HORT*3280 Greenhouse Crop Production

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2017 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 successful completion of this course students will have:

  1. 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 in 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 in designing and executing a hands-on, semester-long, research project focused on a selected aspect of modern greenhouse production systems; including improved 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. improved literacy through presentation of research objectives and findings, via a series of assignments including the term paper and the research project that is reviewed critically with the class and instructors as well as contributing to the class report that will be presented to the public at College Royal and possibly 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 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 vegetable greenhouse production
  • Pest and biological control in controlled environments
  • Novel uses of controlled environments for by-products, medicinals and pharmaceuticals
  • Greenhouse cropping vs alternative controlled environment systems (chemostats)
  • Production of, transplants including bedding plants and silviculture for rapid field establishment.
Labs & Seminars:

Laboratory participation and reporting will account for (35% of final mark for this course).

Each student will develop a research project as part of a team (normally 2 students). The team will design and carry out an experiment in consultation with the instructor and the technical staff.  Before starting any project, the team must consult with the instructor to discuss the design, collection of data, statistical analysis and class presentation before proceeding.  It is strongly advised that each team get a very early start on their laboratory projects. The laboratory research project should be chosen by each team in the first week (by Jan 12th 2017). A proper library search should begin as soon as possible. 

Some suggested topics for student laboratory experiments include investigating:

  1. The effect of different artificial lighting systems such as HPS and LED on vegetative, flowering and fruit development in Capsicum annuum and in Lycopesicum sp., cv Microtom.
  2. The effect of different artificial lighting systems such as HPS and LED on vegetative and flower development and flower quality in Chrysanthemum sp. and Lycopesicum sp.
  3. The effect of different artificial lighting systems such as HPS and LED on vegetative and flowering development and ornamental quality in Helianthus annuum.
  4. The effect of additional supplementary lighting on the growth, appearance and development of Coleus sp.
  5. The effect of physical and chemical treatments on the development and timing of Easter Lilies for market.

Laboratory project reporting will include a clear demonstration of record keeping and timely analyses of pertinent data collections.  Clear notation of weekly activities and observations of each team will be recorded in each team’s bound, laboratory note-book that will remain in the Bovey Bldg. during semester with the technical assistants. These notebooks will remain the property of the instructor. 

It is expected that statistical analysis of the data collected by each team will be undertaken as data becomes available so that the experiment can be assessed in a timely manner to assist in modifying the experimental protocols during the semester if the results indicate that alteration of methodology is warranted and is a prudent course of action. Each team will include in their final report important environmental data and observations being made on different parameters such media porosity, media pH, conductivity, and any fertilizer calculation and/or chemical formulations, nutritional analysis, tissue fresh and dry weight, leaf areas,  stem heights and thickness and so on (etc., etc.). The protocols used in each laboratory exercise should be clearly outlined in the Materials and Methods section of the daily notebook, and in an appendix to each student’s final Project Report.

Students will be fully responsible for the maintenance of their project material both in and out of the greenhouse. If a member of the team is not available to tend experimental material during weekends, holidays, reading week etc. Arrangements need to be made with other class members, and if necessary with greenhouse personnel to carry out weekend watering, fertilizing, etc. Only a limited amount of equipment (e.g., balances, SPAD meters, spectro-radiometer) are available and each team should plan in advance when they will need specific equipment.  They should consult the Technical Assistant and instructor in advance of requiring such equipment or help.

Please note that cleaning-up at the end of each laboratory period is mandatory.


There are no seminars scheduled for this course.

Course Assignments and Tests:

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

Short Report regarding site visit to Research Facility and/or Commercial site



Major Term Paper a) Abstract and selection of key research paper for Class Discussion 



Major Term Paper b) Oral presentation & discussion of key research paper



Major Term Paper c) Final Written Report (max 5,000 words)



Participation In Class Laboratory Reporting



Final Team Research Oral Presentation



Individual Laboratory Research Report



Final Examination



Additional Notes:

Major term assignment (40% of final total grade for the course):

Each student will select with the approval of the instructor a topic for that student’s Major Term Assignment by January 26th 2017 and an appropriate Abstract or summary of the Major Assignment must be submitted by Feb 1st 2017 (see below).  In TOTAL the Major Term Assignment constitutes 40% of the final grade for this course. 

