Seasonal Changes in Growth, Nitrogen Nutrition, and Yield of Hydroponic Lettuce Academic Article uri icon


  • The effect of different nitrogen (N) concentrations on growth changes, leaf N concentration and accumulation patterns, N nutrition index (NNI), fresh weight yield, and N use efficiency (NUE) was determined for lettuce grown over three consecutive seasons (fall, winter, and spring) in a recirculating hydroponic system, under unheated and naturally lit hoop house in Uvalde, TX. The lettuce cultivars Buttercrunch, Dragoon, and Sparx were grown at six N concentrations, initially 100, 150, 200, 250, 300, and 400 mgL1 using a nutrient film technique (NFT). Leaf number, accumulated dry weight (DW) and N, and leaf area index (LAI) followed a logistic trend over time, characterized by a slow increase during early growth followed by a linear increase to a maximum. By contrast, plant total N concentrations were the highest at early stage and decreased slightly over time. Effect of season and cultivar on these growth traits was more pronounced than that of the N concentrations. Averaged across cultivar and N concentrations, DW in spring was 73% and 34% greater than that in fall and winter, respectively. At each sampling date, there were linear, quadratic, or cubic effects of N concentrations on each of these variables. The cultivar Sparx was the most productive, with 63% and 32% higher fresh weight yield in fall, 145% and 114% in spring, than Buttercrunch and Dragoon, respectively. Increasing nutrient solution N concentrations from 100 to 400 mgL1 increased the yield from 5.9 to 6.7 kgm2 in fall, 8.1 to 10.7 kgm2 in winter, and 10.3 to 12.6 kgm2 in spring. The NUE was the highest at the lowest N concentration (100 mgL1) and decreased with increasing N concentrations. The NNI during mid- to late-growth stages was near or greater than one, even at the lowest N. These results demonstrated that N concentrations of 100150 mgL1 maximized the growth and yield of hydroponically grown lettuce.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Djidonou, D., & Leskovar, D. I.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Djidonou, Desire||Leskovar, Daniel I

publication date

  • January 2019