Improved Tunnel Technology

When high tunnels first came on the scene, the structures were rather simple and lightweight and couldn’t handle much snow. Today, high tunnels are not only larger, but also sturdier than their past counterparts, and they are garnering attention from virtually all growers.

American/Western Fruit Grower caught up with several suppliers and manufacturers of high tunnels to find out where they think the future of the industry is headed and how technology changes will enhance high tunnel production.

According to Mark Davis, owner of Atlas Manufacturing, today’s high tunnels should be classified as two distinct products. One is a small, single-bay structure that is typically used by the farm marketer to capture the early and late-season markets. The other is a much larger, multi-bay tunnel system that is used by commercial growers for mass production.

Multi-bay tunnels not only allow for additional production, they allow growers to get more consistent temperatures. According to Louis Charbonneau, president of Plastitech, the climate is better in a multibay tunnel, as the wind effect is not the same as it is in a single tunnel. “With just one bay you will never get the same result as a three-bay high tunnel,” he explains. “The temperatures are more uniform in a three- or four-
bay high tunnel, which is more of a microclimate.”

Today, high tunnels are available that feature higher roll-up sides and roof vents for ventilation. “Unlike roll-up curtains, which can expose crops to cold air, drop-down curtains allow ventilation higher on the tunnel’s sidewalls, protecting crops,” says Barry Goldsher, president of Growers Supply.

The Future Of Film

In the area of coverings or films for high tunnels, Goldsher adds that traditional greenhouse film soon will be replaced by woven polyethylene films. “These reinforced films, such as our PolyMax greenhouse coverings, will last six to 10 years, which is much longer than traditional film. This type of covering creates diffused, uniform light, which eliminates overheating and helps create a healthier growing environment.”

Ralph Cramer of Haygrove Tunnels also says that traditional film is becoming a thing of the past since light diffusing, infrared blocking poly films are now available. He adds that more types of “specialist” films will come on the scene. These types of films will be used by growers with specific needs. For example, he says these films will be used to help a grower create an environment that will delay harvest so he can hit a specific market or reduce stem length.

Tunnel Tech’s Bill Nightingale agrees that high tunnel films will continue to evolve. In fact, he says that films of the future will adapt to the changing climate conditions, retaining heat on cold days and reducing heat on extremely hot days.

“The trick,” he adds, “will be to make the films cost-efficient.”

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Pest Control
March 22, 2017
Fear of GMOs is Impacting Quality Food Research [Opinion]
Perhaps the greatest threat to our industry is a public that values instinctual opinion over careful research and the findings of experts who have dedicated years to their field of study. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenges
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Production
March 22, 2017
Weighing the Good and Bad of Six Soilless Media Options
Trying to decide which growing media is the right one for your greenhouse vegetable production? Take a look at these six options. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Proposed USDA, EPA Budget Cuts
New plan would slash USDA spending by 21%. Read More
Freeze protected peach trees in Florida
Cold Protection
March 21, 2017
Freezing Temperatures Hit South Carolina Crops Hard
Peaches, blueberries, and strawberries among crops damaged. Read More
fork digging into a plate full of salad
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Since When Did Eating Get So Complicated? [Opinion]
The bottom line to all this is the way we eat is undergoing massive disruption. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 21, 2017
Two More Lost Apple Varieties Found In Steptoe Butte
Amateur apple detective strikes again with two more finds in abandoned orchards near state park. Read More
Generic produce clamshell packaging
GenNext Growers
March 20, 2017
Packaging: A Powerful Way for Farmers to Reach Consumers
Growers have few opportunities to communicate with end users. Paying mind to what’s on the outside can help sell a lot of what’s inside. Read More
Organic potato grower staring at his crops
Crop Protection
March 20, 2017
Biologicals Gaining Acceptance Among More Growers
Driven by new innovation and consumer demand, growers look to the biocontrol sector for new solutions. Read More
Alternaria leaf and pod spot of snap bean
Disease Control
March 17, 2017
Prevent Alternaria from Putting Your Snap Beans on the Spot
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
Cranes at the Port Tampa Bay
Farm Management
March 17, 2017
Unfair Trade Taking Its Toll on Florida Farmers
Local grower community hopeful over President Trump’s announced intention to renegotiate NAFTA. Read More
Swadesh Santra of UCF
Citrus
March 16, 2017
UCF Stepping up to Be Farming’s Knight in Shining Armor
Hopes are high that the school's new agriculture research center will help growers solve production issues and feed the globe. Read More
A.H. Whitmore Farm in Leesburg, FL, as seen from Google Earth
Varieties & Rootstocks
March 16, 2017
Experimental Citrus Groves Disappearing in Florida
Challenges to growth expand as vital research is in dire need of a home. Read More
Frozen blueberries
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Growers the Chills
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
GenNext Growers
March 15, 2017
Introducing Technology, Farm Transitions among Topics at IFTA Young Grower Reception
Event brought together the next generation of tree fruit growers and young professionals in the industry. Read More
The Latest
Pest Control
March 22, 2017
Fear of GMOs is Impacting Quality Food R…
Perhaps the greatest threat to our industry is a public that values instinctual opinion over careful research and the findings of experts who have dedicated years to their field of study. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenge…
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
Production
March 22, 2017
Weighing the Good and Bad of Six Soilles…
Trying to decide which growing media is the right one for your greenhouse vegetable production? Take a look at these six options. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Industry Groups, Ag Leaders React to Pro…
New plan would slash USDA spending by 21%. Read More
Cold Protection
March 21, 2017
Freezing Temperatures Hit South Carolina…
Peaches, blueberries, and strawberries among crops damaged. Read More
Citrus
March 21, 2017
Since When Did Eating Get So Complicated…
The bottom line to all this is the way we eat is undergoing massive disruption. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 21, 2017
Two More Lost Apple Varieties Found In S…
Amateur apple detective strikes again with two more finds in abandoned orchards near state park. Read More
GenNext Growers
March 20, 2017
Packaging: A Powerful Way for Farmers to…
Growers have few opportunities to communicate with end users. Paying mind to what’s on the outside can help sell a lot of what’s inside. Read More
Crop Protection
March 20, 2017
Biologicals Gaining Acceptance Among Mor…
Driven by new innovation and consumer demand, growers look to the biocontrol sector for new solutions. Read More
Disease Control
March 17, 2017
Prevent Alternaria from Putting Your Sna…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
Farm Management
March 17, 2017
Unfair Trade Taking Its Toll on Florida …
Local grower community hopeful over President Trump’s announced intention to renegotiate NAFTA. Read More
Citrus
March 16, 2017
UCF Stepping up to Be Farming’s Kn…
Hopes are high that the school's new agriculture research center will help growers solve production issues and feed the globe. Read More
Varieties & Rootstocks
March 16, 2017
Experimental Citrus Groves Disappearing …
Challenges to growth expand as vital research is in dire need of a home. Read More
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Grower…
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
GenNext Growers
March 15, 2017
Introducing Technology, Farm Transitions…
Event brought together the next generation of tree fruit growers and young professionals in the industry. Read More
Citrus
March 15, 2017
Group Wants To Streamline Food Safety Re…
There are 15 federal agencies implement more than 30 different food safety statutes. A team of experts believe they have a solution. Read More
Marketing
March 15, 2017
Florida Peaches Scoring Points with Cons…
Snack-sized fruit presents unique marketing opportunity for growers. Read More
Nuts
March 15, 2017
Efforts to Thwart Nut Thefts Ramping up …
Ordinance revisions to end cash sales, include a 10-day hold on payments. Read More