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Ultraviolet Radiation Management in Greenhouse to Improve Red Lettuce Quality and Yield

The intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation affects the yield and quality of red lettuce. The current study aimed to develop a UV management system in a greenhouse to achieve high yield and quality in red lettuce production. The study consisted of two experiments. In the first experiment, the effects of the different UV transparencies of the plastic materials covering the greenhouse on plant growth and the concentration of antioxidants in red lettuce were studied. For this purpose, two greenhouses were covered with polyethene of different transparencies to UV radiation. One greenhouse was covered with a common type of polyethene transparent in a large spectrum of UV radiation (UV-open), while the second greenhouse was covered with polyethene untransparent to ultraviolet radiation (UV-block). The plants were grown in a deep flotation hydroponic system. At the end of the cultivation, plant growth measurements, leaf colour measurements, and the determination of antioxidant components’ concentration were carried out. Red lettuce plants harvested 42 days after planting had an average head weight 42% greater in the UV-block greenhouse compared to plants grown in the UV-open greenhouse. However, the red leaf colour of plants in the UV-block greenhouse lagged significantly compared to that in the UV-open greenhouse. Moreover, the total phenolic content, the total flavonoid content, and the antioxidant capacity of the lettuce leaves in the UV-block greenhouse were significantly lower compared to the corresponding values of the plants in the UV-open greenhouse. During the second experiment, a new cultivation system of red lettuce, which combined a UV-block polyethene film as a greenhouse cover and a pre-harvested supplemental UV light, was tested. For this purpose, various doses of supplemental UV lighting were tested in the UV-block greenhouse for ten days prior to harvest. From these tests, it emerged that applying supplemental UV lighting with a dose of 425 kJ m−2 d−1 for ten days before harvest produces red lettuces of the same quality as those produced in a UV-open greenhouse. This technique of growing red lettuce increases its yield by 30% without a negative effect on the quality of the product.

Publication date: 06/10/2022

Author: Ioannis Lycoskoufis

Reference: doi: 10.3390/agriculture12101620



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 1914.