Why the sky over Langley turned purple

Glenwood Valley Farms is experimenting with LED lighting to help grow vegetables


Times Reporter

A few months ago, the sky over Langley glowed purple.

The magenta glow showed up in the evening sky a number of evenings, leaving many residents wondering what was causing the curious phenomenon.

Many speculated it was an atmospheric event, others thought it was filming or even an alien invasion. The purple haze even made it on the six o’clock news, with meteorologists weighing in on what it could be.

The mysterious purple sky is actually caused by a greenhouse in south Langley, which uses LED lights to help grow their cucumbers.

“That’s us. The owner of Glenwood Valley Farms, Herb, is using a new LED lighting system to test out if he can do year-round growing,” said Glenwood Valley Farms sales representative Bernice Neff.

Under the LED lights are cucumbers, both long English and mini cucumbers, Neff said.

“It looks like Christmas lights all around the cucumbers,” she noted.

With the low cloud cover in March, the red and blue LED lights from the greenhouse spread through the sky in the evenings, creating that incredible purple haze.

Glenwood Valley Farms, which has been operating in south Langley for 30 years, initially growing peppers and cucumbers, and now with the addition of eggplant, is testing LED lighting, mainly using the colour spectrum of red and blue, to see if it will increase the growing season.

Victoria Surrage is part of the team running the light trials at Glenwood.

“The plants are more reactive to the red and blue spectrum of light,” said Surrage. “Different crops react to different light spectrums. So far, we’ve seen positive results. Theo owner, Herb Schlacht is very innovative and likes new technology so he has been experimenting with co-generation electricity production and LEDs for efficient lighting,” she said.

“It’s a very different and exciting growing strategy.”

Glenwood Valley Farms started the light trials in November within their 7.4 acres of greenhouses in the 2100 block of 208 Street. The hope with the LED lights is to be able to produce cucumbers throughout the winter.

As Surrage and another team member, Antonio Marvuglia, collect data and growing outcomes, they may try other spectrums of colours to determine which offer optimum growing conditions.

There are only a few greenhouses in B.C. testing LED lighting, said Surrage.

Traditional lighting in greenhouses is high pressure sodium lights (HPS) which produce a lot of heat . They also create that yellow glow people are used to seeing from greenhouses.

LEDs are more efficient, offering more light and less heat, allowing for the lights to be placed closer to the plants. Because of the mild climate, plants in the Fraser Valley don’t require high heat, Surrage explained.

Studies have been conducted on how different colours of lights can make plants more productive.

There is even some thought that the colour violet helps enhance the flavour of the plant and benefits the antioxidants inside the plant.

“It’s very exciting work. Certain colour spectrums can increase the nutritional benefits of a plant, change how it fruits, affect the plant’s hormones and chlorophyll intake.”

One study found that red spectrum of LED light increased the vitamin C content in tomatoes, for example.

In 2011, the Canadian government and GE Canada put money into a study at McGill University to study LED lighting on plant growth.

The LED experiment will be closely analyzed for years to come, in the hope this will be the way to grow, said Surrage.


Just Posted

Gators top ’Cats in all-Langley Fraser Valley final

Walnut Grove junior girls continue strong play over past month by winning Fraser Valley banner

Rebels beat road-weary Giants

Vancouver was playing fourth game in five days

VIDEO: Pedestrian hit in Langley City

Unclear if responsible vehicle remained at scene

History for Spartans

First-time in program history Trinity Western women’s basketball team has advanced to Canada West semifinals

Annual Langley bird count numbers drop

Bad weather likely cause, organizers say

Update: Langley gas station robbed (with video)

Incident on Glover Road draws massive police response

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

VIDEO: Protesters rally for affordable housing ahead of B.C. budget

Residents call on province to keep locals housed

Update: Highway 97C reopened following multi-vehicle incident

Highway 97C is closed to eastbound traffic near Pennask Summit following an incident Sunday afternon

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Liberals to dig deeper, aim higher on gender equality in 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the budget would include measures to boost women in the workforce

Late-winter snow storm blankets Lower Mainland

Some areas got up to half a foot of snow

Body of missing skier found

Man’s truck found in Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s parking lot covered in ‘several days’ snow’

Most Read