Sydney: Intense ultraviolet (UV) light might be bad for your skin, but it works wonders for vegetables by boosting their size and output.
Jason Wargent, senior lecturer at the Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University, has found that exposing lettuce to UV light in the early stages leads to increased yield.
His Britain-based research team took two sets of lettuce seedlings and exposed one to UV-B light as seedlings, the journal Plant, Cell and Environment reports.
"Many crops are quite heavily protected from the sun when they are very young... but in this study we allowed the lettuce crops to be exposed to UV light earlier," Wargent says. At harvest, these plants were bigger.
It is comparable to inoculating a child against disease, Wargent says. "It appears that a little bit of a bad thing - in this case UV light - does you good. (The plants) seemed to be more robust against high temperature," according to a Massey statement.
"When the plants were moved outside, they were more ready for the stresses that plants usually encounter in the field whereas the non-exposed plants were not."
These findings were presented at the International Botanical Congress in Melbourne.