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High tunnels help small farmers protect and improve their operations by serving as a shelter from sun, pests and intense rain events. Farmers are adapting as average temperatures increase and heavy rain events become more frequent across the Northeastern United States.
At the Delaware State University (DSU) Outreach & Research Center, research faculty and Cooperative Extension specialists demonstrate a variety of practices to help local producers learn about how to adapt to a changing climate. DSU has constructed several different styles of high tunnel houses to demonstrate the pros and cons of each type to their local growers. They have both Quonset and gothic shaped houses. Styles include peaked houses, round houses, and a vented roof house with different types of doors and options for side ventilation. Additionally, the houses are situated in both a north-south and east-west orientation to demonstrate the potential differences in temperature and air flow.
High tunnels can extend the growing season by providing warmer temperatures in the shoulder seasons. They provide shelter from rain allowing more control of water resources. Also, crops grown in high tunnels tend to be affected by fewer pests. Take our tour to learn how these features helped high tunnel tomatoes outperform field tomatoes during two very different years in Delaware. During the tour, Dr. Rose Ogutu details the crops that growers can consider planting in their high tunnels each season and includes planting and growing considerations. Organic production, cover crops and the use of biochar are also discussed as you tour through tunnel houses and around the farm at Delaware State University Outreach and Research Center.
“Some crops, like tomatoes, are sensitive to excess moisture. Since the occurrence and severity of storms is expected to increase as climate changes, the use of high tunnels may become increasingly important.” - Dr. Rose Ogutu, Horticulture Specialist, Delaware State University
Available Resources from High Tunnels at DSU:
Hub Video Interviews
- Welcome from Dr. Rose Ogutu
- High Tunnel Crops
- High Tunnel Scotch Bonnet Peppers
- Field Scotch Bonnet Peppers
- Plastic Mulch
- Cover Crops
- Organic Blueberries
DSU Extention Blog Posts
- Scotch Bonnet Peppers
- Laying Plastic in a High Tunnel: A Step by Step Guide
- Organic Production
- High Tunnel Planting Scheduling: Working Out a Schedule for Successive Plantings
- Beware of High Tunnel Salt Build Up!
- The Concept of a Rain Shelter
- Water Management Plan for Your High Tunnel
- Possible Tomato Ripening Problems in High Tunnels
- High Tunnel Tomatoes Outperforming Field Tomatoes
- Shadecloth for Hot Season Vegetable and Fruit Production
- Pests in High Tunnels (Northeastern IPM Center)
- Delaware State University (DSU)
- NRCS High Tunnel Systems
- University of Maryland Extension: High Tunnel Tomatoes with Mite Infestations