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  • Author or Editor: Anthony C. Percival x
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Electric lighting is often necessary to achieve a target daily light integral (DLI) for the production of high-quality young annual bedding plants (plugs). Early in production, plugs have a low leaf area index that limits light interception and likely results in wasted radiation supplied by electric sources. Previous research has shown that the addition of far-red radiation (700–780 nm) to the radiation spectrum in sole-source lighting experiments or the use of end-of-day far-red (EOD-FR) radiation treatments can promote an increase in leaf expansion and leaf area for many species. However, leaf expansion in response to far-red radiation may depend on other factors such as the ratio of red (600–699 nm) to far-red radiation (R:FR) and air temperature. Thus, the objectives of this work were to examine the effects of far-red radiation applied throughout the photoperiod and as an end-of-day radiation treatment on the morphology of petunia ‘Dreams Midnight’ seedlings grown under different temperature conditions. Specifically, petunia seed was sown in 128-cell trays and moved to one of two growth chambers set at 16 or 21 °C when cotyledons unfolded. Seedlings received an equal total photon flux density (400–780 nm) of 164 µmol·m−2·s−1 for a 17.25-hour photoperiod, and either a high (∼10.7) or low R:FR (0.5). Low R:FR-treated seedlings were grown at a constant temperature of either 16 or 21 °C and placed under blackout conditions at the end of the photoperiod. High R:FR-grown seedlings received either a 1-hour end-of-day white (EOD-W) or EOD-FR treatment at the end of the photoperiod, and were grown at a constant 16 or 21 °C; one EOD-FR treatment was also shifted from the 21 °C chamber to the 16 °C at the end of the photoperiod for both the EOD-FR treatment and subsequent dark period. Seedlings were harvested at 21 and 28 days after treatment initiation. For petunia seedlings grown at 21 °C, EOD-FR treatments had minimal effect on morphology or dry mass as all measured parameters, including total and average leaf area and stem length, were similar to EOD-W treatments. In contrast, low R:FR-treated seedlings showed responses characteristic of plants grown under shade, including significant stem elongation, an increase in total and average leaf area, and a reduction in leaf mass per unit area. As expected, production at 16 °C slowed the growth of petunia seedlings resulting in much smaller plants compared with the 21 °C grown plants, but shade responses such as elongated leaves and stems under a low R:FR were apparent. The EOD-FR–treated seedlings that received the diurnal temperature shift also showed reduced leaf area and dry mass compared with their constant 21 °C counterparts. Shade responses were observable at both 16 and 21 °C for low R:FR-grown plants, but the quantifiable impact of temperature on far-red responses could not be fully determined in the present study. Further research is warranted investigating crop responses to far-red radiation as well as potential interacting environmental factors as the promotion of morphological responses, such as leaf expansion, early in production may prove a useful strategy.

Open Access

Greenhouse production of high-quality young annual bedding plants (plugs) at northern latitudes often requires supplemental lighting to compensate for a low natural daily light integral (DLI), but radiation interception by plugs is limited by a low leaf area index. Some species show an increase in leaf area in response to growth under a low ratio of red to far-red radiation (R:FR), and an early increase in leaf area may allow for more effective radiation capture by seedlings and a reduction in wasted radiation. Thus, the objective of this study was to examine the effects of end-of-day far-red (EOD-FR) radiation treatments varying in intensity, R:FR (600–700 nm/700–780 nm), and duration on early leaf expansion and plug quality for petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) ‘Wave Purple’ and ‘Dreams Midnight’. Seedlings were grown in 128-cell trays in a common greenhouse environment under a simulated winter DLI (∼5.3 mol·m−2·s−1) and received one of four EOD-FR treatments, control conditions (no EOD-FR or supplemental lighting), or supplemental lighting (target photosynthetic photon flux density of 70 μmol·m−2·s−1). The EOD-FR treatments were provided for 3 weeks on cotyledon emergence and included the following: 10 μmol·m−2·s−1 of far-red radiation for 30 minutes with a R:FR of ∼0.8 (EODFL), 10 or 20 μmol·m−2·s−1 of far-red radiation for 30 minutes with a R:FR of ∼0.15 (EOD10:30 and EOD20:30, respectively), or 20 μmol·m−2·s−1 of far-red radiation for 240 minutes with a R:FR of ∼0.15 (EOD20:240). Destructive data were collected 14 and 21 days after cotyledon emergence. Seedlings that received EOD-FR treatments did not show any increase in leaf area compared with control or supplemental lighting treatments. Stem length generally increased under EOD-FR treatments compared with supplemental lighting and control treatments; greater elongation was observed when the R:FR decreased from 0.8 to 0.15, and when treatment duration increased from 30 minutes to 240 minutes. However, at a R:FR of 0.15 and a treatment duration of 30 minutes, an increase in far-red radiation intensity from 10 to 20 μmol·m−2·s−1 did not promote further stem elongation resulting in similar stem lengths for both cultivars under EOD10:30 and EOD20:30. Results of this study indicate that under low DLIs, EOD-FR radiation applied in the first 3 weeks of seedling production does not promote early leaf area expansion, and generally decreases seedling quality for petunia. As responses to far-red radiation may vary based on study taxa, incident radiation, and DLI, future research examining EOD-FR–induced morphological changes is warranted.

Open Access