Minimizing energy utilization for growing strawberries during long-duration space habitation

  • Massa G
  • Santini J
  • Mitchell C
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Strawberry is a candidate crop for space that is rich in protective antioxidants and could also have psychological benefits as a component of crew diets during long-duration space habitation. Energy for electric lighting is a major input to a controlled-environment crop-production system for space habitation. Day-neutral strawberry cultivars were evaluated at several different photoperiods to determine minimum lighting requirements without limiting yield or negatively impacting fruit quality. The cultivars 'Tribute', 'Seascape', and 'Fern' were grown at 14, 17, or 20 h of light per day, and fruit yield was evaluated over a 31-week production period. This amounted to a difference of 2418 kWh m-2in energy usage between the longest and shortest photoperiods. All cultivars produced similar total fresh weight of fruit regardless of photoperiod. Volunteer tasters rated organoleptic characteristics including sweetness, tartness, texture, and overall appeal as measures of fruit quality. Generally, organoleptic attributes were not affected by photoperiod, but these attributes were somewhat dependent upon cultivar and harvest time. Cultivars under different photoperiods varied in their production of fruit over time. 'Seascape' was the most consistent producer, typically with the largest, most palatable fruit. 'Seascape' plants subsequently were grown at 10-, 12-, or 14-h photoperiods over a treatment period of 33 weeks. Photoperiod again had no significant effect on total fruit weight, although there were periodic flushes of productivity. Fruit under all photoperiods had acceptable approval ratings. A large-fruited, day-neutral strawberry cultivar such as 'Seascape' remains productive under shortened photoperiods, allowing reductions in energy and crew labor while maintaining flexibility for mixed-cropping scenarios in space. © 2010 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Controlled environment
  • Daily light integral
  • Life support
  • Light energy
  • Organoleptic characteristics
  • Photoperiod

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  • Gioia D. Massa

  • Judith B. Santini

  • Cary A. Mitchell

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