Snack cucumber grower expands to full course of LEDs

Nov. 12, 2021
Dutch farming operation Kwekerij Verhoeven worked with Signify to hone the light recipe while also implementing GrowWise controls.

A Dutch grower that specializes in cultivating snack cucumbers has decided to make a full meal of LED lighting after sampling the technology in a portion of its greenhouse.

Kwekerij Verhoeven is in the process of installing Signify LED luminaires and controls across 2.1 hectares at its greenhouse in Prinsenbeek.

The company, which according to Signify was the first ever to grow snack cucumbers starting “years ago,” subsequently developed a taste for LEDs in 2017 when it began trialing the technology.

“At the time, nobody had any experience with using LEDs to grow cucumbers, not even research facilities,” Kwekerij Verhoeven owner Ad Verhoeven said. (“Kwekerij” means “nursery” in Dutch).

The three or four years that followed included a few lessons on how to properly illuminate snack cucumbers, which as the name suggests are small cucumbers intended for snacking.

Related article: Signify supplies Russian vegetable farms with LED toplighting and interlighting

“It turned out that snack cucumbers require a very specific light recipe to ensure full production in the darkest months,” he noted.

Through a mix of science and, presumably trial and error, the grower worked with Signify to fine-tune the spectrum to what is now considered optimal.

This was very educational for both parties,” said Signify plant specialist Erik Stappers. “Many experiments were done, and we learned a lot about the effects of different recipes and light intensities, measuring numerous parameters meticulously. It was a matter of time before the right combination came to the surface.”

That time has come. Together, the two outfits deduced that they should add “a hint of green light and far-red light” to the usual combination of red and blue.

The new mix “allows crops to stretch further so their leaves can catch more light,” Verhoeven said.

Related article: Canadian cucumber grower keeps the LED lights low – to the ground, that is

Thanks to this improved build-up of the crop, winter production is clearly higher and the quality of the fruit is super,” he added. “Now we can realize a constant production of top quality year-round.”

Verhoeven is confident enough in the new recipe to go ahead with a full installation of Signify’s Philips GreenPower toplights, which it controls with a Signify GrowWise control system.

The companies did not quantify how many toplights Signify is installing, or how many were already in place.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.