The mystery surrounding why the skies turn a bright shade of pink over Merseyside (North West England) at night has been revealed. Many people have been left scratching their heads as to what the shocking fuschia coloured spectacle is. And you could be forgiven for thinking it is the result of some bizarre natural phenomenon. But the answer comes down to... tomatoes.
Tomato plant Flavourfresh Salads, in Scarisbrick, has for the past year been using LED lights to help aid the growth of its award winning tomatoes.The lights, which are a mixture of blue and red, are used in the greenhouses and when combined appear bright pink. When on, they can be seen for miles with people claiming to have seen the pink colour in the sky from Southport, Formby and even as far as Kirkby.
However, although the lights are turned on every night - there will only be certain times people will actually be able to see the sky change colour from a distance. Andy Liggat, nursery manager, at Flavourfresh told the ECHO: “The reason you get the beautiful coloured sky is because of the weather. “If you get a nice clear night you won’t see it but if it is misty, raining or foggy the LED lights will shine on the cloud and that is what gives it that glow. “If you woke up at 5am and it was a nice clear morning you may see a tint of it but if you woke up to fog and looked, you would be like wow.”
The lights were installed by Tarleton-based Eco Electrical & Building Services. Inside the six and a half acre site there are 100,000 plants which on average produce 420 tonnes of tomatoes a year. The huge greenhouses have blackout screens on its windows, which are computerised to close at night which is when the LED lights come on. There are gaps of around a foot, left in the blackout screens meaning the lights can shine through and subsequently up into the sky. But there is a reason why people may see a pink skyline more often in the coming months. Andy added: “The LED lights elongate the day light in the greenhouses for the tomatoes. “So as the nights get darker earlier we turn the lights on earlier. We are basically giving the tomatoes 18 hours of day light and kidding them in effect to thinking it is daylight.”
The company, who produces the speciality crop for Asda and M&S, has been in operation since the mid 70s and was the fifth in the country to trial LED lights. In the greenhouses, which average at around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, there are around 3,000 LED lights which have replaced the previous high pressure sodium lights. Andy said the change to the LED lighting is in keeping with the demands from the public and supermarkets. He said: “If you don’t have light, you can’t grow tomatoes. In winter you don’t have the necessary sunlight so the LED lights make it possible to grow the tomatoes all year round.”
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