Commercial Extract from the Brown Seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum (Stimplex®) Improves Earliness and Yield of Hydroponically Grown Sweet Bell Peppers

Wednesday, July 24, 2013: 9:00 AM
Desert Salon 4-6 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Will Neily , Acadian Seaplants, Ltd., Dartmouth, NS, Canada
Jef Achenbach , Acadian Seaplants Ltd., Dartmouth, NS, Canada
Laurel Shishkov , Acadian Seaplants Ltd., Dartmouth, NS, Canada
Jeffrey Norrie, Dr. , Breathing Green Solutions, Wentworth, NS, Canada
Sweet bell peppers are one of the leading greenhouse vegetables grown in North America and the world. Almost all greenhouse peppers are produced hydroponically using computerized production systems and grown in media such as rock-wool or coconut fiber. In the United States  and Canada, growers typically transplant new plants into their greenhouses in December and the first ripe peppers are produced in late March. A greenhouse experiment at the Dr. James S. Craigie Research Center in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, was designed to test the effects of Stimplex® extract (a derivative from Ascophyllum nodosum) on earliness and yield of hydroponically grown greenhouse sweet bell peppers. Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed extract (ASE) treatments in combination with a standard hydroponic fertilizer were applied to the root systems of sweet bell pepper plants (Capsicum annuum L. var. Morraine) through the irrigation system. The growth, flowering, and fruit production of the ASE treated plants was compared to fertilizer only treated plants. The yield of ASE-treated plants was shown to increase by up to 20% during the first 7 weeks of production. In addition, an increase in quality was observed in the ASE treatments, with a 37% increase in the number of peppers graded as being Fancy, as compared to the control. Also, a significant reduction in the incidence of blossom-end rot was measured in the ASE treatments. This was attributed to the higher calcium concentration measured in the tissue of the ASE-treated pepper plants. These results suggested that ASE applications promote earliness, increase yields, and improve the quality of hydroponically grown sweet bell peppers, which result in a higher economic return for the user.