Heat Mitigation and Season Extension with Shade Cloth

Posted on October 5, 2023 by Alicia Alferman

Kansas City is hot in the summer, especially this Summer, as we saw heat records fall across the region and around the world. With this heat comes learning opportunities- opportunities for farmers to employ climate mitigating strategies and become more climate resilient.  With support from SARE, farmers at the New Roots training farm were able to implement the climate resilient strategy of using shade cloth when starting fall transplants. 

In the Kansas City area, fall plantings begin as early as late July, and it is a difficult task for any farmer to get these cooler season crops off to a good start in the summer heat.  Crops like broccoli, kale, cabbage are out of their comfort zone of growth and don’t establish well when it’s in the 90s and 100s. The summer sun is intense, scorches leaves, and the pest pressure in late summer is much higher than early spring.  Shade cloth alleviates many of these issues giving crops the quick establishment they crave. 

Staff, farmers, and volunteers from Next Step Ministries and Amazon (sent to us from our friends at United Way of Greater KC) took turns bending 10-foot sticks of EMT into hoops, farmers planted their crops, and then covered these low tunnels with shade cloth.


The shade cloth allowed the plants to be less stressed by the intense heat and sun so that they could establish themselves without damage to make for good growth towards a large fall harvest. The shaded areas keep lower soil temperatures, and several farmers paired this with overhead wobbler sprinklers to supply an even cooler environment for the plants. As you can see by this Sweet Stem broccoli, the results have been outstanding.


Written by Mark Gawron, Westport Commons Farm Program Manager