Georgia peppers growers are finding out yields are made in the shade, thanks to research from the University of Georgia.
Horticulturist Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez has been studying pepper production on black plastic mulch under black shade cloth since 2007, according to a news release.
Initial results showed plants under the shade grew taller, had more leaves, and produced more marketable and total yields compared with unshaded plants.
From 2009-11, Diaz-Perez compared the effects of five different levels of shading, ranging from none to 80 percent.
In field trials conducted at the university's Tifton campus, he found that shade cloth that created 30 percent shading actually increased photosynthesis and doubled marketable yield.
It also extended the growing season by almost a month, well into July.
Without shading, growers can experience as much as 50 percent crop loss due to damage or culls.
Diaz-Perez also found that reflective silver mulch worked better than traditional black plastic mulch.
The silver mulch worked as well in the spring as the black mulch but reflected solar radiation later in the season to protect the plants' roots from harsh summer sun.