Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) is primarily used for culinary purposes, but it is also used in the fragrance and medicinal industries. In the last few years, global sweet basil production has been significantly impacted by downy mildew caused by Peronospora belbahrii Thines. Nighttime exposure to red light has been shown to inhibit sporulation of P. belbahrii. The objective of this study was to determine if nighttime exposure to red light from light-emitting diodes (λmax = 625 nm) could increase plant growth (plant height and leaf size) and yield (number and weight of leaves) in basil plants. In two sets of greenhouse experiments, red light was applied at a photosynthetic photon flux density of 60 μmol m-2 s-1 during the otherwise dark night for 10 h (from 2000 to 0600). The results demonstrate that exposure to red light at night can increase the number of basil leaves per plant, plant height, leaf size (length and width), and leaf fresh and dry weight compared with plants in darkness at night. The addition of incremental red light at night has the potential to be cost-effective for fresh organic basil production in controlled environments.
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