There are three components to this major term assignment that together make up 40 marks.

i)  The abstract, or brief written summary, of plan for each major term assignment topic must include the citation reference of at least one published paper that will be read by all students and used in the discussions during the class oral presentation will be worth 5 marks. The deadline for submitting the abstract (less than 500 words) is February 1st 2017.

ii) An oral presentation be given in class during which each student will lead discussion by introducing their topic and the reading that is influencing the creation of the major term assignment that they selected.  The oral presentation should be timed to be approx. 30 to 40 minutes in total. Each presentation should serve an opportunity to introduce the topic of interest, explain the main points in the abstract (i.e., component i) above). All abstracts will be posted to the class by early February and these will serve to alert the class of the major topic that the student is pursuing via the library search and the assigned paper* that will be highlighted.

*At this time it suffices to point out that the assigned paper chosen for classroom analyses in January may be a classical scientific one or it may be a paper dealing with an economic analysis of the marketing or culturing of the crop of choice. Thus, the subject area of the paper about the crop chosen for class discussion could pertain to advances in breeding, genetics, physiology, cultural management and production, disease or pest control. However, a detailed market analysis or socioeconomic study regarding the topic may also serve as a suitable background paper.

All members of the class are expected to have read the assigned paper prior to their classmate’s presentation, and, will provide feedback on the direction in which the student (presenter) is focusing their assessment of primary reading material specific to their assignment. 

The individual oral presentations will be scheduled during February, March and possibly April and will be worth 10 marks. This mark will be given by all classmates in attendance and the instructor. Regarding, the Oral presentation and earning the 10 marks, the following comments are pertinent. To help prepare the final term paper each student will prepare and deliver to the class during the regular class periods an overview or case study of the crop (or subject) that they are highlighting for their major term paper.  A schedule of the presentations will be posted by the first week in February.  Credit will be given for a) the clarity and accuracy of the general presentation of the subject, and b) their assessment of the current state of knowledge based on the student’s analysis of the literature that will obviously include a brief presentation of a specific research or technical publication on the subject that the class has been directed to. The publication to be discussed should be chosen by the student during their library search.  The specific paper should be one that is influencing the choice of, and the preparation of the Major Term paper.  By bringing such a research paper or scholarly report to the attention of all in the class, before the final written assignment is actually written and submitted, the class as a whole can serve as an advisory council to the presenter.

iii) A final written assignment that will be due on the last day of regular classes (i.e., April 7th 2016) that is worth 25 marks. 



Grading Research Reports:

The total of 35 marks for activity in the laboratory will be given for three different tasks:

1) A preliminary report worth 5%;

2) An oral team report and abstract presented to the class also worth 5%;

3) Final individual Laboratory Report worth 25%.

Prior to submitting the final individual laboratory report each student team (i.e. team) will have participated in two presentations in class and also helped create a brief summary or Abstract of their teams’ findings as well as acting as a moderator for the class demonstration at College Royal. 

1) Participation & Preliminary report to the class leading to helping with preparations for College Royal is worth potentially 5%.  First, each team will present a very concise, 5- to 10-minute summary to the class of their preliminary findings by March 10th (tentatively).  Each team will also provide a concise written report (e.g., one to two pages) to the instructor and classmates for possible inclusion in a poster display for College Royal (2nd weekend of March). 

