participate in the class during seminar periods. No exceptions will be considered except for medical reasons.

Lecture topics include:

  • The importance of greenhouse industries with markets, trends and issues
  • Light/radiation and the effects on growth and development of major greenhouse crops
  • Temperature effects on growth, development and commercial value of greenhouse crops
  • The use of carbon dioxide in protected environments
  • The influence of humidity on plant transpiration and crop growth in greenhouses
  • The role of root growth and nutrient uptake during indoor production
  • Principles of integrated climate control on production of ornamental and edible crops
  • The use of growth regulators in greenhouse crops
  • Management of selected holiday crops such as poinsettias and lilies
  • Factors affecting the growth /development of ornamental plants
  • Principles of greenhouse vegetable production
  • Pest and biological control in controlled environments
  • Novel uses of controlled environments for by-products, medicinals and pharmaceuticals
  • Greenhouse cropping and alternative systems 
  • Production of, transplants including bedding plants. 
Labs & Seminars:

Participation and reporting of two laboratory assignments will account in total for 35% of the final mark for this course:

I. a Practical Technical Assignment (10%),
II. a Report detailing the Student-Team Laboratory Experiment (25%).

I) The Technical Laboratory Report: 
This first laboratory report is a practical assignment that will be based on technical issues of nutrient and water management. During the laboratory periods students will be taught how to calculate fertilizer and other chemical formulations, and, also how to examine nutritional analysis of plant tissue. These demonstrations may also include analyses of fresh and dry weights, pigment analyses and how gas exchange measurements of carbon dioxide and water loss (transpiration) that can be used to help manage plant growth and crop health during commercial production. The purpose of this practical exercise on nutrient management is to focus attention on the methodologies, instrumentation and protocols that are frequently applied during greenhouse and CEA production. As outlined below this report that is due on Friday, March 3rd 2023 should be prepared by each student independently and will have a value of 10% of their final grade. The assignment is meant to be shorter in total lengthen and scope in terms of complexity and literature assessment than the major laboratory report dealing with plant growth analyses due at the end of semester.

II) Two Options for The Laboratory Report dealing with plant/crop growth experiments.

Option-A). Easter Lily Production: controlling the quality of a timed, holiday crop:

Suffice to say here that this class experiment focusses on methods used in the production of a holiday crop, Easter Lily. Specifically, this class experiment examines “The effects and efficacy of numerous selected, physical and chemical treatments that can be used commercially to alter the growth, development and timing of application affecting the commercial production of a high quality, Easter Lily crop for the marketplace.”

Briefly, it suffices here to note that when a grower produces Easter Lilies in Canada, they must be able to manipulate many chemical, environmental and cultural factors to produce a high value ornamental crop, timed for distribution and sale just before the Easter holidays. In the W 2023 semester (i.e., Jan-Feb-Mar), plants will be established and receive cultural treatments (similar) to those outlined in the following Table.




Plant Number


Ambient lighting and day length. Natural far-red light


Red /blue LEDs

Supplementary lighting 50% red / 50% blue LED


Full Spectrum LEDs

Supplementary lighting LED


High Pressure Sodium

Supplementary lighting (high intensity discharge)


Growth Regulator Control

Water Check of Chemical treatment, with surfactant 2x


A-rest (Ancymidol)

Chemical. Label rate drench 2X


A-rest (Ancymidol)

Chemical. Label rate spray 2X


Sumagic (Uniconazole)

Chemical. Label rate drench 2X


Sumagic (Uniconazole)

Chemical. Label rate spray 2X


Cold water

Physical. plant growth treatment


Black out or Agitation

Physical. Far-red light removal or wind from a fan






Many culturally induced stresses are used by growers to alter; a) growth rate, b) development patterns, c) length of the cropping period (i.e., time to harvest), and d) the final, marketable ornamental quality of an Easter Lily plant. For each treatment listed, key plant metrics will be measured on a regular basis and the raw data will be shared by student teams to record and analyze and comment on in their individual reports.

