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  • Author or Editor: Katherine Schiestel x
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A greenhouse study was undertaken to investigate whether light-emitting diode (LED) technology can be used to replace high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting for cut gerbera production during Canada’s traditional supplemental lighting (SL) season (November to March). The study was carried out at the University of Guelph’s research greenhouse, using concurrent replications of SL treatments within the same growing environment. LED (85% red, 15% blue) and HPS treatment plots were set up to provide equal amounts of supplemental photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) at bench level. This setup was used to assess the production of three cultivars of cut gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii H. Bolus ex Hook.f): Acapulco, Heatwave, and Terra Saffier. There were no treatment differences in SL intensity, with average SL photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) and daily light integral (DLI) of 55.9 µmol·m−2·s−1 and 2.3 mol·m−2·d−1, respectively. Flowers harvested from the LED treatment had a 1.9% larger flower diameter in ‘Acapulco’; 4.2% shorter and 3.8% longer stems in ‘Heatwave’ and ‘Terra Saffier’, respectively; and 7.7% and 8.6% higher fresh weights for ‘Acapulco’ and ‘Terra Saffier’, respectively, compared with flowers harvested from the HPS treatment. There were no differences in accumulated total or marketable flower harvests for any of the cultivars. The vase life of ‘Acapulco’ flowers grown under the LED treatment was 2.7 d longer than those grown under the HPS treatment, but there were no SL treatment effects on water uptake for any of the cultivars during the vase life trials. There were no SL treatment effects on specific leaf area for any of the cultivars. There were only minimal treatment differences in leaf, soil, and air temperatures. Cut gerbera crops grown with under LED SL had equivalent or better production and crop quality metrics compared with crops grown under HPS SL.

Free access

Intercropping can increase land use efficiency in high tunnel crop production, but it may also lead to decreases in yield and quality of main crops due to the potential competition for resources. This study evaluated the agronomic viability of intercropping snow pea (Pisum sativum L., ‘Ho Lan Dou’) with cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L. var. cerasiforme ‘Sarina hybrid’) without additional inputs of water and fertilizers on peas in an organic high tunnel production system under Southern Ontario climate conditions in Guelph, Ontario, Canada (lat. 43.5 °N, long. 80.2 °W) during 2015 and 2016. In each 80-cm-wide bed, the tomato crops were planted alternately in double rows spaced 30 cm apart, with in-row spacing of 110 cm, which resulted in a planting density of ≈24,000 plants/ha. The snow pea seeds were sown between the tomato plants (i.e., within the same beds as tomatoes) in holes (two seeds per hole), with four rows in each bed and in-row holes spaced 10 cm and at least 25 cm away from the tomato plants, which resulted in a seeding rate of ≈650, 000 seeds/ha. The same amount of water or fertilizer was applied to the intercropping and nonintercropping plots based on the needs of the cherry tomato plants. Plant growth, fruit yield, and quality were compared between tomato plants with and without intercropping. Intercropping with snow peas did not affect total marketable fruit yield, unmarketable fruit percentage, fruit quality traits (e.g., individual fruit weight, soluble solids content, dry matter content, and postharvest water loss), or early-stage plant growth of the cherry tomato. Therefore, it is at least an agronomical possibility to intercrop snow peas with cherry tomatoes on the same beds without additional inputs of water and fertilizer on snow peas in an organic high tunnel system. The additional yield of pea shoots or pods in the intercropping treatment also increased economic gross returns in the high tunnels, although the economic net return might vary with the costs of seeds and labor involved in snow pea growing.

Open Access

There is a potentially large market for locally produced organic bitter melons (Momordica charantia L.) in Canada, but it is a great challenge to grow this warm-season crop in open fields (OFs) due to the cool and short growing season. To test the feasibility of using high tunnels (HTs) for organic production of bitter melons in southern Ontario, plant growth, fruit yield and quality, and pest and disease incidence were compared among three production systems: OF, HT, and high tunnel with anti-insect netting (HTN) at Guelph in 2015. The highest marketable fruit yield was achieved in HTN (≈36 t·ha−1), followed by HT (≈29 t·ha−1), with the lowest yield obtained in OF (≈3 t·ha−1). Compared with OF, there were several other benefits for bitter melon production in HT and HTN: increased plant growth, advanced harvest timing, reduced pest numbers and disease incidence, and improved fruit quality traits such as increased individual fruit weight and size, and reduced postharvest water loss. In addition to higher yield, HTN had fewer insect pests and disease incidence compared with HT. The results suggest that HTs can be used for organic production of bitter melon in southern Ontario and regions with similar climates. Also, the addition of anti-insect netting to HTs is beneficial to production if combined with an effective pollination strategy.

Free access