2) The final oral team presentation to the class also earns potentially 5% of the final grade. Depending on scheduling in late March and early April each team will present their final findings and conclusions to the class in the form of a 15-20 minute-research-seminar with slides, overheads, handouts, plant material, etc. The seminars will be no longer than 20 min, including a 5-minute question period.  It is strongly recommended that each report include analyses of all the team’s data, so that the class presentations by each team can be assessed by others who may have similar results and want to try to pool these data to achieve more robust statistical analyses. This should be possible since each team will have introduced their project orally to the class in early March prior to College Royal (i.e. “Preliminary” Reports). Each team as part of their final report to the class should provide a concise, 300 word “Abstract” of their experiments.  NOTE: Each Team’s Abstract may subsequently appear in a modified form in a horticultural or trade publication. Also the laboratory projects are ‘fair game’ for the Final examination! 

3) an individual, written final research report (25%). Obviously, the primary data and objectives and many conclusions will be the very similar for the two partners within a team. In addition, when Class results that are analyzed together (i.e., pooled data) and these are included within an Individual’s final report there will obviously be overlap (replication of data) and similarity. Furthermore, it is appreciated that in many cases similar conclusions from one student’s report to another will appear. However, each student’s must hand in a written report in.  A single report with two or more student’s names on it will not qualify as fulfilling the requirement for an individual report.  The purpose here is to give each student the opportunity to differ in their analysis of the data and or the interpretation of the team data if they so choose to. Each individual report should reflect the library searches, conclusions and opinions of that individual as well as an explanation why they might be differing from the consensus of the team or group. Each student is encouraged to hold an opinion and express their own analysis of data and they will be marked on both their team effort and also their individual interpretation and assessment of their experiment and /or the literature they have read in preparing their report. This written report will be worth 25% of each student’s final grade.

Each student must hand in their individual, final research report, by 5pm, Friday April 7th 2017.

Guidelines for the final reports: Final laboratory reports should be submitted as a formal written experimental report following the standards of the J. of the Amer. Soc. of Hort. Science (http://www.ashs.org/downloads/style_manual.pdf).  Thus the report should include: 1. Abstract (150 words, maximum); 2. Introduction; 3. Materials and Methods; 4. Results, Figures, Tables, and Statistics; 5. Discussion; 6. Conclusions; 7. Literature Cited (author / year format). In addition to reviews and technical reports that can be cited each student should find and use at least 4 original research articles taken from referred journals to introduce and discuss their findings; 8. Appendix (i.e., raw data/formulas/calculations).

Field Trips (5% of Final Mark for the Course):

Hopefully there will be at least 1 trip organized to visit one or two commercial operations off campus.  Currently, the plan for W2017 is for a full day on a Saturday in late January or February.  As travel time and meaningful discussions with the operators in most regions of Ontario greatly exceed the 3-hour laboratory period for this course an adjustment will be made in the overall lecture and laboratory schedule to provide credit for the time spent on such a field trip.  If the off-campus trip cannot be made a special on-campus tour and seminar will be arranged.  Participation in the field trip or tour and a very brief report of the visitation will be given a value of 5% of the final grade. 

Final examination:

Please refer to Web Advisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

There is no required text for this course. 

Recommended Texts:

Students are encouraged to make use of texts and other material on reserve in the library on two-hour loan.

Lab Manual:  

A blank hard cover note book will be provided to each student team. Each team of two students is expected to keep this hard covered laboratory note book up to date, and record their methodology and maintain a concise record of the data and observations they make on an ongoing basis. This laboratory notebook will be the property of the instructor and the university and it will be kept in the Bovey Bldg. but available to the team during the laboratory periods.  

Other Resources:  

Selected OMAFRA fact sheets may be provided or referenced by either the instructor or students who are presenting specific topics to the class. There are numerous industry, provincial, and federal publication in Canada that are also available online that might be  identified as suitable background reading for special topics but there is no set, required reading list at this time.  Similarly numerous foreign publications are available online and these too may be identified during lectures and laboratory periods when it is timely and appropriate to do so.

Field Trips:

At this time a visit to a research facility on campus and/or a selected commercial site is being arranged. The timing is TBA.

Additional Costs:  

Closed-toe shoes are required in the greenhouse area. 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.

Course Policy on Group Work:

As indicated above both the final written assignment including the final laboratory reports are to be submitted individually.

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

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