Effects of Supplemental Light on Growth, Photosynthesis, and Carbohydrates Synthesis in the Leaves of Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) Grown under Different Greenhouse Covering Materials

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  • 1 1Horticultural Research Centre, Pav. Envirotron. FSAA, Laval Univ., Ste-Foy, Que., Canada, G1K 7P4
  • | 2 2Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Harrow, Ont., Canada N0R 1G0

Most experiments on the effects of cover materials on greenhouse crops have provided no real statistical replication for the cover materials. This study was conducted in Winter 1996 at the Harrow Research Centre (Ontario) in nine minihouses covered with glass (single-glass), D-poly (double inflated polyethylene film), and acrylic (rigid twin acrylic panel) offering a 3 × 3 latin square experimental design. Tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) were grown in CO2-enriched atmosphere (1000 ppm) under three covering materials, and two light treatments (natural light, and supplemental light at 65 μmol·m–2·s–1) in order to determine the effects of supplemental light on growth, photosynthesis, reproductive carbon allocation, and evolution of carbohydrates synthesis in the diurnal cycles. Overall, the application of supplemental light increased photosynthesis rate, yields, harvest index, total chlorophyll content, and starch accumulation in all treatments, regardless of the type of cover materials. Early marketable yield in acrylic and D-poly houses was higher than in glasshouses. Plants grown under enhanced light intensity flowered earlier and produced 12% more marketable fruits than those grown under natural light. The photosynthetic rate of plants grown in acrylic houses was higher than that of plants grown in glasshouses and those grown in D-poly. The leaves of plants grown in acrylic and D-poly houses had higher dry mass contents and much higher specific leaf weight (>10%) than plants in glasshouses. The net photosynthesis dropped after 3 months of treatment, accompanied by a high accumulation of carbohydrates in the leaves. These results indicate that a photosynthetic acclimation occurs earlier during the growth period suggesting a limitations in carbon metabolism.

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