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Extension > Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships > Central > High Tunnel Research, Demonstration and Education

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High Tunnel Research, Demonstration and Education

Purpose

University soil and horticulture faculty led research, demonstration and education in the
use of high tunnels to extend the growing season in Zone 3. Work included high tunnel research in vegetable varieties, nutrient management, irrigation and season-long demonstrations and education events. Numerous growers have invested in high tunnels as a result of this research.

Partners

Local citizen/producers participated in the research, providing some labor and inputs for the project. At least 10 high tunnels were erected by local farmers for the following growing season.   Project leaders included several University faculty and Extension educators.  University researchers worked with Central Lakes College Ag staff and citizens in daily monitoring and maintenance of the tunnel, harvesting and selling produce.

Activities

Outcomes

Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, carrots, beets, glads, broccoli and other crops were planted the first week in May. Tomatoes were harvested about 30 days earlier in the high tunnels with yields of 15-25 pounds per plant depending on variety. Tomatoes planted in the outside plots yielded less than five pounds per plant. Tomatoes were also harvested as much as three weeks later in the fall.  Outside tomatoes were under strong disease pressure; there were no like diseases in the high tunnel and no chemical applications of fungicides were used. The plants inside remained healthy until the tunnels were terminated in mid-October. Yields of cucumbers in the high tunnels averaged nearly 35 pounds per plant and harvest started early June.  Initial observations and research indicate yields of tomatoes and other crops in the high tunnel could be increased by increasing plant density and strategic spacing.

Funding

$41,650 from the CRSDP

Leveraged resources

Cooperating Farmers (In-Kind) $18,000.00
Green Lands, Blue Waters Project: UM College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences $4,450.00
Initiative Foundation $2,000.00
University of Minnesota Extension Service (In-Kind) $7,500.00
College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (In-Kind) $5,500.00

Last updated 12-31-2005
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