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Webinar: High Tunnel Enhancements: Using Inner Covers to Increase Production

From Amber Polk, Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), North Carolina State University via Chris Wien

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Noon – 1 p.m.
Registration Fee: Free
Instructor: Steve Moore

Are you getting the most out of your high tunnels? This short webinar will focus on the use of low-cost inner tunnels in cool weather to increase microclimate temperatures. These microclimate enhancements have provided significant increases in plant growth and production capacity. There will be a significant portion of time for high tunnel questions.

Register online:

More information on the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

High tunnels featured in Ithaca Journal

High tunnel tomatoesLengthening the growing season in the June 19 Ithaca Journal extols the virtues of high tunnels.

The article profiles Howard Hoover, 49, and his family, who fabricate the tunnels on their farm in Milo, N.Y. in the winter months to augment their income from selling produce, and use the tunnels themselves to extend hit early markets in spring and extend their harvest in fall.

In the article, Cornell High Tunnel Team member Judson Reid, a vegetable specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Yates and Seneca counties says that

… the movements for local food and sustainable practices are driving some purchases. High tunnels represent a way to extend the short local food season in upstate New York. Their cost – about $4,000 for the most common size – can be recovered in one or two growing seasons by a small producer.

“Since they don’t use fossil fuel, they appeal to people’s desire for sustainable production, versus a (heated) greenhouse, which generally uses fossil fuels.”

See the Structure and equipment sources page at the Cornell High Tunnels website for a list of suppliers and contact information.

Automatic sidewall opener

From Chris Wien, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Here’s a video showing the sidewall of our new high tunnel in Freeville being opened by an automatic opener mechanism devised by our farm manager, Steve McKay. He is operating it manually in the video, but normally it is connected to a thermostat that has adjustable temperature settings for opening and closing.

The mechanism is battery-operated, and was invented by high tunnel grower Howard Hoover in Yates County. It is available for sale from him. Note that the sides of this tunnel are lowered to open, and therefore protect the plants from the outside temperature and wind when partially open. Another advantage of this system is that the opener mechanism is inside the high tunnel, protected from the weather.

Contact info for Howard Hoover:

Howard Hoover Family Farm
2849 Swartout Road
Penn Yan NY 14527

Find more sources of structures and equipment.

Michigan State blog, video

Adam Montri, outreach specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University, has started The Hoophouse Blog.  He writes:

I’ll be talking about all sorts of different topics here from choosing a site to construction to crop selection and timing. As the blog goes on you’ll see featured farms that are using hoophouses in different ways and even some interviews with the farmers out there championing season extension and year-round production. I’ll try to keep it interesting with pictures and videos too.

And speaking of videos, here’s Part 1 of Building a Hoophouse featuring Adam (below). Part 2 is here.

New resource: Low Cost High Tunnel Construction

Low Cost High Tunnel Construction – Pictorial how-to of one simple method via eXtension website.

Update 2/23/2009: Much more high tunnel information on high tunnels on eXtension’s Organic Vegetable Production Systems, Season Extension page.

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