Field Production of Horticultural Crops (HORT 376)

Course Description:

Prereq: HORT 221 or AGRON 114

Principles and practices of field production of commercial horticultural crops, with emphasis on fruit and vegetable systems. Topics include site selection, soil fertility, irrigation setup and management, equipment and tools, integrated pest management, season extension strategies, postharvest technologies and handling, food safety, marketing, and basic business planning for fruit and vegetable enterprises.

Overall Outcomes:  After successfully completing the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify proper tools, techniques, and management practices for the production of field grown specialty crops
  • Use current research-based information to design sustainable horticultural field production systems
  • Apply best practices in food safety and postharvest techniques of field-grown fruits and vegetables
  • Effectively communicate and demonstrate working in teams to solve problems posed through case studies, and global examples

Specific Outcomes (based on course modules):

  • Appraise sites and explain criteria needed for site selection including soil type, fertility, and soil amendments needed in specialty crop production
  • Identify equipment needs and proper tools for horticultural crop production
  • Demonstrate how to use of high tunnels in season extension and how to manage them for high value fruit and vegetable production
  • Define irrigation systems and create a design for efficient irrigation in specialty crop production
  • Identify and evaluate various IPM strategies used in managing pests in specialty crop production
  • Demonstrate how to use food safety techniques, GAP’s and postharvest technology and handling to meet government regulations and provide high quality and safe fruits and vegetables for human consumption
  • Differentiate specialty crop markets and evaluate markets for varying scale of production
  • Explain business planning for a specialty crop enterprise and write a basic business plan
  • Examine career options in specialty crop production and identify opportunities in industry, government, academia, and nonprofit organizations.

Credits:  3

Class Meeting Times/Locations:

The class lecture period is 12:40-2:00 T TH


Dr. Ajay Nair

Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture

145 Horticulture Hall

Office Phone: 515-294-7080


Office Hours:

Office hours are available by appointment.  Please contact the instructors via e-mail to set up an appointment.  When you write, please include days and times that you are free that week.  We welcome assisting you in any way. 

Optional Text

  1. Knott’s Handbook for Vegetable Growers, Fourth edition. Donald N. Maynard and George J. Hochmuth.
  2. Postharvest technology of Horticultural crops, Third edition. 2002. A. A. Kader Technical Editor. Publication 3311. The University of California. Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Oakland, CA. 535 pp.
  3. Temperate Zone Pomology. 3rd Edition. Westwood, M.N. 1993. Timber Press, Inc, Portland, Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-253-6.

Additional Required Reading Materials:

The instructor and guest instructors may provide information about topics or additional written materials or video for your reading/viewing. Any required reading/viewing is subject to be included on the examinations. Parks Library will have a class website that links credible information sources. 

Attendance and Class Participation:

The lecture is designed to provide significant interactive learning experiences. Thus, attendance and class participation are required. Class attendance will be recorded for each class.

If an emergency exists and you need to miss a class, please contact Dr. Nair prior to the class period.  E-mail and phone messages are logged as to date and time, as well as contacting any secretary in Room 106 Horticulture Hall (294-1916).  It is strongly recommended that individuals experiencing flu symptoms (including fever, aches, cough/congestion, and stomach systems) stay at home, and away from others to decrease the likelihood of spreading the virus.  Please communicate when you need to miss class so that it is an excused absence.


Students will be placed into nearly equal groups for the class.  Your group will complete in- and out-of-class assignments as a team.  Examples of assignments include discussions, summaries, presentations, and other assignments given in class, including case studies.


Assignments are to be completed by the beginning of the lecture period on the due date.  If the assignment is turned in late, the grade is reduced by 5% for each day late.  If you have an excused absence, please submit the assignment before class or before the next class if your excused absence doesn’t allow you to hand in the assignment.


Examinations typically will comprise a combination of a few multiple choice questions, with primarily short-answer and discussion questions. Some lecture periods will include a quiz using clickers.  


Academic Accommodation Procedures:

Students with Disabilities:

Iowa State University is committed to assuring that all educational activities are free from discrimination and harassment based on disability status. All students requesting accommodations are required to meet with staff in Student Disability Resources (SDR) to establish eligibility.  A Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form will be provided to eligible students. The provision of reasonable accommodations in this course will be arranged after timely delivery of the SAAR form to the instructor.  Students are encouraged to deliver completed SAAR forms as early in the semester as possible.  SDR, a unit in the Dean of Students Office, is located in room 1076, Student Services Building or online at  Contact SDR by e-mail at or by phone at 515-294-7220 for additional information. 

