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Monday, July 17, 2017

Burlap as Shadecloth

Q. Can I use burlap for shade cloth?
Hoophouse shade cloth of about 30%

A. Don’t use burlap in place of shade cloth for vegetables as a solid piece. It is fine for creating shade for people or pets but not for plants. Be careful how much heat it traps under it if it is located too close to humans and other animals. Plants are green and need sunlight for photosynthesis. People and pets don’t need as much sunlight.
Shade cloth of a different percent shade attached to the end of the hoophouse. Vegetables growing in this area struggled due to a lack of light.
            Shade cloth comes in different percentages of shade ranging from about 30% to 100%. Shade cloth for plants ranges from 20 to about 50% shade. Plants that flower and produce fruits like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant grow best under 20 to 40% shade. Shade more than this interferes with flowering and fruiting.
Red shade cloth used at a commercial nursery to accelerate growth and increase foliage volume for house plants, non-flowering herbs, and a variety of field and nursery plants.
            Plants that only grow leaves and no flowers such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, greens can handle shade up to about 50%. After 50% shade, they grow poorly. Not enough light.
            Most burlap I have seen produces much more shade than this and would not be a good choice when growing plants.
Aluminet 50% shade cloth used for low tunnel tomato production in the Mojave Desert
            You can make 50% shade out of wooden 1x2's by laying a solid ceiling of 1x2's above the plants and then removing every other one. Similarly, 30-40% shade can be done the same way but by eliminating 2 and leaving every 3rd 1x2. You could possibly do it with burlap as well but it would have to be in alternating strips to allow light to shine on the plants from between the strips.

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