A question I’ve been asked countless times. Tutorial time.
So, why are your plants stretching? Well, when your plants stretch for light, this is called phototropism.
This can be seen when your seedlings are left on a windowsill, the reason this is happening is because plants can detect wavelengths and light intensity at all angles. The cells on the shaded side grow quicker, tilting the stem towards the direction of the light intensity.
If the light intensity is directly above the plant then auxin will diffuse down the stem stimulating even growth.
If only one side of plant is exposed to light, auxin diffuses away from the light causing the stem to bend.
Shade Avoidance Response
Plants depend on light for photosynthesis, and they have developed a system to detect competition from their neighbours to respond accordingly. Light reflected from neighbouring plants is reduced in its far-red (R/FR) ratio. The phytochrome (PHY) photoreceptors perceive low R/FR and trigger shade avoidance responses that allow plants to compete for light.
The correct response to a specific light cue depends on the environment. Plants native to sunny environments are sensitive to foliar shade and show robust shade avoidance. Such changes in shade-avoidance response are adaptive and are due to heritable genetic differences.
Harness the Laws of Light Energy
Light energy is bound by the laws of science. The inverse square law tells us that light travelling away from the source will diminish exponentially the further it travels – therefor PAR light and canopy penetration diminish greatly!
Moving Lights Vs Stationary Single Source lighting
High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lights radiate temperatures that can burn, so when the light is mounted stationary they must be kept at a sufficient height to avoid any plant tissue damage.
Employing a light mover will prevent this damage. The lamps are continually moving, so lamp, to plant distance can be decreased. Light moving equipment allows greater penetration of a higher intensity balanced spectrum light to lower areas of the plants, resulting in healthier more compact growth.
When using light movers, the user can expect approximately a 15-25% rise in yield, as long as certain parameters are maintained in regards to how far, each light travels.
LED & Light SpreadRecent developments in LED lighting has come about with uniform spread being a big selling point for most new fixtures. This uniform spread design essentially allows your entire ceiling to be illuminated evenly through the use of LED technology. This type of lighting fixture helps reduce the shade avoidance response by hitting a plant with light from all angles from above, as well as reducing hot or intense light spots that are common with high powered single source lighting, such as HID. For this reason, uniform spread LED fixtures will never require a light mover to gain the same benefits.
Now you know why plants stretch, take some preventative action, obtain healthier plant growth and increase your yields through wise management of grow room lighting.