Greenhouse crop production in northern countries often relies heavily on supplemental lighting for year-round yield and product quality. Among the different spectra used in supplemental lighting, red is often considered the most efficient, but plants do not develop normally when grown solely under monochromatic red light (“red light syndrome”). Addition of blue light has been shown to aid normal development, and typical lighting spectra in greenhouse production include a mixture of red and blue light. However, it is unclear whether sunlight, as part of the light available to plants in the greenhouse, may be sufficient as a source of blue light. In a greenhouse high-wire tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), we varied the percentage of blue supplemental light (in a red background) as 0, 6, 12, and 24%, while keeping total photosynthetically active radiation constant. Light was supplied as a mixture of overhead (99 μmol m-2 s-1) and intracanopy (48 μmol m-2 s-1) LEDs, together with sunlight. Averaged over the whole experiment (111 days), sunlight comprised 58% of total light incident onto the crop. Total biomass, yield and number of fruits increased with the addition of blue light to an optimum, suggesting that both low (0%) and high (24%) blue light intensities were suboptimal for growth. Stem and internode lengths, as well as leaf area, decreased with increases in blue light percentage. While photosynthetic capacity increased linearly with increases in blue light percentage, photosynthesis in the low blue light treatment (0%) was not low enough to suggest the occurrence of the red light syndrome. Decreased biomass at low (0%) blue light was likely caused by decreased photosynthetic light use efficiency. Conversely, decreased biomass at high (24%) blue light was likely caused by reductions in canopy light interception. We conclude that while it is not strictly necessary to add blue light to greenhouse supplemental red light to obtain a functional crop, adding some (6–12%) blue light is advantageous for growth and yield while adding 24% blue light is suboptimal for growth.
- LED, biomass, blue light, red light, photosynthesis, tomato, greenhouse, yield