Allegro Acres Chapter 2:
the science behind growing quality winter peppers at scale

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In the first chapter of our Allegro Acres story, we explained the process for installing our smart LED lighting solution in a large pepper greenhouse for winter production, a Canadian first. Growers know well that peppers are difficult to cultivate using artificial lighting, even outside the winter season. Following the successful harvests of winter peppers right from the start, we can now share our agronomists’ observations.

Programming natural light

Sunlight does not work “on” and “off” like a light switch. Thanks to our SUN as a Service® platform, Sollum’s technology comes closest to natural light because it can be adjusted on an infinite continuum of what nature does best over days, weeks, and months. Not only does it manage light intensity, but it dynamically calibrates lighting along the full spectrum of the Sun’s natural light. We call it programmability and we do it like nobody else: using sunlight as our reference, our solution programs light spectra like one tunes the sound of a guitar, rather than operating on fixed increments. That’s why we say we are LED by nature™.

The many benefits of Sollum’s programmability

We started by working with Allegro Acres and scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Harrow Research and Development Centre to determine the light recipe best suited to pepper production and the location of the greenhouse. Throughout the growing season, crop registration was done to monitor multiple crop parameters and optimize plant growth by adjusting their lighting accordingly. And it is not just a matter of better taste, size, and appearance, but of crop yield as well.

For an eight-week period during production, far-red was added to the spectrum at different periods of the daily light cycle to increase internode length in the pepper plant. Why? This prevented the crop morphology from remaining too compact, which would negatively impact fruit development and ease of crop manipulation. With short internodes, it becomes difficult if not impossible for workers to manage the canopy without damaging the crop. Without far-red, a grower cannot stretch internodes as needed.

In addition, far-red promotes apical dominance in the crop, which means that the main stem overtakes side shoots and makes it easier for workers to identify which side shoots to pinch off. Far-red also promotes leaf expansion, which reduces canopy density and ensures that developing peppers are sufficiently shaded.

And as easy as it was to add far-red to the light spectrum, it was just as easily removed once far-red served its purposes to ensure that the crop’s resources were redirected back to fruit development and generative processes.

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