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Red Light

Red Light

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Plant Science Topics:

 

-Photosynthesis

-Leaf expansion

-Germination

-Night interruption of long-day plants to induce flowering

-Day extension of short-day plants to prevent flowering

 

Recommendations to Apply the Science:

 

-Grow large soft leaves on lettuce and herbs

-Improve seed germination for certain varieties

-Speed up flowering time

-Night interruption techniques to keep plants vegetative

 

Product References:

 

-Solar System 550

-Sunburst HPS

-Phantom DE HPS

-Active Aqua Stand, Light Hanger, Low Profile Legs, and Flood Tables

 

 

The two colors that contribute the most to photosynthesis are blue and red. Episode 4 was blue, and we saw that blue does a lot more than power photosynthesis. Well, in this episode we’ll explore the influence of red light, and it also does a lot more than power photosynthesis.

 

In Episode 5 I mentioned how effects of blue light can be counteracted by green light. Well the effects of red light can be counteracted, or even reversed by far-red light.

 

In this episode I try to focus on red light but it is almost impossible to talk about red without including far-red in the discussion.

 

The balance of these two colors has a huge influence on plant growth, starting at germination.

 

Plant Mystery! One difference in germination conditions between seeds on left and right side. Got any guesses? Hint: Seeds shown from top to bottom are lettuce mix, tulsi/holy basil and toothache plant (Acmella oleracea)

 

#toothacheplant #paracress #sechuanbutton #buzzbuttons #tingflowers #electricdaisy #tulsi #holybasil #lettucemix #germination #plantpuzzles

 

It’s light, more specifically red light on right and far-red light on left! Some seeds require light to germinate… the plant pigment phytochrome regulates germination in some varieties (like those shown) and the pigment is sensitive to both red and far-red light. Red light promotes germination but far-red light can inhibit/reverse that process. This is a photoreversible phytochrome regulated process.


 

For some crops, like lettuce, germination is ‘photoreversible’. The plant pigment, phytochrome, which absorbs both red and far red light, can either promote or inhibit germination based on the color of light it receives. When it sees red light it signals a process that promote germination, but when it sees far-red it can reverse that process. Here’s a few examples of how light treatments affect germination.

Red light, germinate.

Far Red light, poor germination.

Red light then dark, germinate.

Far red then dark, poor germination.

Red, then far red, then dark, poor germination.

Far red, then red, than far red again, poor germination,

But far red, then red, then far red, then red, good germination.

So. it’s the last color that the plant sees that aff

 

Regulating germination is just one of the photoreversible responses induced by phytochrome. Phytochrome regulates all kinds of responses from seed to flower. After germination, if phytochrome receives red light it can promote leaf unrolling, it can also inhibit stem elongation, or it can affect flowering by influencing photoperiodic responses, like we saw in episode 2. But most of these responses are really looking at the ratio of red to far-red. We’ll dig deeper into the red to far-red ratio in the next episode, I’d rather focus on the red to blue ratio. Increasing the amount of red light relative to blue can increase stem elongation, as we see here with basil, and it can affect leaf size, which we can clearly see with these lettuce.


So that’s some of the science, but what of all of that is useful to growers, what’s the real world application. One of them is controlling photoperiodic responses, like we saw in episode 2 with red light. Another could be controlling stem elongation by manipulating the ratio of red to far red, a grower can get a shorter plant by increasing red relative to far red. Or stem elongation could be manipulated with red and blue, by increasing blue relative to red. For me, red light is first and foremost a great color for powering photosynthesis. And there are a lot of grow light options that are great at generating red light. Red LEDs are the most efficient LED, they produce light more efficiently than blue or white LEDs. HPS lights are also a good option for adding red light. They’ve been used by growers for decades and have proven their ability to grow great plants, and with the development of newer doubled-ended HPS grow lights, they’ve become more efficient. I really like growing leafy greens under HPS or a tunable LED fixture like this, that can provide a lot of red light, not only to get big leaves, but the texture of leaves is different. It’s softer, oh so soft. For more info on horticultural light check out FarmerTyler.com. This has been Episode 6 of Plants & Light, next we’ll go further, or far-ther on our trip through the spectrum, with far Red light.  I’m Farmer Tyler, and the more you know, the better you grow.