Diffuse greenhouse glass can increase the production and growth of several crops, by scattering the incoming direct sunlight, which results in a better and more homogeneous light distribution in the crop canopy. Tomato and bell pepper growers in Belgium tend to install low-haze diffuse glass with a double anti-reflection (AR) coating. These glass types have a limited diffuse effect but have a higher light transmission compared to standard float glass. Therefore, tomato growers often increase stem density to maximize light interception. However, a denser crop could counteract the positive effects of diffuse glass on the vertical light distribution. In this study, the effect of low-haze diffuse glass with an AR coating was evaluated for different cropping densities for tomato and bell pepper taking into account the vertical light distribution throughout the crop canopy. Tomato plants with two stem densities (3.33 and 3.75 stems.m−2
) and bell pepper plants (with only one stem density of 7.1 stems.m−2
) were evaluated in a greenhouse compartment with diffuse and reference float glass during a full growing season. For tomato, a significant production increase of 7.5% was observed under diffuse glass during the second half of the growing season but only for the low stem density. The benefit of diffuse glass appears most relevant during sunny clear skies and on the sun-side-facing rows of the crop. For bell pepper, no significant production increases were noted between regular float or diffuse glass, because a bell pepper crop is typically covered with thermal screens to prevent sunburn on the fruits during sunny days. The vertical light distribution and the usefulness of AR-coated diffuse glass depends on the crop type and should be optimized accordingly by altering the stem density, leaf pruning strategy, row orientation, or crop variety.
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