Shinsuke Agehara, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, is studying how to manipulate hops’ photoperiod with artificial lighting in order to lengthen the daytime in Florida. Agehara spoke about this project at the Fruit Crop Management Short Course in early November.
Hops are mostly grown in Northwest states like Washington and Oregon. This region is said to have the ideal environment for hops to grow, mostly due to appropriate daytime length. Hops need more than 15 hours of daylight during the early season, and less than 15 hours of daylight in the late season. When the daytime is longer than 15 hours in the early season, only vegetative growth is stimulated, and the crop does not flower. Once the daytime length drops below 15 hours in the late season, flowering will start to occur. Agehara says the daytime lengths are important because it is beneficial to maximize vegetative growth before flowering occurs.
Although some circumstances of Florida’s climate work to grow hops successfully, the daylight hours are not long enough. The maximum daytime length in Tampa, where Agehara’s hops plots are located, is 13 hours and 46 minutes. Agehara says this is why Florida hops are not as productive as those in the Northwest.
Now, Agehara is working on solving this problem in Florida using LED lights. The LED lights are hung at the top of the trellises, so they hang over the plants. When the daylight begins to fade, the LED lights are turned on to trick the crop into thinking it is still daytime.
Agehara began this study in early November, so no substantial results have been recorded yet.
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