The educational materials listed on this page are about High Tunnels or Hoop Houses.
A high tunnel or hoop house is a covered structure used to achieve season extension, or commercial fruit and vegetable production outside the usual growing season. Common vegetables to grow in high tunnels include tomatoes, peppers, leafy greens and lettuces, strawberries and brambles. Getting started with commercial hoop house farming requires a fairly modest investment in a structure, along with knowledge of high tunnel vegetable production, such as management of nutrients, pests, irrigation and temperature. Visit SARE’s High Tunnels and Other Season Extension Techniques topic room for detailed information on hoop house plans and hoop house construction, as well as other management topics. You can also find information about sustainable commercial greenhouse production in the High Tunnels and Other Season Extension Techniques topic room.
If you are interested in season extension through high tunnel farming or gardening, the resources on this page can help. Dig deeper for information on how to build a high tunnel or hoop house, how to manage vegetable and fruit production in one, and ideas for marketing.
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Pest Exclusion Systems for Pest Management in Vegetable Production Across the Southeast
In organic vegetable production, and in situations where farmers are seeking to reduce chemical applications, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies are recommended to exclude pests in both opens fields and in high tunnels. The principles of pest exclusion involve separating the insect pest from the host plant and protecting the crop at a specific growth stage. Careful planning of both materials selected and management design are important to keeping pests out of a cash crop. This bulletin provides data and information from on-farm demonstrations on the use of pest exclusion systems. Pest exclusion systems use shade cloths as a barrier around high tunnels, low tunnels and hoop houses to exclude insect pests.
Woven Shade Cloths Part of IPM Strategy to Exclude Pests from High Tunnels
DOTHAN, Alabama – Vegetable producer Sheena Bain, of Bain Home Gardens, sees the black woven shade cloth permanently installed on her high tunnel as a game changer in controlling a whole host of crop pests. “We’ve had success in managing pests in the high tunnel that we normally would not have, compared to the level […]
Organic Control of White Mold in High Tunnels
The fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum infects many of the cool-season crops produced in Kentucky. This SARE-funded video presents information on the high tunnel production system most commonly used in Kentucky; the disease cycle of S. sclerotiorum; and two control tactics compatible with national organic standards, solarization and biofumigation.
Grafting Can Help Control Diseases in Organic High Tunnel Tomatoes
GAINESVILLE, Florida – Grafting can help control diseases in organically grown high tunnel tomatoes, according to the results of a University of Florida study. In the study, funded by a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, specialty tomatoes grafted onto two disease-resistant rootstocks effectively managed Fusarium wilt and improved the overall […]
Cover Crops Have Benefits in High Tunnels
GLENWOOD, Georgia – Barley and hairy vetch growing vigorously in a high tunnel at Lola’s Organic Farm in southeast Georgia were going to seed. It was mid-April. Time to mow and prepare the soil for the summer’s cash crops: ginger and turmeric. Since last year, couple Jennifer Taylor and Ron Gilmore – USDA certified organic […]
Berries Thrive in High Tunnels, But Be Aware of Pests, According to University of Arkansas Study
FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – A University of Arkansas study has found that using high tunnels in berry production can increase yields, extend the harvest season, and improve fruit quality compared to field production. However, care must be taken to manage pests. In the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SSARE)-funded project (LS12-250), “Extending the Market Season […]
High Tunnel Pest Exclusion System
Insect pests are one of the major problems in organic production systems. Organic IPM practice consists of a three-tiered approach consisting of systems-based practices, mechanical tactics, and biorational insecticides. Mechanical tactics encourage the use of physical barriers for pest exclusion. This bulletin provides preliminary research data and field observations about the success of shade cloths, or high tunnel pest exclusion (HTPE) systems, as a more permanent barrier system around the high tunnels.
Soil Management Using Cover Crops in Organically Managed High Tunnels
In southern climates, high tunnels are typically used for season extension in the spring, fall, and winter. In the hot summer months, if no shade cloth is used to cover high tunnels, it can be difficult to grow anything but the most heat tolerant crops, and it can be uncomfortable to work in tunnels due to the heat. This is an excellent time to incorporate a cover crop, between the late spring and early fall crops. Many cover crops species are adapted to hot southern summers and perform well in high tunnels.
High Tunnel Pest Exclusion System Part II
With the increasing demand for local foods across the Southeast, an increasing number of beginning, as well as experienced producers are producing vegetable crops in high tunnels for direct and whole sale markets. From the insect management perspective, it is extremely critical to adopt pest prevention practices; the high tunnel pest exclusion (HTPE) system is one of the best relatively-low cost pest preventive practices available to producers in the Southeast. This HTPE technology uses a variety of shade cloths for a relatively permanent pest prevention strategy. This bulletin provides information on the use of HTPE systems on the farm.
Physical Pest Exclusion with Shade Cloth
Alabama farmer Will Mastin describes his experience using shade cloth on a high tunnel to protect crops from some pests. Mastin's trials with shade cloth were funded by a grant from Southern SARE. Throughout his project, Mastin worked with Alabama Extension entomologist and Southern SARE state coordinator Dr. Ayanava Majumdar to improve the shade cloth technology. […]
Sustainable Blackberries and Raspberries
A handbook to guide growers in sustainable practices of fruit production from production practices to business management to marketing, for high tunnel and field production.