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Basics of Seasonal High Tunnel production

Basics of Seasonal High Tunnel Production

Inside a seasonal high tunnelSeasonal High Tunnels

  • Use a separate intense technology that allows crops to be planted several weeks earlier and later and eliminates considerable risk from weather and pests
  • Structures that resemble some greenhouses in appearance only
  • Plants are grown in the ground
  • Many shapes and sizes

Advantages of Seasonal High Tunnels

  • Greater plant yield potential
  • Crop mix diversity
  • Cost effective
  • Reduced reliance on pesticides
  • Compatible with organic production practices
  • 4-8 weeks earlier production in the spring
  • 2-5 weeks later possible production in the fall
  • Grow crops not usually grown in the area
  • Better disease control
  • Water control
  • Reduce cull fruit

Concerns of Seasonal High Tunnels

  • Cost involved
  • Planning
  • Education
  • Management
  • Time

Building a seasonal high tunnelYield Potential and Nutrient Need

  • Yields in a seasonal high tunnel can be 3-4 times the yield obtained in the field
  • Seasonal high tunnel yields will require more nutrients, but knowing how much to apply is a challenge

Common Mistakes Beginning Growers Make

  • Tunnels get too hot— greater than 130 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Lack of weed control inside and out
  • Poor water management
  • Not pruning and trellising

NRCS and Seasonal High Tunnels

  • Funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
  • EQIP is a voluntary program
  • EQIP offers financial assistance to producers to address resource concerns
  • Only eligible on cropland
  • Participants must successfully complete the project and are reimbursed
  • Applications are ranked to determine funding selections
  • Programs are under continuous sign-up
  • Cut-off dates are announced to establish funding periods

Eligibility for EQIP Funds

  • Must be engaged in agricultural production
  • Must own the land or have control of the land for the length of the contract
  • Comply with wetland and highly erodible land provisions of the Farm Bill
  • Meet U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) adjusted gross income (AGI) limits
  • Must be established as an eligible producer within the USDA record system before applying for EQIP—visit your local USDA Service Center

Financial Assistance to Build A Seasonal High Tunnel

  • Payment rates can be found at under Practice Payment Schedule
  • Historically underserved producers receive higher rates
  • The NRCS maximum payment is for a total of 2,178 square feet of seasonal high tunnels per ag operation, regardless of the number of seasonal high tunnels installed

Seasonal High Tunnel Requirements

  • Producer buys a seasonal high tunnel kit from a commercial manufacturer
  • Producer constructs the seasonal high tunnel according to the maker’s instructions and NRCS practice standard and specifications
  • Must build on cropland
  • Prepare the site including considerations for runoff and erosion control
  • Crops must be planted directly into the soil
  • Use a minimum of 6 mil greenhouse ultraviolet light resistant polyethylene cover
  • Maintain for 4 years—farmer is responsible for maintenance costs
  • Cannot be used for housing livestock

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Basics of Seasonal High Tunnel Production (PDF; 261 KB)