Radiant in Residential

Radiant floor technology being used in lettuce growing trials

Thu, 03/14/2013 - 12:25

Researchers at Cornell University are working on making lettuce a viable winter crop in the northern portion of the United States. Demand for lettuce is high, as consumers are willing to pay up to $12 per pound for lettuce-based salad mixes throughout the year. During the summer months prices for lettuce remain affordable, but as soon as the crop's growing season in the north depletes, consumers are forced to pay more to have the organic treat shipped up from the south. 
However, this may all be something of the past in the future.
"While spinach can be grown and harvested year 'round in northern New York with a minimal addition of heat largely in January and early February, lettuce crops are more cold-sensitive. Our question is can growers cost-effectively add heat to grow the salad greens year 'round without sacrificing profitability. There is great demand by consumers and by regional restaurants clamoring for local greens," said Amy Ivy, Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator for Clinton and Essex counties.  
As a result, researchers are using new programs to determine how best to heat the ground and extend the crop life of lettuce. One particular solution is using radiant floor heating technology to pump heat through the ground or surface floor material. 
"This research in northern New York is the first attempt at developing a system for heating the greens-growing environment inside high tunnels using heating strips primarily designed for in-floor radiant heat," said Cornell University Cooperative Extension Vegetable Specialist Judson Reid. 
While research is still inconclusive, researchers have hope that the radiant heating technology used will lead to success based off early findings.