Development of a more effective radiation source for use in plant-growing facilities would be of significant benefit for both research and commercial crop production applications. An array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that produce red radiation, supplemented with a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 30 μmol·s-1·m-2 in the 400- to 500-nm spectral range from blue fluorescent lamps, was used effectively as a radiation source for growing plants. Growth of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. `Grand Rapids') plants maintained under the LED irradiation system at a total PPF of 325 μmol·s-1·m-2 for 21 days was equivalent to that reported in the literature for plants grown for the same time under cool-white fluorescent and incandescent radiation sources. Characteristics of the plants, such as leaf shape, color, and texture, were not different from those found with plants grown under cool-white fluorescent lamps. Estimations of the electrical energy conversion efficiency of a LED system for plant irradiation suggest that it may be as much as twice that published for fluorescent systems.
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