Cucumber cultivation under full LED lighting: Rijk Zwaan and Hortilux achieve excellent results


Marcel van Koppen, cucumber crop coordinator at Rijk Zwaan, is enthusiastic about the trial with cucumber cultivation under LED lighting from Hortilux. In his position he is the linking pin between breeding and sales and in that capacity he is constantly looking at what the market wants. In this article we look at the objectives, the conditions, the technique used and the striking results of this successful trial.

The trial: looking for maximum production

Rijk Zwaan, a leading breeder of fruit and vegetables, conducted a trial between October 19 and April 6 with the aim of optimizing the production of long cucumbers. The objectives were ambitious:

  • High winter production: More than 10 pieces per m2 per week
  • Average fruit weight: 385 grams
  • Reference variety: Skyview

The trial took place in the Rijk Zwaan Trial Center High Tech (TCHT) in De Lier, which opened in 2022. Various varieties were grown on an area of ​​approximately 1,100 m2, with a lot of attention paid to creating optimal growing conditions for cucumbers, but in such a way that they correspond with growers’ practices. Marcel: “Growers must recognize themselves in how we grow here. Moisture control, for example, is an important part of this. There are no fewer than four air mixers on the small surface area. This high number allows them to run at a lower speed to prevent too much ‘wind’ and thus any stress.” They also started growing under 327 µmol PAR full LED lighting from Hortilux with a special cucumber spectrum consisting of blue, red, green and far-red.

Why Hortilux?

Rijk Zwaan chose LED lighting from Hortilux because of the long-term excellent relationship, the shared lighting knowledge, the thinking about tailor-made solutions with their consultants and the excellent lighting plan with optimal uniformity in light distribution. Marcel: “That optimal light distribution is important, because so many different varieties are grown in such a small space. To make a good comparison and achieve the best growing conditions for your crop, you want everything to be as uniform as possible in every place in the greenhouse.” This optimal light distribution is the result of the Wide optics specially developed by Hortilux, which is also used on their brand new NXTLED fixture.

Surprising results: more than expected

The trial exceeded all expectations. The cultivation performed above average and insights from the trial offer opportunities for further optimization, resulting in even more kilos per m2. The following notable findings were made:

  • Far-red stimulates vegetative growth: The addition of far-red resulted in larger leaves, more light interception and more vegetative growth, which proved to be particularly beneficial for the more “difficult” varieties, such as snack cucumbers.
  • Significant production increase: An average production of 91 kg and 230 pieces per m2 was achieved within this cycle.

Marcel van Koppen is very satisfied with the results: “The trial confirms the enormous potential of LED lighting for cucumber cultivation. The combination of our expertise in breeding and that of Hortilux in LED lighting has led to excellent and promising results. We are already looking to the next steps, where we want to achieve these good results using less energy. For example, we want to heat with geothermal heat and actively dehumidify. But there is no doubt that LED is already a significant step in the right direction.” Rijk Zwaan has now started summer cultivation, as can be seen from the young plants in the photos.

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