This article originally appeared in Greenhouse Grower
Polydress SolaWrap has been successfully used in greenhouses in Europe for three decades and is now being introduced to America. SolaWrap’s unique qualities have led to reported tomato crop advancement in the Mediterranean of three weeks, in the wintertime, in an unheated greenhouse compared to standard greenhouse coverings. Its durability was tested in the extreme heat of Kuwait for a period of 25 years until the outbreak of war destroyed the testing facility. In that 25-year period, the original SolaWrap covering withstood the elements and remained effective. It did not yellow or become brittle or streak.
In the converse climate of Manitoba, Canada, where temperatures drop well below freezing, a trial has been in process for more than five years. The results are very promising. Strawberries are growing in this SolaWrap greenhouse in January, and the only heating occurs at night during the dead of winter. However, the greatest test of durability would be the greenhouses that currently have the original covering still in working condition after 29 years of severe weather, including winds in excess of 100 mph, hail storms, and heavy snow blown blizzards.
SolaWrap comprises three layers of polyethylene film that encloses thousands of air bubbles. These air bubbles give SolaWrap a remarkable R-Value of 1.7. They also allow 83 percent transparency of sunlight while diffusing 83 percent of the light. This is a paradigm shift in the industry. Not until now could Americans have the benefits of high light transparency and high light diffusion in the same greenhouse covering. With the increased amount of light diffusion plants grow healthier and faster. Normally, in the summer, thousands of dollars are spent on shade cloths, however, in Europe, due to the high diffusion rates; only 10 percent of SolaWrap greenhouses utilize shade cloths.
The flexible nature of SolaWrap lets growers use this highly insulating material year round. SolaWrap can be easily attached to drop down curtain and roll up curtain mechanisms, which allows for great sidewall ventilation. Also, high tunnel or hoop house growers finally have a long term, highly insulated, solution to cover their bowed greenhouses. No more changing their covering every few years!