High Tunnels Provide Opportunity to Extend Growing Season


Audio provided as a service to farm broadcasters by the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

Audio with Linda Naeve (nayv), Iowa State University Extension Specialist.

Suggested Lead: Thanks to a pilot project launched under the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative last year - more rural Americans are likely familiar with the term high tunnels. But they may not know what high tunnels - also called hoop houses - look like.

Linda Naeve is a specialist with Iowa State University Extension…tape

Cut #1     :22             O.C…”on the plants.”

Not only are high tunnels less costly than most greenhouses - but Naeve says they allow farmers - particularly fruit and vegetable growers - to extend their growing season…tape

Cut #2     :24             O.C…”early April.”

Naeve says high tunnels also provide protection from weather elements, the incidence of plant diseases is minimal and weed and insect pressure is less prevalent. She says it all adds up to a high quality crop that yields prior to the season for other growers - which means a higher price at the market.

Before farmers decide to add high tunnels to their operations - Naeve says there are some things to keep in mind. For one thing - she says raising crops in high tunnels does take special skills…tape

Cut #3     :26             O.C…”level site.”

Naeve says farmers can grow a wide variety of crops in high tunnels. She suggests they choose crops that can garner a higher value at the market for earlier production, higher quality and/or a longer lasting season…tape

Cut #4     :26             O.C…”from the high tunnels.”

By combining high tunnels and field planting, succession planting and good variety selection - Naeve says researchers at Iowa State have shown that commercial vegetable growers can provide a continuous supply of vegetables to the market. She says it can increase the availability of healthy, locally-grown crops in a conservation-friendly way.

For more on high tunnels - contact your local county extension office or visit www dot hightunnels dot org (www.hightunnels.org).