CAN (ON): University of Guelph launches courses for commercial cannabis growers

Cannabis growers from commercial professionals to home enthusiasts are the target of a new online course to be launched this fall at the University of Guelph.

“Cannabis Production” will be offered beginning this September as part of a new cannabis specialization in U of G’s existing horticulture certificate program. A second course in cannabis regulations and quality assurance will also begin in January with registration opening in September.

The Cannabis Production course is already full with 60 students enrolled for the fall.

Both courses will draw upon leading research expertise in aspects of cannabis production developed by U of G faculty members.

The new offerings will be among only a few cannabis production courses available so far at universities and colleges in Canada, said Marjory Gaouette, manager, program development with Open Learning and Educational Support.

Referring to federal legalization of cannabis in 2018, Gaouette said, “In the past year, we’ve had a significant increase in people calling, looking for courses.”

Both courses will be geared to commercial growers looking to enter the expanding cannabis industry or to upgrade their skills, as well as home growers.

The inaugural Cannabis Production course will be designed and taught by Brandon Yep, a master’s student in the School of Environmental Sciences (SES).

He will teach growing basics, including lighting and irrigation systems, growing media, pest and disease management, and post-harvest curing and packaging. The course will also discuss aspects of botany, cannabis history, the growing Canadian industry and medical uses of the plant.

Yep said he designed the course using extensive and longstanding University research in general horticulture, plant agriculture and indoor growing in greenhouses and controlled environments. In cannabis specifically, research teams led by SES professors Youbin Zheng and Mike Dixon have published several recent groundbreaking studies on aspects of plant production.

Those investigations make U of G a leader in applying research rigour and expertise to a largely unstudied field, said Yep.

Referring to numerous untested growing practices developed by home growers before legalization, he said, “This course will clarify fact from myth and provide scientifically backed information on cannabis production.”

For his graduate degree supervised by Zheng, Yep studies ways to improve aquaponics, a novel method for growing plants indoors. The system collects waste from fish grown in aquaculture and provides that waste to bacteria. Those bugs break down the material and make its nutrients available to plants grown hydroponically.

Aquaponics is used by Green Relief, a company in Puslinch, Ont., that produces cannabis for medical uses. Yep has worked part-time with the firm for three years.


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