Summer (subarctic) versus winter (subtropic) production affects spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) leaf bionutrients: vitamins (C, E, Folate, K1, provitamin A), lutein, phenolics, and antioxidants. Academic Article uri icon


  • Comparison of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) cultivars Lazio and Samish grown during the summer solstice in the subarctic versus the winter solstice in the subtropics provided insight into interactions between production environment (light intensity), cultivar, and leaf age/maturity/position affecting bionutrient concentrations of vitamins (C, E, folate, K1, provitamin A), lutein, phenolics, and antioxidants. Growing spinach during the winter solstice in the subtropics resulted in increased leaf dry matter %, oxidized (dehydro) ascorbic acid (AsA), - and -tocopherol, and total phenols but lower reduced (free) AsA, -carotene, folate, and antioxidant capacity compared to summer solstice-grown spinach in the subarctic. Both cultivars had similar bionutrients, except for higher dehydroAsA, and lower - and -tocopherol in 'Samish' compared to 'Lazio'. For most bionutrients measured, there was a linear, and sometimes quadratic, increase in concentrations from bottom to top canopy leaves. However, total phenolics and antioxidant capacity increased basipetally. The current study has thus demonstrated that dehydroAsA, -tocopherol, and -tocopherol were substantially lower in subarctic compared to subtropical-grown spinach, whereas the opposite relationship was found for antioxidant capacity, -carotene, and folates (vitamin B9). The observations are consistent with previously reported isolated effects of growth environment on bionutrient status of crops. The current results clearly highlight the effect of production environment (predominantly radiation capture), interacting with genetics and plant phenology to alter the bionutrient status of crops. While reflecting the effects of changing growing conditions, these results also indicate potential alterations in the nutritive value of foods with anticipated shifts in global climatic conditions.

published proceedings

  • J Agric Food Chem

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Lester, G. E., Makus, D. J., Hodges, D. M., & Jifon, J. L.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • Lester, Gene E||Makus, Donald J||Hodges, D Mark||Jifon, John L

publication date

  • July 2013