HORT*3280 Greenhouse Crop Production

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2022 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. 


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. Develop a better understanding of the relationships among primary physiological processes affecting plant growth and development as well as crop yield in selected protected environment systems
  2. Experience presenting individual research findings arising from a major term assignment for which each student will develop a position paper on a selected topic (crop) of interest that is currently or can be produced in controlled environments
  3. Experience designing and executing a hands-on, semester-long, research project focused on a selected aspect of modern greenhouse production systems; including improving literacy in conducting a comprehensive library search of pertinent background data and the development of targeted objective(s), hypothesis, and methodology for the project
  4. Improve literacy through presentation of research objectives and findings, via a series of assignments including the term paper and the research project that are to be reviewed critically with the class and instructors and contribute to the class report that possibly will be presented to the public at College Royal and also as a technical report for a trade publication 

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.

In the second section, (February and March), each student from the class will introduce a special topic regarding greenhouse production and lead discussions of their library research, focused on their individual “Major Term Assignment” (see below).  A schedule for these major topic presentations will be posted by the second week of February.  However, the information presented in class and research paper chosen might form part of the final examination that all students are responsible for.   All students are expected to attend and participate in ALL class 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:

Laboratory Experiments and Practical Technical Assignment:

Laboratory participation and reporting will account in total for (35% of final mark for this course). Because of safety consideration and COVID-19 restrictions, each student will be responsible for TWO research reports that each will be based on the ongoing demonstrations of live crop material in the Bovey greenhouses and the experiments being conducted by the instructors and student teams during the winter semester.

The TWO Reports required deal with ongoing experiment with living crops during the practicals:

1) Easter Lily Production, a case study of a timed crop:

The major laboratory assignment for W2022 is the analyses and reporting of main Class Laboratory Research Project on Easter lilies. Each student should be prepared to submit a report about this experiment independently. However, as noted below in this section of the course outline an "option" may still be possible to be working on another crop plant and artificial lighting currently growing in the Bovey Bldg greenhouses  (see "3) Possible Options in W2022").

Suffice to say here that as an example of production of a timed-crop, this experiment investigates the winter-time production of marketable Easter Lily plants outlined in the Table below will produce a great deal of data, and offer several groups of students to take measurements first hand (after Jan 24th).  Specifically, this class experiment examines “The effects and efficacy of various 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 Lilies for the marketplace.” Briefly, it also 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 crop, timed for distribution and sale just before the Easter holidays. In the laboratory sessions in W2022, numerous environmental treatments that can be used by growers will be investigated using a sizable population of potted Easter lilies. On Jan 13th & 20th2022, while we are teaching remotely we will introduce the class to the Easter Lily crop that has been established in the Bovey teaching greenhouse. This population will serve as our synchronous, live plant crop for testing during the semester.  In subsequent weeks (i.e., Jan-Feb- Mar), plants will receive the cultural treatments outlined briefly 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 can be 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 quality of Easter Lily plant. For each treatment listed, key plant metrics will be measured on a regular basis and the raw data will be given to students to record and analyze in their reports. Hopefully by Jan 24th student teams will be in class and collecting data themselves. It is expected that students will statistically analyze these data as the results become available. By analyzing the ‘raw’ data in real-time, students should develop a better appreciation of how each stress factor will alter  the growth rate, final height and flowering time and marketable quality of the plants. In managing a timed crop, such as Easter Lilies, the real-time, growth data need to be assessed in conjunction with the microclimate data from the greenhouse, that also will be measured simultaneously. Together, the data sets available to the class will indicate how altering environmental factors are changing within the greenhouse and how inducing selected stresses on the crop might best be applied to manage crop growth rates and ornamental quality of the Easter Lilies. Each student should include in their individually prepared, final report, an assessment of the effects of both the environmental data provided, and their analyses of the metrics of plant growth and development that contribute to the Easter Lily plants produced as marketable commodities. The final report should be written in a scientific manner and demonstrate a clear understanding 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 the Easter Lily final report will be Apr. 8th.

2) Technical Laboratory Report: In addition to the ongoing, monitoring and analyses of the primary class experiment with the Easter Lilies, students will be asked to demonstrate competence in dealing with a major technical issue regarding nutrient management. During the laboratory sessions students will be taught how to calculate fertilizer and other chemical formulations, and also how to examine nutritional analysis of plant tissue. This demonstration will also include examining the analyses of fresh and dry weights, pigment analyses and how gas exchange measurements of carbon dioxide and water loss (transpiration) can be used to help manage plant growth and crop health during commercial production. To supplement the overall learning experiences provided by the report on plant growth experiment, this second laboratory assignment has been assigned 10% of the final grade. This purely technical laboratory exercise will be shorter in total lengthen and scope in terms of complexity and literature assessment than the major laboratory assignment on the Easter Lilies. The purpose of this practical exercise is to allow students to focus attention on the methodology, instrumentation, or technique being used to obtain useful data that can be applied to manage production. The final Due Date for this assignment is March 3rd 2022.

*3. Possible Options in W2022 for not working on Easter Lilies but an alternate greenhouse crop plant, if Covid restrictions regarding in-class, hands-on, participation are lifted by Jan 24th, and plant material is healthy and still available for student groups to handle:

As noted above several other experiments that were designed to test the effects of various LED and HPS artificial lighting systems on a a range of greenhouse crops (e.g., lettuce,  microgreens, microtom tomato, ornamental pepper, geranium, marigold, gerbera, petunia and sunflower) were set up in the greenhouse laboratory for analysis during W2022. These plants were started in December specifically for testing how these crops would grow during the months of the year when natural lighting is the low and days are the shortest (Dec, Jan, Feb). Without students in class to make measurement during much of Jan, it will be difficult in terms of having the technical time required to analyze all these plants in sufficient detail and statistically. Therefore we must wait and see what stage the plants are at by the fourth week of Jan and more importantly if students will be back in class before the end of Jan. Given the growth dynamics among these populations in late Dec and Jan, students may or may not have all crop plants to work on when in class attendance resumes.

Thus it remains an "option" to choose several of these flowering/fruiting crops as an alternate study material (vs the Easter Lilies) for analysis of the selected data sets obtained directly by student teams for the purpose of obtaining data for major laboratory report, worth 25% . Key technical data obtained from these additional laboratory demonstrations will be presented to the class as they are available. For example, the slower maturing fruiting plants (tomatoes and peppers) there may still be useful data to collect through Feb and Mar. The data provided may include such metrics as leaf areas, stem heights and thickness, pigment content-analyses, other growth traits regarding fruit development,  provided by use of scanners, balances, SPAD meters, spectro-radiometer. Also 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 another crop than Easter Lilies per se must be approved by the instructors by the week of Jan 24th 2022 when we can better access the status of the plants currently growing in the Bovey complex at the time this Course outline is being written.



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

Easter Lily Laboratory Research Report 


1, 3, 4

Technical Laboratory Assignment


1, 4

Mid Term Quiz

10% 1

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 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. 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

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the academic calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:

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University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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