Patterson Greenhouses is a successful vine crop grower located in Broadway, North Carolina. In business since 1998, the company is known for highly flavorful, pesticide-free tomatoes. Owner Ryan Patterson is always on the lookout for ways to increase yields without having to add greenhouse space.
Our goal is to grow more produce in the space we have. That’s why we decided to bring in supplemental lighting. We looked at other lighting companies, but LumiGrow had the best customer service and we like to buy American.
As an agriculture expert and president of the North Carolina Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association, Patterson knew that supplemental lighting for his greenhouses was the most sensible way to achieve his goal. After researching the available options, he determined that LumiGrow LEDs were the smartest choice in supplemental lights.
Why Supplemental Lighting?
Greenhouse plants use the sun for their lighting needs; what could possibly improve on that? Under perfect conditions, nothing. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. In an average greenhouse, the infrastructure alone blocks up to 50 percent of sunlight. Even if a greenhouse is situated on the equator, plants aren’t able to take advantage of all the light available. Move away from the equator into more temperate areas and the yearly change of seasons eventually brings us around to winter which means short days and, often, inclement weather that further limit available light.
According to Patterson, he chose LEDs, and LumiGrow in particular, for a couple of reasons. One important consideration is that tomatoes are relatively tall plants. LEDs don’t produce as much heat as other forms of lighting so they are much less likely to burn the crops as they reach full height. Costs, of course, are always a factor, and LEDs win there as well. The cost of using LumiGrow lights in one of Patterson Greenhouses three bays is approximately two dollars per pound of produce. Other lighting systems can cost as much as 70 percent more. When the lights are on 14 to 16 hours per day, that adds up quickly.
Concerns about burned plants and energy costs weren’t the only factors, however. The company picked LumiGrow over any other horticultural LED manufacturer because of its knowledgeable sales and technical services teams.
Patterson Greenhouses chose to equip each of its three large bays with supplemental lighting in stages. This allows a direct comparison of production using lights versus just the sun alone. During the most recent harvest, which was part of a winter production cycle, plants that were lit averaged a yield of 10.6 pounds versus 8.5 pounds using the sun alone. This was achieved even after the lit plants started from a deficit.
Perhaps even more compelling to growers who want to maximize the number of cycles they can complete in a year, is the decrease in the time it took to go from seedling to harvest. Less vigorous seedlings were planted in the lighted bay four days after healthier seedlings were moved to the unlit bay, yet the plants in the lit bay were harvested ten days earlier than those relying solely on sunlight. Decreasing time to harvest by two plus weeks is a result any grower would be pleased to see.
Patterson Greenhouses is currently planning on installing lighting in the remaining two bays as well.