Over many years of experimentation and use since the late 1950's, black plastic has proved to be a boost to agricultural productivity. Because of the inherent physical properties of black plastic mulch, it modifies the micro-climate around plants, enhancing growth, yield, and quality of horticultural crops.
Here are some of the advantages you can expect when using black plastic:
- Earlier and higher yields even though there will be variations from year to year.
- Weed control. Because the mulch is black, light is not transmitted through the plastic and therefore weeds will not grow under the material.
- Soil temperature increases 3° to 5°F under the mulch at soil depths of 2 to 6 inches. This is the area of greatest root growth early in the season. Warm roots grow faster and accelerate plant growth.
- Evaporation of soil moisture is reduced. Plastic mulch is impervious to water. Any evaporation of soil moisture occurs only through the planting holes.
- Nutrient leaching is reduced during excessive rainy periods.
- Easy to install and durable. Plastic mulch is flexible and stretchable. It will conform to both flat and raised beds. Strong enough for double cropping in the same season or possibly for use over two seasons. Easy field removal.
Product Description: 1 mil black embossed 4' x 4000', 4' x 600' and 4' x 100' rolls are available.
- Prepare soil well. It should be smooth and friable.
- Do not lay plastic on dry soil.
- Carefully adjust plastic laying machine.
- Plastic should be in close contact with the soil for maximum heat transfer into the soil.
- Be sure the edges of the plastic are well secured with soil.
Crops that are suited for black plastic mulch (SRM-Black)
- Vegetables --Wwarm season and cool season transplant crops and for direct seeded crops that are seeded in hills (e.g. cucumbers and squash).
- Small fruits -- Strawberries in annual hill system
- Cut flowers
Embossed vs. Smooth Mulch
Generally, embossed mulch has greater stretchability than smooth mulch. It is highly recommended for raised beds where the plastic mulch should fit snugly and firmly over the bed.
References for further information:
- Tarara, Julie M. 2000. Microclimate modification with plastic mulch. HortScience 35(2):169-180.
- Plastics website: http://www.plasticulture.org