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Shadehouses with photoselective nets featured in study of growing conditions
Date:11/19/2013

APOPKA, FL--Shade nets are widely used in ornamental crop production systems to protect crops from radiation, wind, hail, and birds. According to a 2011 study from the United States Department of Agriculture, 43% of floricultural crop production in the United States occurred under shade or other temporary cover. Although black nets are most common, growers have begun experimenting with colored, gray, and white "dispersive" netting in order to determine effects of the colored nets on crop vigor, dwarfing, branching, leaf variegation, and flowering time. Researchers from the University of Florida's Mid-Florida Research and Education Center published results of a 12-month research study in HortScience, in which they evaluated light quantity, light quality, and other environmental variables inside shadehouses fitted with photoselective and color-neutral nets. They anticipate that their study findings will be helpful to growers, horticulturists, and agricultural engineers.

According to author Steven Arthurs, today's photoselective (colored) and color-neutral dispersive shade nettings are made of woven or knitted polypropylene materials with different dimensions of fibers and holes designed to create specific shade levels. "Traditional black nets are completely opaque, and the spectral quality of radiation is not modified by the nets, while dispersive shade nets are less opaque and scatter radiation, creating more diffused light that can penetrate inside plant canopies, Arthurs explained, adding that colored nets contain additives that selectively filter solar radiation to promote specific wavelengths of light."

The researchers designed a study using 16 shadehouse structures that were covered on the top and all sides with one of two photoselective (red and blue), or one of two color neutral (black and pearl) nets. "This setup allowed us to monitor the impact of the full spectrum of environmental conditions (not just light) independently," sai
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert

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