In the past, planting season for many horticultural crops began in May to avoid the threat of frost; however, traditional planting times may change for some commercial growers as more producers use high tunnels to extend the growing season. High tunnels have become a popular and profitable method to produce high-value crops. They are simple, tall, plastic-covered structures used for the production of fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, and many other crops. They resemble greenhouses but cost less to erect and operate.
Growers interested in seeing horticultural crops growing under high tunnels and learning more about their maintenance and crop management should plan to attend a workshop at the Iowa State University Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm near Lewis, Iowa, on June 21, 2006. Workshop participants will be able to tour a newly constructed high tunnel planted with tomatoes, blackberries, and red raspberries, as well as see other horticultural plantings at the farm. Speakers include Henry Taber, Extension vegetable specialist, and Paul Domoto, Extension fruit specialist. Maury Wills, from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, will discuss organic certification.
The workshop, sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and the Wallace Foundation for Rural Research and Development, begins with registration at 4:30 p.m. followed by an "All-Iowa" dinner at 5 p.m. and the program. The cost is $15 per person. Preregistration is required. For more information, go to the Pest Management and the Environment website, call your local county Iowa State University Extension office, or contact me at 515-294-8946.
Less expensive than greenhouses, high tunnels are simple, tall, plastic-covered structures for the production of fruits and vegetables, cut flowers, and many other high-value alternative crops.
Thanks to the efforts of the farm staff, volunteers, and a little break in the weather, the plastic was placed over the high tunnel at ISU Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm on April 8, 2006. Tomatoes, red raspberries, and blackberries will be planted under the high tunnel in mid-April. (Bernie Havlovic)
This article originally appeared on page 85 of the IC-496 (6) -- April 10, 2006 issue.