Vegetable Crop Production and Management (HORT 471/571)

Course Description

Welcome to HORT 471/571. This course is designed to provide you with an introduction to vegetable crops and the theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience required for successfully producing them. We will be spending most of our time learning the elements of successful vegetable production including the what, where, when and how of growing specific crops. Topics will include crop classification; planting methods; crop climatic conditions, physiological growth and development; soil, water, and pest management; organic production; cover cropping; crop rotation; season extension strategies; postharvest handling/management and marketing. Course involves visits to vegetable production sites in Iowa to observe/experience and learn from growers and entrepreneurs in the field of vegetable production. Laboratory section of the course will provide an opportunity to grow a variety of vegetables in a heated greenhouse; conduct experiments; observe and/or operate equipment for field production. It is expected that upon completion of the course, students would be able to put into practice what they have learned. For students seriously considering entering a vegetable production business, internship (paid) opportunities could be provided through collaboration with vegetable growers in surrounding areas of Ames.


  • to prepare students to successfully grow vegetables for commercial vegetable production

  • to describe the climate and soil requirements needed for raising good quality vegetable crops

  • to be able to identify seed, plant characteristics, important pests of the major vegetable crops

  • to define specific growth processes of each crop studied that leads to a harvestable product

  • to analyze and interpret data through greenhouse and lab experimentations

Class schedule:
Monday and Wednesday, 8:00am to 8:50am
Lab: Wednesday 3:10pm to 6pm

Required field trips:
We will have at least two required field trips during the year.

Required text:
Producing Vegetable Crops by John M. Swiader & George W. Ware, Interstate Publishers, Inc., Danville, Illinois, 5th edition

Other interesting reads:
Vegetable Crops, Dennis R. Decoteau, Prentice-Hall, Inc., NJ
Knott's Handbook for Vegetable Growers, Donald N. Maynard and George J. Hochmuth, 4th Edition

Online resources with required reading:

Course Outline

  • Introduction to vegetable crops – Vegetable classification, production statistics, and current markets.

  • Location and size of the vegetable industry

  • Production and management

  • Soil management

  • Fertilization practices, composts

  • Tillage, cover cropping, weed management

  • Crop rotation

  • Irrigation practices and techniques (includes hydroponics)

  • Integrated Pest Management

  • Postharvest handling/storage

  • Marketing opportunities

Specific Crops

  • Asparagus

  • Cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower)

  • Solanaceae crops (eggplant, pepper, potato, tomato)

  • Bulb crops (celery, garlic, onion)

  • Vine crops (cucumber, melon, pumpkin, squashes, zucchini)

  • Salad greens (spinach, lettuce, kale, collard, chard)

  • Root crops (beets, carrots, radish, turnip,)

  • Other: peas, rhubarb, snap beans, sweet corn

Independent/group Project. This is an opportunity for you to explore in more detail some aspect of vegetable production of particular interest to you, and to share that information with the class. Details provided in the laboratory handout