Ad Verhoeven was the first grower to cultivate snack cucumbers years ago and was the first cucumber grower in the world to install a full LED light installation in part of his company in 2017.
“At the time, nobody had any experience with using LEDs to grow cucumbers, not even research facilities,” Verhoeven said looking back. “However, we had faith that we could grow cucumbers under LED. It turned out that snack cucumbers require a very specific light recipe to ensure full production in the darkest months.”
Signify has developed a light recipe especially for the cultivation of snack cucumbers together with Kwekerij Verhoeven, resulting in the grower having decided that it is time to make the switch to a full LED installation this autumn. Signify will deliver a Philips GreenPower LED toplighting compact installation with the GrowWise control system, providing Ad Verhoeven high-quality lighting and fully automated control over the growth cycle and his growing facility in Prinsenbeek, the Netherlands. The new light installation will illuminate 2,1 hectares of snack cucumbers. The first phase has already been installed, and the second phase will follow this autumn.
Looking for the optimum together
After an elaborate evaluation, the grower and Signify came to the conclusion that further improvements should be possible, which is why, in 2017, they started exploring the optimal light recipe for snack cucumbers together. For three years, account manager Frank van Holsteijn and plant specialist Erik Stappers carried out extensive research in a specially designed trial-greenhouse at the company’s premises in Prinsenbeek.
“This was very educational for both parties,” according to 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.”
Key to the specific light recipe for snack cucumbers is the addition of a hint of green light and far-red light, in addition to the combination of red and blue light that is typically used. “The latter allows crops to stretch further so their leaves can catch more light,” said Verhoeven. “Thanks to this improved build-up of the crop winter production is clearly higher and the quality of the fruit is super. Now we can realize a constant production of top quality year-round. I am very pleased with the way in which Signify has handled this. We worked together very constructively, and the result is impressive.”
On top of adjusting the composition of the light, Verhoeven can realize a higher light level while keeping his electricity usage the same as before. Additionally, connecting the lights to the Philips GrowWise control system provides him control over the light intensity and helps to optimize the electricity management of the entire company.
“All-in-all it has proven to be a win-win situation for both parties”, the grower concludes satisfied. “I honestly believe that I now have the best installation available today. Thanks to extensive research, both Signify and myself have a great deal of new knowledge and experience on full LED in cucumber cultivation. That knowledge is very valuable to us both.”
“Supporting food availability through horticulture LEDs illustrates our commitment to supporting good health and wellbeing (SDG3). It is key to our commitment to doubling the percentage of our revenues for brighter lives, which benefit society up to 32%. This is part of our Brighter Lives, Better World 2025 program, which was launched in September 2020,” the Signify team stated.