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  • Author or Editor: Chase Jones-Baumgardt x
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Low natural daily light integrals (DLIs) are a major limiting factor for greenhouse production during darker months (e.g., October to February in Canada). Supplemental lighting (SL) is commonly used to maintain crop productivity and quality during these periods, particularly when the supply chain demands consistent production levels year-round. What remains to be determined are the optimum SL light intensities (LIs) for winter production of a myriad of different commodities. The present study investigated the growth and yield of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L., ‘Black oil’), kale (Brassica napus L., ‘Red Russian’), arugula (Eruca sativa L.), and mustard (Brassica juncea L., ‘Ruby Streaks’), grown as microgreens, in a greenhouse under SL light-emitting diode (LED) photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) levels ranging from 17.0 to 304 μmol·m−2·s−1 with a 16-hour photoperiod (i.e., supplemental DLIs from 1.0 to 17.5 mol·m−2·d−1). Crops were sown in a commercial greenhouse near Hamilton, ON, Canada (lat. 43°14′N, long. 80°07′W) on 1 Feb. 2018, and harvested after 8, 11, 12, and 12 days, resulting in average natural DLIs of 6.5, 5.9, 6.2, and 6.2 mol·m−2·d−1 for sunflower, kale, arugula, and mustard, respectively. Corresponding total light integrals (TLIs) ranged from 60 to 188 mol·m−2 for sunflower, 76 to 258 mol·m−2 for kale, 86 to 280 mol·m−2 for arugula, and 86 to 284 mol·m−2 for mustard. Fresh weight (i.e., marketable yield) increased asymptotically with increasing LI and leaf area increased linearly with increasing LI, in all genotypes. Hypocotyl length of mustard decreased and hypocotyl diameter of sunflower, arugula, and mustard increased with increasing LI. Dry weight, robust index, and relative chlorophyll content increased and specific leaf area decreased in kale, arugula, and mustard with increasing LI. Commercial microgreen greenhouse growers can use the light response models described herein to predict relevant production metrics according to the available (natural and supplemental) light levels to select the most appropriate SL LI to achieve the desired production goals as economically as possible.

Open Access

Microgreens are specialty vegetables that contain human health-promoting phytochemicals. Typically, microgreens are cultivated in controlled environments under red and blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs). However, the impact of varying the proportions of these light qualities on the composition of diverse phytochemicals in indoor-grown microgreens is unclear. To address this problem, the levels of chlorophylls, carotenoids, ascorbates, phenolics, anthocyanins, and nitrate were examined in arugula (Eruca sativa L.), ‘Red Russian’ kale [Brassica napus L. subsp. napus var. pabularia (DC.) Alef.], ‘Mizuna’ mustard (Brassica juncea L.), and red cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata f. rubra) microgreens following cultivation under LEDs supplying varying proportions of blue light (5% to 30%) and red light (70% to 95%). Varying the proportion of blue light did not affect the extractable levels of total chlorophyll, total carotenoids, or nitrate in all four microgreen species. Generally, the levels of reduced and total ascorbate were greatest in arugula, kale, and mustard microgreens at 20% blue light, and a minor decrease was apparent at 30% blue light. These metabolite profiles were not impacted by the blue light percentage in red cabbage. Kale and mustard accumulated more total phenolics at 30% blue light than all other blue light regimens; however, this phytochemical attribute was unaffected in arugula and red cabbage. The total anthocyanin concentration increased proportionally with the percentage of supplied blue light up to 30% in all microgreens, with the exception of mustard. Our research showed that 20% blue light supplied from LED arrays is ideal for achieving optimal levels of both reduced and total ascorbate in all microgreens except red cabbage, and that 30% blue light promotes the greatest accumulation of total anthocyanin in indoor-grown Brassicaceae microgreens, with the exception of mustard.

Open Access

Indoor farming is an increasingly popular approach for growing leafy vegetables, and under this production system, artificial light provides the sole source (SS) of radiation for photosynthesis and light signaling. With newer horticultural light-emitting diodes (LEDs), growers have the ability to manipulate the lighting environment to achieve specific production goals. However, there is limited research on LED lighting specific to microgreen production, and available research shows that there is variability in how microgreens respond to their lighting environment. The present study examined the effects of SS light intensity (LI) on growth, yield, and quality of kale (Brassica napus L. ‘Red Russian’), cabbage (Brassica oleracea L.), arugula (Eruca sativa L.), and mustard (Brassica juncea L. ‘Ruby Streaks’) microgreens grown in a walk-in growth chamber. SS LEDs were used to provide six target photosynthetic photon flux density density (PPFD) treatments: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 μmol·m−2·s−1 with a photon flux ratio of 15 blue: 85 red and a 16-hour photoperiod. As LI increased from 100 to 600 μmol·m−2· s−1, fresh weight (FW) increased by 0.59 kg·m−2 (36%), 0.70 kg·m−2 (56%), 0.71 kg·m−2 (76%), and 0.67 kg·m−2 (82%) for kale, cabbage, arugula, and mustard, respectively. Similarly, dry weight (DW) increased by 47 g·m−2 (65%), 45 g·m−2 (69%), 64 g·m−2 (122%), and 65 g·m−2 (145%) for kale, cabbage, arugula, and mustard, respectively, as LI increased from 100 to 600 μmol·m−2· s−1. Increasing LI decreased hypocotyl length and hue angle linearly in all genotypes. Saturation of cabbage and mustard decreased linearly by 18% and 36%, respectively, as LI increased from 100 to 600 μmol·m−2·s−1. Growers can use the results of this study to optimize SS LI for their production systems, genotypes, and production goals.

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