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The UV Factor: What’s Missing From Your Grow Room? Featured

UV light can provide your crop with a flavor boost. UV light can provide your crop with a flavor boost.


Ultraviolet light, or the invisible purplish part of the light spectrum that sparked the invention of sunscreen, is making its way back into the indoor garden. I say “back” because some of the old school growers out there remember the days when flowering rooms were lit by uncovered metal halide bulbs.

Way back then, before HPS became readily available and there were no UL listings associated with metal halide bulbs, growers were actually getting more UV-B light in their gardens than many of today’s modern growers.

Now, I am not saying the quality of produce or the efficiency in production was better back then or even close to what it is today. I am saying that growers of essential oil producing, high-value crops could be robbing themselves of heightened flavor, aroma, and quality by not supplementing UV-B.

Over 90% of today’s growers use HPS for their flowering stage, if not for their entire growing cycle. HPS emits a spectrum that is near void of UV-B light. The majority of growers using metal halide bulbs use glass in their reflectors, which actually works as a UV-B filter, removing a good portion of UV-B light emitted by a MH bulb.

Growers of high-value crops understand the important role plant-specific spectrums play in the growth and yield of a garden.

It has been shown that many high-value crops will increase overall essential oil production when they receive supplemented UV-B light. Scientists believe some plants create essential oils as a protectant from harmful UV-B rays.

By supplementing UV-B light to your plants you could increase the production of these essential oils, especially early in the flowering stage when the oils first form. It is also believed that the concentration of particular compounds contained within the essential oils can increase with supplemented UV-B. This is also thought to be a result of that particular compound acting as a protectant against UV-B.

So what is the best way to get UV-B into your garden?

If you are operating HPS bulbs, the safest and least expensive way to add UV-B into your garden is to purchase reptile or aquarium specific UV-B bulbs. Not only are these relatively inexpensive, but you don’t need a lot – just enough to supplement 1-2 watts per square foot of garden space.

Run them in conjunction with your normal light cycle. If you are comfortable operating a metal halide without glass in the reflector you could go that route to get UV-B light to your plants. Many growers claim good results with 1 MH to every 2 HPS but I have always preferred a 1:1 ratio.

The light is the driving force behind the performance of any indoor garden. Growers of high-value crops understand the important role plant-specific spectrums play in the growth and yield of a garden. The UV factor is taking plant specific spectrums to another level. We are now beginning to understand the important roles light spectrums play in the plant’s essential oil production and particular compounds contained therein. The more we understand, the more we can tailor specific light spectrums to match the intent of the grower and further evolve the way we cultivate indoors.

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Here’s some science related to UV light.
Last modified on Monday, 21 January 2013 20:45

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