Light-emitting diodes allow for the application of specific wavelengths of light to induce various morphological and physiological responses. In lettuce (Lactuca sativa
), far-red light (700–800 nm) is integral to initiating shade responses which can increase plant growth. In the first of two studies, plants were grown with a similar photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) but different intensities of far-red light. The second study used perpendicular gradients of far-red light and PPFD, allowing for examination of interactive effects. The far-red gradient study revealed that increasing supplemental far-red light increased leaf length and width, which was associated with increased projected canopy size (PCS). The higher PCS was associated with increased cumulative incident light received by plants, which increased dry matter accumulation. In the perpendicular gradient study, far-red light was 57% and 183% more effective at increasing the amount of light received by the plant, as well as 92.5% and 162% more effective at increasing plant biomass at the early and late harvests, respectively, as compared to PPFD. Light use efficiency (LUE, biomass/mol incident light) was generally negatively correlated with specific leaf area (SLA). Far-red light provided by LEDs increases the canopy size to capture more light to drive photosynthesis and shows promise for inclusion in the growth light spectrum for lettuce under sole-source lighting.
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