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Celina Gómez and James Robbins

The decline in the availability of pine (Pinus taeda L.) bark (PB) supplies and increasing prices have caused concerns in the nursery industry. Research was conducted to evaluate the effect of parboiled rice (Oryza sativa L.) hulls (PBH) as a substrate amendment to PB-based container substrates on the growth of Spiraea ×bumalda L. ‘Anthony Waterer’ and to examine the changes in physical properties of the substrates during long-term production cycles under outdoor nursery conditions. Six substrates were formulated by blending PB with 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, or 100% PBH (by volume). Substrate composition affected plant growth components evaluated, generally decreasing growth as the amount of PBH increased. However, amending PB with up to 40% PBH did not result in a significant decrease in plant growth or increase the volume or frequency of irrigation for container-grown spirea. Physical properties of substrates amended with PBH improved over time. Based on these results, PB-based substrates amended with up to 40% PBH retained physical properties that were generally within current guidelines for nursery container substrates after one (25 weeks) and two (70 weeks) growing seasons.

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Celina Gómez and Cary A. Mitchell

Seedlings of six tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) cultivars (‘Maxifort’, ‘Komeett’, ‘Success’, ‘Felicity’, ‘Sheva Sheva’, and ‘Liberty’) were grown monthly for 2-week treatment periods to determine photomorphogenic and developmental responses to different light-quality treatments from supplemental lighting (SL) across changing solar daily light integrals (DLIs). Seedlings were grown in a glass-glazed greenhouse at a midnorth latitude (lat. 40° N, long. 86° W) under one of five lighting treatments: natural solar light only (control), natural + SL from a 100-W high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamp, or natural + SL from arrays of red and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) using 80% red + 20% blue, 95% red + 5% blue, or 100% red. Varying solar DLI occurred naturally for all treatments, whereas constant DLI of 5.1 mol·m−2·d−1 was provided for all SL treatments. Supplemental lighting increased hypocotyl diameter, epicotyl length, shoot dry weight, leaf number, and leaf expansion relative to the control, whereas hypocotyl elongation decreased when SL was applied. For all cultivars tested, the combination of red and blue in SL typically increased growth of tomato seedlings. These results indicate that blue light in SL has potential to increase overall seedling growth compared with blue-deficient LED SL treatments in overcast, variable-DLI climates.

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Celina Gómez and Cary A. Mitchell

The relative coolness-to-touch of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) has enabled commercial implementation of intracanopy lighting (ICL) in the greenhouse. Intracanopy lighting, which refers to the strategy of lighting along the side or from within the foliar canopy, can increase canopy photosynthetic activity, but physiological and productivity responses of high-wire greenhouse tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) to intracanopy supplemental lighting (SL) still are not yet fully understood. Two consecutive production experiments were conducted across seasons in a glass-glazed greenhouse located in a midnorthern, continental climate [lat. 40°N (West Lafayette, IN)]. Plants were grown from winter-to-summer [increasing solar daily light integral (DLI)] and from summer-to-winter (decreasing solar DLI) to compare three SL strategies for high-wire tomato production across changing solar DLIs: top lighting with high-pressure sodium lamps (HPS) vs. intracanopy LED vertical towers vs. hybrid SL (HPS + horizontal ICL-LEDs). A control treatment also was included for which no SL was provided. Supplemental DLI for each experimental period was adjusted monthly, to complement seasonal changes in sunlight, aiming to approach a target total DLI of 25 mol·m‒2·d‒1 during fruit set. Harvest parameters (total fruit fresh weight, number of fruit harvested, and average cluster fresh weight), tissue temperature, chlorophyll fluorescence, and stomatal conductance (g S) were unaffected by SL treatment in both experiments. Among the physiological parameters evaluated, CO2 assimilation measured under light-saturating conditions, light-limited quantum-use efficiency, and maximum gross CO2 assimilation (A max) proved to be good indicators of how ICL reduces the top-to-bottom decline in leaf photosynthetic activity otherwise measured with top lighting only (HPS-SL or solar). Although SL generally increased fruit yield relative to control, lack of SL treatment differences among harvest parameters indicates that higher crop photosynthetic activity did not increase fruit yield. Compared with control, intracanopy SL increased yield to the same extent as top SL, but the remaining photoassimilate from ICL most likely was partitioned to maintain nonharvested, vegetative plant parts as well.

