5 Aug 2011

Higher UV light good for crops, research shows

7:35 am on 5 August 2011

New research suggests that vegetables grow better if they are exposed to UV light early in their life.

Traditionally, commercial vegetable growers use polytunnels or glasshouses to protect their crops from the sun when they are very young.

However, Massey University crop scientist Dr Jason Wargent says experiments in the UK with lettuces found that those exposed to ultraviolet light in the early stages of growth were more robust and had higher yields, suggesting growers should consider changing their growing practices.

Dr Wargent says the findings raise the question of what might happen if crops were pre-adapted to the high UV levels in New Zealand before they were planted in the field.

He says this could be a useful means of trying to increase the hardiness of crops when they are planted out.