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Vitacress

Increasing Shelf Life and Negating Chill Damage of Basil

Application: Greenhouse

Crop type: Basil, Coriander, Lemon Balm, Oregano, Parsley

Vitacress is a UK-based company growing potted plants and herbs in a 14 hectare (34 acres) grow operation in Chichester, West Sussex. Having to cope with colder winters, they were looking for a way to improve the performance of basil plants and better acclimate them to colder, seasonal weather. Extending the shelf life and increasing the chill tolerance using LED lighting treatments enabled Vitacress to deliver a better, longer-lasting and higher quality product.

What was really impressive was that we found that by changing the ratio of far-red and red, Vitacress could get the basil plants to actually be chill tolerant. By shining this different ratio of LED lights on basil for a period of time, we significantly extended the shelf life of our potted plants in the retail stores.

Chris Moncrieff, Production Director, Vitacress

They understood that there was something going on on a cellular level within the leaf, and decided to team up with Royal Holloway University in London. The goal was to find out what happened with the basil and try to change how the plant behaved in colder environments.

To be able to continue their trials they needed an adjustable lights source with the capability to change spectrum and set programmable light strategies throughout the day. By changing the wavelengths during end-of-line-treatment they were able to trigger changes in cell structure and the results came instantly.

After talking to a number of LED suppliers, Vitacress decided on Heliospectra’s intelligent light solution the LX602C - a 600 Watt, high intensity, fully programmable LED Grow Light.

We talked to a number of LED suppliers but it was really Heliospectra that gave us the most confidence about being able to develop the lights going forward. They didn't just give us an ‘off the shelf’ unit and that’s all we get, but Heliospectra gives us an opportunity to really develop that further.

Simon Budge, Agronomist, Vitacress

“What was really impressive was that we found that by changing the ratio of far-red and red, Vitacress could get the basil plants to actually be chill tolerant. By shining this different ratio of LED lights on basil for a period of time, we significantly extended the shelf life of our potted plants in the retail stores,” said Chris Moncrieff, Production Director.

And this is just the beginning for Vitacress, the future looks bright:

”The ability to change the way that the plants form and behave seems to be unlimited we already know that blue light is giving amazing results and far-red and red is achieving some shelf life performance benefits as well, so what else will we see in the future? We are very excited about it and looking forward to it immensely”