Soil solarization in high tunnels in the semiarid southwestern United States

Kristen Hanson, Tilak Mahato, Ursula K. Schuch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


High tunnels are unheated structures covered with polyethylene (PE) glazing to protect high-value crops from adverse weather. The objective of this study was to raise soil temperatures to determine the efficacy of soil solarization using clear mulch on the soil surface and glazing or no glazing on a high tunnel during the hottest months of the year in the semiarid southwestern United States. Solarization trials were conducted in May and June 2013 in two high tunnels in southern Arizona. Highest soil temperatures were reached with the combination of a high tunnel covered with glazing and the soil covered with PE mulch. Average daily soil temperatures were 48 and 47 °C and average degree hours (DH) per day (base temperature 45 °C) were over 14 at soil depths of 5 and 15 cm. The average daily maximum soil temperature at 5-and 15-cm depth was 63.4 and 52 °C, respectively. The second highest soil temperatures were reached when the soil was covered with PE mulch without high tunnel glazing, which resulted per day in 5.2 DH above 45 °C at 5 cm and less than one DH at 15-cm depth. Glazing on the high tunnel without covering the soil surface raised soil temperatures only at the 5-cm depth above 45 °C, but not further down. High tunnel producers in the low desert areas in the southwestern United States can complete solarization in less than 1 week, depending on the organism to be controlled, when the soil is fallow during the summer months with glazing on the high tunnel and on the soil surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1170
Number of pages6
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Biological control
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Plasticulture
  • Polyethylene mulch
  • Soil disinfestation
  • Solar heating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Horticulture


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