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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325

Surface temperature of a soilless medium in white, gray, and black plug sheets was measured to determine the value of using plug sheets of different colors to control soil temperature during seed germination and young seedling growth. Plugs sheets were placed in a greenhouse set at 25°C. Soil surface temperatures were measured with fine-wire thermocouples inserted into the top 1 mm of the soil. A thermal image analyzer was used to determine the temperature variation across the plug flat. At night, soil temperature in all three colored flats was 3°C below air temperature because of evaporation and net longwave radiative losses to the greenhouse glass. Surface temperature of moist soil increased as solar radiation increased. Soil surface temperature in the white sheet was 6.3 and 10°C warmer than the air under solar radiation conditions of 350 and 700 W ·m-2 (about 700 and 1400 μmol·m-2·s-1), which was 3 and 2°C cooler than soil the black and gray plug sheets, respectively. These data indicate plug sheet color influences soil surface temperature, but not as much as solar radiation does. Preventing high solar radiation during the summer is more critical than plug sheet color.

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