Photosynthetic responses of swiss chard, kale, and spinach cultivars to irradiance and carbon dioxide concentration

John Erwin, Esther Gesick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The impact of irradiance (0-1200 µmol·m-2·s-1) and carbon dioxide concentration (CO2; 50-1200 ppm) on kale (Brassica oleracea and B. napus pabularia; three cultivars), Swiss chard (chard, Beta vulgaris; four cultivars), and spinach (Spinacea oleracea; three cultivars) photosynthetic rate (Pn; per area basis) was determined to facilitate maximizing yield in controlled environment production. Spinach, chard, and kale maximum Pn were 23.8, 20.3, and 18.2 µmol CO2·m-2·s-1 fixed, respectively, across varieties (400 ppm CO2). Spinach and kale had the highest and lowest light compensation points [LCPs (73 and 13 µmol·m-2·s-1, respectively)] across varieties. The light saturation points (LSPs) for chard and kale were similar at 884-978 µmol·m-2·s-1, but for spinach, the LSP was higher at 1238 µmol·m-2·s-1. Dark respiration was lowest on kale and highest on spinach (L0.83 andL5.00 µmol CO2·m-2·s-1, respectively). The spinach CO2 compensation point (CCP) was lower (56 ppm) than the chard or kale CCP (64-65 ppm). Among varieties, ‘Red Russian’ kale Pn saturated at the lowest CO2 concentration (858 ppm), and ‘Bright Lights’ chard saturated at the highest (1266 ppm; 300 µmol·m-2·s-1). Spinach Pn was more responsive to increasing irradiance than to CO2. Kale Pn was more responsive to increasing CO2 than to irradiance, and chard Pn was equally responsive to increasing CO2 or irradiance. Implications and limitations of this work when “upscaling” to whole-plant responses are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-712
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge and appreciate the financial support of the Minnesota Agriculture Experiment Station, USDA-ARS Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and members of the University of Minnesota through the Floriculture Research Alliance including Altman Plants, Inc., Rocket Farms, Inc., SmithGardens, Inc., and Green Circle Growers, Inc.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, American Society for Horticultural Science. All rights reserved.


  • Beta
  • Brassica
  • Co saturation point
  • Light saturation point
  • Respiration
  • Spinacea


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