Basil is a popular genus in the mint family (Lamiaceae) with more than 30 species currently identified (Simon et al., 1999) and a constantly increasing number of cultivars (Paton, 1992). Basil species and cultivars vary widely in their characteristics, such as flavor, plant appearance, and architecture. There are several uses for basil, including essential oil production (Wogiatzi et al., 2011), use as an ornamental plant in landscapes (Morales and Simon, 1996), as a cut flower (Dole and Wilkins, 2005), and as a culinary herb (Simon et al., 1999). Among these different uses, basil is most commonly used as a culinary herb (Simon et al., 1999). Sweet basil is the most commonly cultivated basil species for culinary use, though lemon basil and holy basil are also produced for consumption and use in cooking (Juntachote et al., 2006; Morales and Simon, 1997).
Culinary basil can be grown outdoors or in controlled environments. Although the demand for fresh produce such as basil has increased (Wolf et al., 2005), year round production in colder climates is only possible in controlled environments. Research has been conducted on field production of basil (Sifola and Barbieri, 2006), but there are areas of hydroponic greenhouse basil production yet to be fully researched. There are several hydroponic systems frequently employed in greenhouse production of various food crops including dutch buckets, slab and bag culture, NFT, and DFT (Fenneman et al., 2013). The two most prevalent types of hydroponic systems used for leafy crops such as basil are NFT and DFT systems (Fenneman et al., 2013; Hochmuth and Cantliffe, 2014; Jensen, 2002; Morgan, 2005).
We have found no peer-reviewed research quantifying the growth of numerous basil species and cultivars produced in different hydroponic systems. Similarly, we have found no research comparing NFT and DFT systems for basil production. This comparison could be useful tool to aid hydroponic producer’s decision-making process. The objectives of our research were to quantify and characterize growth of basil species and cultivars grown in NFT and DFT hydroponic systems.
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