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A trial with cucumber cultivation under full LED lighting

Marcel van Koppen, the cucumber crop coordinator at Rijk Zwaan. In his position, he is the linking pin between breeding and sales and in that capacity, he is constantly looking at what the market wants. He and Rijk Zwaan have conducted some trials with LEDs by Hortilux, and the results they got are quite interesting to dive into.

The trial: looking for maximum production
Rijk Zwaan, a leading breeder of fruit and vegetables, conducted a trial between October 19 and April 6 to optimize the production of long cucumbers. The objectives were ambitious:

  • High winter production: More than 10 pieces per m2 per week
  • Average fruit weight: 385 grams
  • Reference variety: Skyview

The trial took place in the Rijk Zwaan Trial Center High Tech (TCHT) in De Lier, which opened in 2022. Various varieties were grown on an area of ​​approximately 1,100 m2, with a lot of attention paid to creating optimal growing conditions for cucumbers, but in such a way that they correspond with growers' practices. Marcel: "Growers must recognize themselves in how we grow here. Moisture control, for example, is an important part of this. There are no fewer than four air mixers on the small surface area. This high number allows them to run at a lower speed to prevent too much 'wind' and thus any stress." They also started growing under 327 µmol PAR full LED lighting from Hortilux with a special cucumber spectrum consisting of blue, red, green and far-red.

Marcel: "That optimal light distribution is important because so many different varieties are grown in such a small space. To make a good comparison and achieve the best-growing conditions for your crop, you want everything to be as uniform as possible in every place in the greenhouse. This optimal light distribution is the result of the Wide optics specially developed by Hortilux, which is also used on their brand new NXTLED fixture."

Surprising results: more than expected
The trial exceeded all expectations. The cultivation performed above average and insights from the trial offer opportunities for further optimization, resulting in even more kilos per m2. The following notable findings were made:

  • Far-red stimulates vegetative growth: The addition of far-red resulted in larger leaves, more light interception and more vegetative growth, which proved to be particularly beneficial for the more "difficult" varieties, such as snack cucumbers.
  • Significant production increase: An average production of 91 kg and 230 pieces per m2 was achieved within this cycle.

Marcel van Koppen is very satisfied with the results: "The trial confirms the enormous potential of LED lighting for cucumber cultivation. The combination of our expertise in breeding and that of Hortilux in LED lighting has led to excellent and promising results. We are already looking to the next steps, where we want to achieve these good results using less energy. For example, we want to heat with geothermal heat and actively dehumidify. But there is no doubt that LED is already a significant step in the right direction."

Hortilux will be at the Greentech to showcase their shiny LEDs. Find them at GreenTech Amsterdam 2024 - stand(s):05.224.

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