Biomass Production and Pigment Accumulation in Kale Grown Under Different Radiation Cycles in a Controlled Environment
Controlled plant growing systems have consistently used the standard earth day as the radiation cycle for plant growth. However, the radiation cycle can be controlled using automated systems to regulate the exact amount of time plants are exposed to irradiation (and darkness). This experiment investigated the influence of different radiation cycle periods on plant growth and carotenoid accumulation in kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala DC.). Plants were grown in a controlled environment using nutrient solutions under radiation cycle treatments of 2, 12, 24 and 48 hours, with 50% irradiance and 50% darkness during each cycle. The radiation cycles significantly affected kale fresh weight, dry weight, percent dry matter, and the accumulation of lutein, ß-carotene, and chlorophyll a and b. Maximum fresh weight occurred under the 2-hour radiation cycle treatment, whereas maximum dry weight occurred under the 12-hour treatment. Maximum accumulation of lutein, ß-carotene, and chlorophyll a occurred with the 12-hour radiation cycle at values of 14.5 mg/100 g, 13.1 mg/100 g, and 263.3 mg/100 g fresh weight respectively. Maximum fresh weight production of the kale was not linked to increases in chlorophyll, lutein, or ß-carotene. Consumption of fruit and vegetable crops rich in lutein and ß-carotene carotenoids is associated with reduced risk of cancers and aging eye diseases. Increased carotenoid concentrations in vegetable crops would therefore be expected to increase the value of these crops.
Lefsrud, Mark G., Kopsell, Dean A. Biomass Production and Pigment Accumulation in Kale Grown Under Different Radiation Cycles in a Controlled Environment. HortScience 2006 41: 1412-1415