Meyers Farms has been in business for over 50 years growing potted plants, cut flowers and tender fruit. They are a third-generation family farm located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. They originally started out growing and selling fruit and vegetables, and have since expanded into ornamental greenhouse production of bedding and potted plants and outdoor cut flower production. With over 24 acres of greenhouse space, they sell to major retailers across Canada and the United States.
Meyers Farms grows a wide range of bedding plants for spring sales along with seasonal favourites such as fall chrysanthemums and holiday poinsettias. Since many of their plants are grown using unrooted cuttings or direct sticking, having a quick turn around time in propagation is important for ensuring their crops are ready in time and are being grown within an appropriate time frame.
In 2018, vice-president and third generation grower Aron Hoff, started a trial in their propagation greenhouse, comparing LED to HPS luminaires, in hopes of speeding up crop times and bulking up plants. They had problems growing during the winter months (November to February) due to the low light levels, and these off-season months are important for ornamental and bedding production since many crops are started in January and February for sales in the spring. The low light levels led to slower growth rates, consequently increasing production time. They wanted to test the growth of the crops and see if there were any noticeable differences between the two luminaire technologies before moving ahead with any larger installations. Being limited by the electrical output at the facility, they were initially interested in how the LEDs would perform because of their low energy use.
Using lights in propagation is important, because it helps to speed up crop times, allowing plants to move out quicker as well as helping to produce healthy plants with strong root systems. Both trial areas had instantaneous light intensity levels (PPFD) at 85 umol/m2/s. For the trial, they installed one bay with P.L. Light Systems’ HortiLED Top luminaires, and in the adjacent bay they installed our NXT-2 luminaires with high pressure sodium lamps.
After several months of trialing, they found that crops grown under LED or HPS luminaires yielded similar results. They both achieved greater plant mass along with faster crop times allowing the plants to quickly cycle out, freeing up space in propagation for more plants. This result was ideal, as they are limited by the amount of electricity they can use in the building, making LEDs a smarter choice for any additional light installations. It also demonstrates how you can achieve similar results in propagation using either LED or HPS luminaires. Besides helping reduce crop times for propagation, they achieved other results with other crops as well. When we visited in November, they were growing calibrachoa under both the HPS and LED luminaires. Usually this isn’t a crop that would be grown in the low light, cold months but for a special order they had thousands of plants that were being grown and had to be shipped with flowers. Having placed the plants under the lights helped to induce flowering and create strong, bushy plants even in off season months.