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Light spectra and root stocks affect response of tomatoes

Plant biomass and yield are largely dictated by the total amount of light intercepted by the plant (daily light integral (DLI)—intensity × photoperiod). It is more economical to supply the desired DLI with a long photoperiod of low-intensity light because it uses fewer light fixtures, reducing capital costs. Furthermore, heat released by the light fixtures under a long photoperiod extended well into the night helps to meet the heating requirement during the night.

However, extending the photoperiod beyond a critical length (>17 h) may be detrimental to production and lead to leaf chlorosis and a reduction in leaf growth and plant vigor in greenhouse tomato production. It is known that red light can increase leaf growth and plant vigor, as can certain rootstocks, which could compensate for the loss in plant vigor and leaf growth from long photoperiods. Therefore, this study investigated the response of tomatoes grafted onto different rootstocks to a long photoperiod of lighting under red and other light spectra. Tomato plants ‘Trovanzo’ grafted onto ‘Emperator’ or ‘Kaiser’ were subjected to two spectral compositions—100% red or a mix of red (75%), blue (20%), and green (5%) light for 17 h or 23 h. The four treatments supplied similar DLI.

Leaf chlorosis appeared in all plants under 23 h lighting regardless of spectral compositions between 20 and 54 days into the treatment. The yield for 23 h mixed lighting treatment was lower than both 17 h lighting treatments. However, the 23 h red lighting treatment resulted in less leaf chlorosis and the plants grafted onto ‘Emperator’ produced a similar yield as both 17 h lighting treatments. Therefore, both spectral compositions and rootstocks affected the response of greenhouse tomatoes to long photoperiods of lighting. With red light and proper rootstock, the negative yield impact from long photoperiod lighting can be eliminated.

Read the complete research at

Lanoue, Jason & Thibodeau, Alyssa & Little, Celeste & Zheng, Jingming & Grodzinski, Bernard & Hao, Xiuming. (2021). Light Spectra and Root Stocks Affect Response of Greenhouse Tomatoes to Long Photoperiod of Supplemental Lighting. Plants. 10. 10.3390/plants10081674. 

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