What Plan Do You Have in Place for Your High Tunnel?

Rose Ogutu, Horticulture Specialist, Delaware State University rogutu@desu.edu

High tunnels allow growers to produce crops earlier and later in a normal growing season. They create an environment one hardiness zone warmer than the field. Any crop can be grown in a high tunnel, but the limited space is valuable and growers need to choose what to grow wisely to maximize production and revenue. Enterprise budgets of estimated costs and returns from various crops in high tunnels can help you decide on what to grow.

Monocrop or Multicrop system?

If your niche requires large continuous volumes of a particular crop, a monocrop system of a commodity may be most efficient.

If you sell through farmers markets, roadside stands, or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) then you need to produce a variety of items through a multi-crop system.

Succession planting or intercropping planting system?

Optimize the use of the space in the high tunnel through succession planting and intercropping.

In succession planting;
● After one crop is harvested, another is planted in the same space. For example, a cool season crop could be followed by a warm season crop.

● The same crop is planted at timed intervals so they mature at different times.

● Varieties of the same crop with different maturity dates are planted at the same time.

In intercropping;
● A fast-maturing crop, such as lettuce, is planted between rows of a slower-maturing crop, such as tomatoes or peppers. The lettuce is harvested before the larger, later maturing crop takes that space.

To learn more about high tunnel vegetable production plan to attend our workshop on May 2; details are online here.