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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 82 (1) 12-20 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2017/82.1.2
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2017 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Effects of blue and red LED lights on soilless cultivated strawberry growth performances and fruit quality

S. Nadalini1, P. Zucchi2 and C. Andreotti1
1Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Faculty of Science and Technology, 39100 Bolzano-Bozen, Italy
2Fondazione Edmund Mach, Technology Transfer Centre, 38010 San Michele all’Adige, Italy

The use of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for protected cultures is quickly growing during the last years. Recent researches have demonstrated that it is possible to use LEDs alone and in combination with other lighting systems to manipulate plant behavior, productivity and crop quality. Nevertheless, our knowledge on the use of single color LEDs to control plant growth and yield is still scarce. In our experiment, the effects of three different lighting systems (LED blue, LED red and fluorescence neon tubes as control) on soilless cultivated strawberry growth and fruit quality were evaluated. Results showed that LED blue light (400–500 nm) induced a higher biomass accumulation, especially at root and crown level. Moreover, LED blue treated plants showed a 25% enhanced fruit set that caused a relevant higher final yield (65 g plant-1) as compared to control and red LED treated plants (45 and 35 g plant-1 respectively). Fruit main quality traits were not modified by treatments, the only differences being in fruit color (blue and red LED treated strawberries showed a less saturated color) and anthocyanin concentration (lower level of pelargonidin-3-glucoside in both blue and red LED treated fruits as compared to the control ones). Based on these results we suggest that the use of blue light can be feasible to enhance yield, while maintaining fruit quality, in protected strawberry cultivation systems.

Keywords anthocyanins, growth chamber, single color light, phenolic compounds, strawberry quality

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • The use of LEDs delivering different light color alone or in combination with other light sources has been tested on different horticultural crops. Results are nevertheless contrasting as for plant performances and final fruit quality.
What are the new findings?
  • Blue LED light was found able to enhance fruit set and final yield of strawberry plants cultivated in growth chamber. The quality of LED-treated strawberries was within the standard of the cultivar for protected cultivation.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • The use of LEDs, especially the blue one, can be considered as an interesting tool to enhance productivity of strawberry cultivated under protected conditions. The way of LEDs use (alone or in combination with other light sources) and timing (phenophases) have to be further investigated prior to a commercial implementation of this lighting system.

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Received: 20 September 2016 | Accepted: 20 December 2016 | Published: 23 February 2017 | Available online: 23 February 2017

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