There is a technology that we have been using in Florida farming for years that helps keep whitefly, thrips, and tons of other insects off your plants while boosting growth and producing an overall healthier plant! This technology is simple, low cost, totally chemical free and lasts for months. Its reflective plastic. I first tested reflective plastic back in the mid 90’s. Our test consisted of several different colored films (plastic coverings). By far the most successful of all the films tested was the reflective film. One side of the film has a “metalized” coating that when stretched tight almost looks like a mirror with the underside (that faces the ground) can either be black or white. White being the choice for hot months and black for those cool months where you want to retain some heat in the ground.
Reflective film does a couple great things, but first let’s talk about the most obvious. The reflective film reflects sunlight from underneath the plant expanding the area of the leaf’s surface that has sunlight on it. This supercharges the plants photosynthesis by making use of those lower leaves that sometime get shaded by the leaves on the upper growth. When I first tested this film, our plants were almost 6 inches taller on the reflective film than any other film tested, including the black that we have always used during the spring. The also harvested about 10 to 15% more fruit than the others.
Aside from the enhanced growth there is another extremely valuable aspect to reflective film that was the main reason for many Florida tomato farmers use it. It repels pests! Most notably for tomatoes it repels whitefly but also thrips, aphids, and other pests. Different insects have different sensitivities to certain spectrums of light and the film reflects the sun under the leaves where these pests like to live and feed on your plant.
I could go into a big explanation about the light sensitivity of whitefly and aphids, but instead lets just look at it in a commonsense way. When you scout for insects where are they usually found? Almost always under the leaves or under the canopy. The reflective film reflects the sunlight under those leaves and repels those pests away to find a less bright place to feed. Its as simple as that.
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