Tuesday, May 4, 2010

High Tunnels

What is a high tunnel?  A high tunnel is essentially a plastic greenhouse with no heating or cooling system.  It can also be called a hoop house.  Today high tunnels have gained in popularity because they are temporary structures that extend the growing season. If a producer is able to extend ht egrowing season of a crop by either starting the crop earlier in the year to produce an earlier than normal time frame for marketing the crop or for extending the crop past its normal ending of production, the producer is capable of garnering a higher price for the crop.

A high tunnel is a covered structure which is constructed in the field in order to protect crops from the weather (rain, wind, cool or warm temperatures), as well as in some cases, pests.  A high tunnel can offer an intermediate level of environmental control such as frost protection and can even extend the life of a crop if low covers are used within the high tunnel.  In comparison to a greenhouse, they are unheated, provide less climate control, and are less expensive.

Research in the area of high tunnels is popular today at many universities.  The University of Missouri and Kansas State University jointly shared a grant for crops grown in high tunnels.  These crops included tomatoes, strawberries, lettuces, cucumbers and squash.  For additional information on the high tunnels visit the researchers homepage at http://www.hightunnels.org/  You can also joing a listserv to learn more from producers who are using high tunnels.

High Tunnel Listserv

High Tunnels hosts a listserv for high tunnel discussion with over 260 subscribers. Recently discussed topics include strawberries, melons, inexpensive heating, poly repair and snakes. Additionally, upcoming workshops and farm tours are frequently advertised on the High Tunnel Listerv.

To sign up, visit: http://listerv.ksu.edu/

To access the high tunnels listerv archives, go to: http://listerv.ksu.edu/archives/hightunnels.html
The messages in the archives are organized by subject line by month. There is also a search engine to find specific topics.

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