Red Mulch Equals More Tomatoes

By Charlie Nardozzi

Gardeners have used black, clear, and infrared transmitting (IRT) plastic mulches to prevent weed growth, heat the soil, and increase the yields of their vegetable plants. Now there's a new mulch that's specifically designed to increase tomato yields.

Researchers at the USDA have shown that plastic mulch that reflects mostly red light increases tomato yields 12 to 20 percent compared to black plastic. Called "selective reflecting mulch," or SRM-Red, it works by reflecting far-red light up into the plant. Researchers theorize that the tomato plant responds as if it "thinks" it's being crowded and diverts more energy into the production of stems, leaves, and fruit.

Don't try to paint white mulch with red paint, because the red color has to be of a very exact intensity to produce the reported yields.

Preliminary results also indicate that SRM-Red may increase strawberry yields, too.

SRM-Red costs $10 for a 4-foot-wide roll that's 50 feet long.

About Charlie Nardozzi
Thumb of 2020-06-04/Trish/0723fdCharlie Nardozzi is an award winning, nationally recognized garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert gardening information to home gardeners through radio, television, talks, tours, on-line, and the printed page. Charlie delights in making gardening information simple, easy, fun and accessible to everyone. He's the author of 6 books, has three radio shows in New England and a TV show. He leads Garden Tours around the world and consults with organizations and companies about gardening programs. See more about him at Gardening With Charlie.

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