Improperly ventilated heaters & ethylene damage

Spring is on its way, and with cold nights and warmer days we are seeing a common spring problem – poor air quality damage on spring bedding crops.  Symptoms, solutions and preventative measures are included in this 2017 update to a previous post.

Natural gas and propane are popular choices when it comes to heating a greenhouse.  The products of burning fuel are carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20); both compounds we know are good for your plants.  However, combustion is often (if not always) incomplete, and impurities such as carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and ethylene (C2H4) are also released leading to poor air quality if your heater is not properly vented.

Typically symptoms from ethylene damage and sulfur dioxide damage can been seen fairly quickly after exposure.

Figure 1. Signs of ethylene damage include leaf curling and epinasty, seen here in A) New Guinea Impatiens and B) lettuce seedlings.

In the short term (a few hours to a few days), ethylene damage results in leaf curling, epinasty (leaves bending downwards from the petiole) and flower drop.  If the stress continues over a Continue reading “Improperly ventilated heaters & ethylene damage”