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Michael P. Dzakovich, Celina Gómez and Cary A. Mitchell

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are an attractive alternative to high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps for plant growth because of their energy-saving potential. However, the effects of supplementing broad-waveband solar light with narrow-waveband LED light on the sensory attributes of greenhouse-grown tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are largely unknown. Three separate studies investigating the effect of supplemental light quantity and quality on physicochemical and organoleptic properties of greenhouse-grown tomato fruit were conducted over 4- or 5-month intervals during 2012 and 2013. Tomato cultivars Success, Komeett, and Rebelski were grown hydroponically within a high-wire trellising system in a glass-glazed greenhouse. Chromacity, Brix, titratable acidity, electrical conductivity (EC), and pH measurements of fruit extracts indicated plant response differences between lighting treatments. In sensory panels, tasters ranked tomatoes for color, acidity, and sweetness using an objective scale, whereas color, aroma, texture, sweetness, acidity, aftertaste, and overall approval were ranked using hedonic scales. By collecting both physicochemical as well as sensory data, this study was able to determine whether statistically significant physicochemical parameters of tomato fruit also reflected consumer perception of fruit quality. Sensory panels indicated that statistically significant physicochemical differences were not noticeable to tasters and that tasters engaged in blind testing could not discern between tomatoes from different supplemental lighting treatments or unsupplemented controls. Growers interested in reducing supplemental lighting energy consumption by using intracanopy LED (IC-LED) supplemental lighting need not be concerned that the quality of their tomato fruits will be negatively affected by narrow-band supplemental radiation at the intensities and wavelengths used in this study.

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Michael P. Dzakovich, Celina Gómez, Mario G. Ferruzzi and Cary A. Mitchell

In addition to photosynthesis, light is a critical mediator of secondary metabolism in plants, signaling the production of potentially health-promoting phytochemicals and regulating the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can alter the sensory perception of a tomato. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a viable way to test the effects of individual wavebands of light and are being quickly adopted by the greenhouse tomato industry. However, studies characterizing the effects of specific wavelengths of light or supplemental lighting on phytochemical content in general are lacking. We hypothesized that enriching the amount of supplemental blue and/or red light that tomatoes receive would positively affect the amount of carotenoids and phenolic compounds that accumulate in tomato fruits through cryptochrome and/or phytochrome-dependent signaling pathways. To test this hypothesis, we compared the chemical and sensory characteristics of tomatoes grown with overhead high-pressure sodium (OH-HPS) lamps to those grown with intracanopy (IC)-LEDs emitting different ratios of red, blue, and far red light. Tomatoes were profiled for total soluble solids, titratable acidity, ascorbic acid content, pH, total phenolics, and prominent flavonoids and carotenoids. Our studies indicated that greenhouse tomato fruit quality was only marginally affected by supplemental light treatments. Moreover, consumer sensory panel data indicated that tomatoes grown under different lighting treatments were comparable across the lighting treatments tested. Our research suggests that the dynamic light environment inherent to greenhouse production systems may nullify the effects of wavelengths of light used in our studies on specific aspects of fruit secondary metabolism.

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Celina Gómez, Robert C. Morrow, C. Michael Bourget, Gioia D. Massa and Cary A. Mitchell

Electric supplemental lighting can account for a significant proportion of total greenhouse energy costs. Thus, the objectives of this study were to compare high-wire tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) production with and without supplemental lighting and to evaluate two different lighting positions + light sources [traditional high-pressure sodium (HPS) overhead lighting (OHL) lamps vs. light-emitting diode (LED) intracanopy lighting (ICL) towers] on several production and energy-consumption parameters for two commercial tomato cultivars. Results indicated that regardless of the lighting position + source, supplemental lighting induced early fruit production and increased node number, fruit number (FN), and total fruit fresh weight (FW) for both cultivars compared with unsupplemented controls for a winter-to-summer production period. Furthermore, no productivity differences were measured between the two supplemental lighting treatments. The energy-consumption metrics indicated that the electrical conversion efficiency for light-emitting intracanopy lighting (LED-ICL) into fruit biomass was 75% higher than that for HPS-OHL. Thus, the lighting cost per average fruit grown under the HPS-OHL lamps was 403% more than that of using LED-ICL towers. Although no increase in yield was measured using LED-ICL, significant energy savings for lighting occurred without compromising fruit yield.

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Celina Gómez, Christopher J. Currey, Ryan W. Dickson, Hye-Ji Kim, Ricardo Hernández, Nadia C. Sabeh, Rosa E. Raudales, Robin G. Brumfield, Angela Laury-Shaw, Adam K. Wilke, Roberto G. Lopez and Stephanie E. Burnett

The recent increased market demand for locally grown produce is generating interest in the application of techniques developed for controlled environment agriculture (CEA) to urban agriculture (UA). Controlled environments have great potential to revolutionize urban food systems, as they offer unique opportunities for year-round production, optimizing resource-use efficiency, and for helping to overcome significant challenges associated with the high costs of production in urban settings. For urban growers to benefit from CEA, results from studies evaluating the application of controlled environments for commercial food production should be considered. This review includes a discussion of current and potential applications of CEA for UA, references discussing appropriate methods for selecting and controlling the physical plant production environment, resource management strategies, considerations to improve economic viability, opportunities to address food safety concerns, and the potential social benefits from applying CEA techniques to UA. Author’s viewpoints about the future of CEA for urban food production are presented at the end of this review.