Hopefully, by the 2nd week of semester student teams will be established and each student team will be collecting data for their specific conditions (e.g., chemical drenches) as well as starting to share their measurements with others within this class-team project. It is expected that students will statistically analyze data as these results are collected. By analyzing the ‘raw’ data in real-time, students should develop a better appreciation of how each stress factor (e.g., a chemical treatment) is altering the growth rate, final height and flowering time and marketable ornamental quality of the plants. When growers are trying to manage a timed crop, such as Easter Lilies, the real-time, growth data need to be assessed in conjunction with the microclimate conditions in the greenhouse. A number of these environmental variables will be measured simultaneously and shared with the class. Together, these data sets can be used to indicate how altering environmental factors that are changing within the greenhouse during the winter semester induced stresses on the growth and appearance of the Easter Lilies. Importantly the data collected can be used to predict how a producer might best apply a specific remediation treatment to manage the crop growth rate and optimize plant quality and commercial value. Each student should include in their final report, an assessment any effects of the environment of the Bovey greenhouse that are provided to them by the instructors (e.g., light levels, temperatures, etc.). These data are important in the analyses of the metrics of plant growth and development that contribute to the Easter Lily plants as marketable commodities.

Option-B). The effects of supplementary lighting on the vegetative and reproductive development of selected greenhouse-grown, fresh produce during winter months.
As noted above several other options for hands-on experimental training exist within Option B. The student team experiments possible that are suggested are designed to test the effects of various LED and HPS artificial lighting systems on a selected number of greenhouse crops (e.g., lettuce, microgreens, micro-tom tomato, ornamental pepper, strawberry, geranium, marigold, gerbera, petunia and sunflower). Taken together these tests have been set up in the greenhouse teaching area of Bovey to illustrate how detailed growth analysis is required on a crop basis. The plants to be studied in W 2023 were started in November or December 2022 specifically for testing how these crops would grow during the months of the year when natural (outdoor) lighting levels are low, in part because the days are the shortest. Given the growth dynamics among these populations from Dec and during the first week of Jan 2023, students should have a healthy selection of plant material to work on when classes resume.

Thus it is an "option" to choose from these vegetatively growing as well as flowering and fruiting “crops”, sufficient study material other than the Easter Lilies (described in Option A, above). For example, the slowly maturing fruiting crops (miniature tomatoes and peppers) should can be expected to provide useful data to collect through Feb and Mar. The data sought may include such metrics such as leaf areas, stem heights and thickness, pigment content-analyses, flower number fruit number size and other growth traits regarding fruit development. The class will have access to scanners, balances, SPAD meters, spectro-radiometer. Also, if possible during semester, key leaf canopy physiological metrics such as photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration measurements that are based on data from infrared gas analyses may be presented (by the instructors) and available for analysis by students.

In summary, please note that options for submitting a lab report on any crop or treatment should be approved by the instructors by the end of the 2nd week, Jan 17th 2023 at which time we can better access the status of the plants growing in the Bovey complex.

Furthermore, the final report whether dealing with test plants as part of Option A or as part of Option B experimentation should be written in a scientific manner and demonstrate a clear description of the protocols (i.e., Materials and Methodology) used in collecting and analysing the data generated during this greenhouse, laboratory experiment. The Due Date for final laboratory report will be the last day of classes, April 10th, 2023.



Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test
(Final due dates may need to be re-adjusted)2,
Contribution to Final Mark (%) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Special Lecture Report



Abstract for Oral Presentation & Selection of Research Publication 


1, 2, 4

Oral Presentation for Preparation of Major Individual Paper


1, 2, 4

Major Individual Research Paper


1, 2, 3, 4

Laboratory Research Report 


2, 3, 4

Technical Laboratory Assignment


2, 4

Mid Term Quiz

10% 2

Final Examination

10% 1, 2, 3, 4


Final examination:

The final examination will be a take home examination that will be assigned by the last day of regular classes and laboratories (April 8, 2022). The final answer(s) will be due on April 11, 2022 during the final examination that is online.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

There is no required text for this course. 

Recommended Texts:


Lab Manual:  


Other Resources:  

Lecture notes and other background materials will be distributed to students via the CourseLink website. The data and results from ongoing laboratory experiments will be posted on-line during or as soon after each laboratory period as they are available in a suitable manner for distribution to the class.

Field Trips:


Additional Costs:  

Closed-toe shoes are required in the greenhouse and laboratory areas. Also a lab coat or clothing that can get a bit dirty should be worn when handling plant material and potting media.

Course Policies:

Grading Policies: 

For all assignments a penalty of minus 10% of the grade for that assignment will be deducted per late day, unless academic consideration has been granted by the instructors.

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. In addition, all lecture material such as notes or files provided by the instructors are solely for the use of the authorized student in this course 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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