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Supplemental LED growth light in remontant strawberry at high latitudes


BACKGROUND: To grow remontant strawberries at high latitudes in autumn is challenging because of short days and low light levels. Nevertheless, current day and night temperatures in Norwegian coastal areas up to 63 degrees N are normally sufficient for growth and fruit development till early October, and even higher temperatures can be expected in the future according to climatic scenarios, with potential to prolong the growing season. However, light would be a minimum factor. It is therefore of interest to examine the effects of providing supplemental light when photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) falls below critical level for development of high fruit quality. OBJECTIVE: To examine effects on fruit yield parameters, fruit tension, Brix° and arthropod numbers, in order to investigate the potential of LED lighting using diodes giving red and blue light, as a means to prolong the growing season at northern latitudes. METHOD: In this two-year study remontant strawberry cvs ‘Everest’ and ‘Rondo’ were grown in high polytunnels. Two LED lighting levels (LED100 and LED300) were applied from 7 Pm to 7 AM, whenever light intensity fell below 400 μmol m−2 s−1 from first week of September, and compared to ambient light (control). The LED300 was peaking at wavelengths of 460 nm and 660 nm, respectively blue and red, and the relation between blue and red light was 1 : 8; LED100 delivered similar wavelengths but the blue to red relation was 2 : 8. Fruit yield, soluble solids (Brix°), fruit firmness, temperature (°C), dew point (°C), and PAR light (μmol m−2 s−1) were recorded. The experimental design was block with four replications. The lamps were hung with the light source 40 cm above top of canopy, giving a PAR radiation at top of canopy of LED100 and LED300 of respectively 900 and 258 μmol m−2 s−1. RESULTS: LED improved fruit yield and quality, but more at 900 than at 258 μmol m−2 s−1. However, highest light level was probably beyond the saturation point for photosynthesis, at least in early morning and late evening and the last three weeks of the harvesting season, because of low temperatures. Some fruit yield was not harvested because of too low temperatures to achieve ripen fruits after mid-October. Arthropods were sampled from ‘Rondo’ leaves 2–3 times per season, and aphids, spider mites and predatory mites (introduced) were the most numerous groups. LED significantly decreased the number of spider mites in the autumn. CONCLUSIONS: LED lighting has potential as light source growing remontant strawberries in high polytunnels, when PAR radiation is below 400 μmol m−2 s−1. However, to benefit fully of the light it would be necessary to grow the plants in winter tunnels and add heating. That would increase the yields significantly compared with our results.