Floating row cover: an effective method to protect plants from cold nights

Protecting seedlings with floating fabrics helps farmers advance their crops growth and achieve early market prices

floating row cover protecting plants
Floating row covers are used to protect seedlings and young plants from frost damage, as they act as a frost barrier.

There are numerous cases where the crops are destroyed due to various problems like formation of frost on their surface, attack from insects, birds, chemicals etc. Earlier protecting the plants against such problems were not a simple task, but nowadays this not as difficult as it was. There have been numerous improvements in the field of agriculture in the past few decades. The yield of the crops, the immunity towards different diseases, remedies to natural problems have all been on the rise for the past few years. And as a remedy to many such problems caused because the plants are left uncovered, floating row cover began to be used. The most notable advantage of floating row covers is that they can be used without any support structures or rods. They are simply spread over the plants. So care must be taken to ensure that the covers are not so heavy or else they might damage the plants badly.

Frost is nothing but the formation of a thin coating of water in frozen form. The major problem associated with the formation of frost on plants is that it triggers a lot of heat escape. In other words the plants will get dehydrated. In extreme cases the dehydration caused by frost formation can even lead to the plants’ death which should be avoided at any cost. This can be prevented by using a cover. There are different types of covers available in the market. And one very popular one among such covers is the floating row cover. The soil which heats up during the day time cools down by night. And the warm air near the soil would rise up causing the cold air to settle down which in turn leads to the formation of the frost on the plants’ surface. The major aim in using the floating row cover is to make sure that the warm air near the soil is trapped near the plant without allowing it to rise up.

There are different kinds of materials that can be used to make such covers. Depending on the climatic conditions of the surroundings and the kind of the plant to be protected, the material used to the make the floating row cover can be decided.

frost protection blanket in greenhouse
Frost protection blankets are installed as floating row covers even inside greenhouses or macro tunels.

One thing to keep in mind while selecting a material is that, it should be porous. This is to make sure that the air flow is not at all hindered. If the air flow is hindered, then the plant will not be able to breathe easily through the covering. This is not at all a desirable condition. Another thing to make sure is that the fabric should allow sunlight to pass through the fabric. As mentioned earlier the weight of the material must also be considered before choosing it.

Another very important thing is that the fabric should not be made of plastic material because frost can creep into such fabrics. Even though the cover can trap heat, it cannot completely act as an insulator. So it is always better to remove the fabric during the day time. This would enable the soil to become heated up again.

frost cover in cropflied
This is what a roll of horticulture fleece looks like before it is used, This textile allows air to flow through but will stop any droplets of dew from reaching the leaves, therefore any frost will remain off the plant.

Another application of such row covers is that it can act as a protection against the attack from birds. Bird attacks are very common when it comes to cultivating crops. So these fabrics can also be used as a bird netting material. Also In addition to acting as a frost protection blanket, it also acts as a protection against all sorts of extreme situations caused by chemicals. These may be chemicals included in the fertilizers or they might be chemicals in the surrounding atmosphere. Also it can be used as effective a grow netting material.

The attacks from insects are also very dangerous to the plants. There are situations in which the plants are completely destroyed by different kinds of insects. All such attacks can be prevented by using a cover. So row covers also find application as an anti insect fabric. All these applications make floating row cover, a piece of equipment which is capable of complete crop support.

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