Religious Accommodations:

If an academic or work requirement conflicts with your religious practices and/or observances, you may request reasonable accommodations. Your request must be in writing, and your instructor or supervisor will review the request. You or your instructor may also seek assistance from the Dean of Students Office or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.

Discrimination and Harassment:

Iowa State University strives to maintain our campus as a place of work and study for faculty, staff, and students that is free of all forms of prohibited discrimination and harassment based upon race, ethnicity, sex (including sexual assault), pregnancy, color, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, or status as a U.S. veteran. Any student who has concerns about such behavior should contact his/her instructor, Student Assistance at 515-294-1020, or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance at 515-294-7612.

Academic Dishonesty:

HORT 376X will follow Iowa State University’s policy on academic dishonesty. Anyone suspected of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Students Office. Academic dishonesty occurs when a student uses or attempts to use unauthorized information in the taking of an exam; or submits as his or her own work themes, reports, drawings, laboratory notes, or other products prepared by another person; or knowingly assists another student in such acts or plagiarism. If academic dishonesty is suspected, the instructor and/or TA are obligated to report it to the University. Such behavior is abhorrent to the University, and students found responsible for academic dishonesty face expulsion, suspension, conduct probation, or reprimand.


Classroom Etiquette:

Professional student behavior and respect/civility are expected for all lecture and activity sessions.

Student behavior and interactions affect your and other students’ learning.  Be sure to follow classroom etiquette and civility requests.  Be respectful of students’ learning needs, such as not talking or using other disruptive actions in class; follow instructions carefully; turn off your cell phone unless of an emergency and then inform the instructor prior to the class period; and use respect and courtesy to others - allowing for an excellent learning environment.

Lectures will begin on time unless of an unforeseen incident for the instructor(s).  Please arrive to the class on time so as not to disrupt the other students and class.  If you know that you might be late due to a previous class that is located far away on campus, or will need to depart early because of an emergency, please inform the instructor(s) so that arrangements may be made for your seating.

Professional Development:

While at the university, you have a chance to develop skills in professionalism. This is an opportunity to develop appropriate work-place behaviors likely to ensure your success in a future career.  Professionalism also is central to your success in HORT 376X.  This course, like most jobs, expects the following:

  1. Accountable and Responsible;

    1. Attend all classes and think about your learning while in class.  Punctual attendance, preparation and paying attention to the lessons in class is mandatory and reflected in your grade.   Communicate with the instructors in advance if an emergency exists and you will miss class.
    2. Keep on time:  assignments completed ON-TIME (reliable)
    3. Engagement / participation in class

      1. Read all materials provided, including book chapters, articles, etc.   
      2. Review Powerpoint presentations, take notes and write summaries of presentations and readings in your own words and outlines. 
      3. Finish assigned readings PRIOR to the class where you are to be engaged with that information.
      4. Complete and submit assignments on time and in accordance with instructions.
      5. Participate in class discussions – your participation is valued and also reflected in your grade.  Pay attention during class and make connections between information provided in class, other course materials, and presentations by guests and peer students.
      6. Actively listen and actively discuss; and, allow everyone the chance to participate in a discussion.

  2. Honest

    1. Assignments (truthful in work – no plagiarism, cheating, etc.)

  3. Cooperative (Team Work)

    1. Assists, enthusiastic, prepared, reliable, collaborates, helpful, resolves disagreements, open-minded, supportive.

  4. Courteous and Respectful (to student peers and instructors)

    1. Demonstrates positive attitude, polite, attentive, communicates.
    2. Treat each other with respect as you learn together.

  5. Conscientious and Honorable

    1. Responsible for personal performance
    2. Put meaningful and mindful efforts into your work to enhance your learning and achievement.  Personally evaluate and track your efforts and achievement. 



Course and instructors:

Course and instructor evaluations will be conducted during the last week of the semester by the using course and instructor evaluation forms.

Student Evaluation:

Your grade for the class will be determined by the following percentages:


Evaluation:                                                                                                   % of Course Grade


A.  Professional development, attendance, etc. . . . . . .                                                    10


B.  Examinations (three) . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                60


C.  Team Case studies, quizzes, assignments, worksheets, readings. . . . . . . . .               30


Total                                                                                                                                 100%


Final course grades will be assigned on a scale no more challenging than the following:



93 or higher






















59.9 or less