Double the growth of your plants with LED lights

There is no doubt that LED lighting has been a turning point in the development of indoor growing techniques, but a recent study carried out at the John Innes Centre in Norwich (UK) shows that it is possible to reduce the growing time of some cereals by half.

The importance of fast-growing crops

Several studies reveal that given the increase in world population, changes in consumption habits, etc. crop production needs to double, globally, to meet the demand generated in 2050.

crop yield trends
Crop yield trends according to 2013 study.*

On the other hand, current yield trends reveal an insufficient increase in production to meet future demand. In view of this situation, the most advisable option is to develop new techniques to increase yields without having to increase crop extension.

LED lights for fast cereal cultivation

To test the influence of lighting on the growth speed of these plants, several studies were carried out in greenhouses working simultaneously.

LED grow lights are the most widely used option
An LED spotlight for home cultivation

The growing environment is based on a kind of greenhouse that forms a fully controlled environment adjusted to the following parameters:

  • Regulated temperature (22ºC during the hours of light and 17ºC during the hours of darkness).
  • LED lighting adjusted to optimize the photosynthesis process.
  • 22 hours of light per day.
  • Simulation of sunrise/sunset with 1:30h duration.
  • Relative humidity at 70%.

The results could not be more promising. In a conventional field, it is usual to obtain between two and three harvests per year depending on the type of cereal. In the accelerated growth greenhouse, some varieties were harvested up to six times in one year.

fast-growing crops

On the other hand, there was a space with control crops where no measures were applied, as well as others with various configurations such as high-pressure sodium vapor lamps. The latter proved to be totally ineffective given the low quality of the light they emit and the high heat they generate.

Is there a downside to this technique?

The first question that may arise is whether doubling the growth rate of these crops could have negative consequences. The main fears were to obtain weak plants that would hardly produce any seeds. The reality is totally different, the plants that develop under these conditions have a more vigorous growth and, in fact, show a healthier appearance than those grown under conventional environments.

What are the advantages of accelerated cultivation with LEDs?

Clearly, the most important application is to be able to increase the yield of crop fields used to feed people and animals.

From a more technical point of view, these types of advances allow new varieties to be designed and studied over several generations of plants in a shorter period of time. In this way, faster progress can be made in the development of varieties that are resistant to certain diseases or environmental conditions.

The colour of the LED indoor grow light enhances growth.

Can I apply these techniques in indoor crops?

The applications of these techniques in indoor cultivation are totally applicable. Although it is true that the equipment used in the accelerated growth environment described above is quite expensive, a “low cost” environment that offers good yields was designed in the study itself.

All we will need is an enclosed air-conditioned space, a humidifier and the LED grow lights for indoor growing that we need. Most likely we will not double the yield of our plants, but they will surely show a higher growth.

Now all that’s left is to enjoy watching our plants grow stronger and healthier than ever.


You can view the scientific paper at
*Ray DK, Mueller ND, West PC, Foley JA (2013) Yield Trends Are Insufficient to Double Global Crop Production by 2050. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66428.