Effects of temperature on basil growth: some like it hot!

Philips researches all aspects that make up the ideal light recipe for a particular crop. But, did you know that we also study a much broader range of factors to come up with the ideal growth recipe? This means that besides LED growing lights, we look at climate, CO₂, nutrients and substrates to see how we can make them work together most effectively. In this blog I’ll tell you more about the major role that temperature plays in the storage life and yields of basil.

Top performer

Basil, often called the king of herbs, is one of the classic crops that performs very well in a vertical farm. It can be grown year-round in a vertical farm where much higher yields can be achieved compared to a standard greenhouse application. Basil can be grown hydroponically on coco coir, rockwool or mats.

Nurmitarhat Basil
GrowWise Basil

A global favorite

Originally from India, basil is frequently used in Asian as well as Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh cut basil is highly valued by consumers across the globe and can be grown year-round in a vertical farm or city farm. We have tested several different varieties ranging from Thai and lemon basil to African Blue basil and a range of common Genovese cultivars. They all have very different flavors and characteristics and the breadth in taste and smell is staggering!

The ideal growth recipe for basil

We recently ran a series of experiments to establish a good growth recipe for basil. Philips Horticulture LED Solutions is a lighting supplier and investigating the effects of light on crop growth is one essential aspect of our research. To find a light recipe that achieves a certain set of desired crop characteristics as efficiently as possible, we often start by testing the performance of a crop under different light regimes (spectrum, intensity, day light hours). In this experiment, we broadened our research to also look at other aspects that influence plant growth and we call the combination of these factors a “growth recipe”. 

Faster growth or longer shelf life

One of the most influential growth parameters for basil is temperature. Therefore, we grew a series of basil varieties under different temperatures, ranging from 22°C to 30°C. With every increase in temperature, we saw higher productivities (grams per mole). At the same time, however, the shelf life of the end product went down. This means a good growth recipe for basil will need to balance growth speed and shelf life and will greatly depend on how the end product will be sold. For instance, basil for pesto can be grown very quickly because its shelf life is not as important, whereas basil plants grown for fresh cut stems will need to be grown at somewhat more conservative temperature regimes.

Getting the best of both worlds

In the future we will look at how we can combine faster growth and long shelf life. One approach might be applying a pre-harvest treatment to achieve both faster growth and long shelf life. Our experiments never focus on growth alone.

Thijs van den Bergh

Thijs van den Bergh is a Plant Specialist at Philips lighting. He is located at the GrowWise Research Center. His work focuses on setting up and carrying out trials aimed at developing growth recipes to efficiently grow crops with desired characteristics. He carries out research on light, cropping systems, climate and nutrients for a wide range of crops. In this series of articles, Thijs shares the latest results from growing trials carried out in a multi-layer growing environment without any daylight.

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