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Steven P. Arthurs, Robert H. Stamps and Frank F. Giglia

Shade nets are widely used to protect floricultural crops from excessive radiation, wind, hail, and birds. Although black nets are most frequently used, growers are experimenting with colored, gray, and white dispersive netting to impact vegetative vigor, dwarfing, branching, leaf variegation, and timing of flowering. We monitored environmental data inside replicated shadehouse structures (10 × 10 × 3 m high) with full covering of red, blue, pearl, and black nets (all 50% nominal shading factor) in central Florida over 12 months. Actual photosynthetically active radiation (PAR, μmol·m−2·s−1) was reduced most by black nets (55% to 60% shading factor depending on the season) and least under red nets (41% to 51%) with blue and pearl nets intermediate. Spectral analysis revealed blue nets had distinctive peaks at the blue (450 to 495 nm) and far-red beyond 750 nm. Red nets had a minor peak ≈400 nm and major transmittance beyond 590 nm. Pearl nets transmitted more light above 400 nm compared with black nets but did not otherwise alter spectral composition in the visible range. No nets had red/far-red (R/FR) ratios (600 to 700/700 to 800 nm) significantly greater than ambient (close to 1), whereas blue nets had a consistently lowest R/FR ratio of ≈0.8. Both ultraviolet-B and ultraviolet-A (280 to 400 nm) were reduced most by pearl nets and least by red nets. We also noted elevated temperatures and wind resistance (but not relative humidity) under colored and pearl nets compared with black, probably as a result of the different net porosities. Our study documents the different environmental modifications inside structures covered with black, colored, and photoneutral translucent nets, which will help predict or interpret specific plant responses.