Can Shade Cloth and Mulch Extend the Greens Season in the Midwest Region?

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2001: $5,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Grant Recipient: Cultivate Kansas City
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Katherine Kelly
Two Birds Farm


  • Vegetables: greens (leafy)


  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: organic matter

    Proposal summary:

    Most varieties of green do not grow throughout the market season in the Midwest because of the 85-degree-plus weather, which persists for much of July, August, and September. The ability to extend the greens season through the summer heat would benefit local producers while meeting a consumer need at peak market times. Fresh lettuces, arugula, and increasingly, specialty green, are crops that provide significant income for growers in the spring and fall. The increased income potential for small organic growers and diversification of summer vegetables would help sustain the local organic community. Consumers seeking fresh, local, organic green for taste, health and environmental reasons would benefit from a long prolonged greens season.

    The overall goal of the project is to develop a set of practices that will permit the production of lettuce and other cooler-climate-requiring green leafy vegetables throughout the mid-western summer season. Specifically, we will evaluate lettuce cultivators and other selected green leafy vegetables to assess their heat tolerance and production potential in the Kansas City area. We will also investigate the potential of selected shade cloth, mulch, and row cover combinations to reduce soil and air temperatures and control pests. The project will take place over two years, with the second year further developing and refining procedures from the last year.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective One: Test 17 varieties of lettuce and six varieties of mustard greens to determine what varieties and types of green produce the best under hot summer conditions when shade cloth is used.

    Objective Two: Test combinations of white shade cloth, mulch, and floating row covers to reduce soil and air temperatures and to control pests.

    Objective Three: Determine if the capital investment and extra labor involved in growing shade cloth is justified by the income potential.

    Objective Four: To develop a documented, workable, and affordable system for growing greens in the Midwestern summer heat than can be used by other growers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.