'It never gets boring'
One of the biggest looming questions for growers is how they can get the most out of the significant investment it takes to upgrade to LEDs in their greenhouses.
There’s no question the lights lead to long-term savings in energy and money, but they can also help growers start earning more money more quickly. LEDs can accelerate plant growth, reduce time to harvest and accentuate features that are most attractive to florists and consumers, meaning more profits for growers.
So before spending the capital to convert their greenhouses to LED lighting, then, growers want to understand which light “treatments,” or colors, are best for them and their flowers. That is, growers want to know how to use which LEDs to provide the best, fastest-growing crops.
“We want to provide the growers the information they need to take those next steps,” says Caleb Spall, an MSU graduate research assistant working on specialty cut flowers and a recipient of the 2021 Dave Dowling Scholarship from the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Spall is working with Lopez to test and understand the effects of different LED treatments in MSU’s research greenhouses.
“This is the most fun study I’ve worked on so far,” says Spall as he navigates between greenhouse compartments, showing off different flowers along the way: stock, snapdragons and godetia.
Godetia is also known as farewell-to-spring, which feels slightly more appropriate now, touring the greenhouse in April, than it did when Spall started these experiments in January. And winter’s snowy, chilly conditions are part of what drew Spall to this project.