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
2017 Florida Strawberry Picking Challenge winners
Berries
February 22, 2017
Florida Strawberry Picking Contest a Big Winner for Charity
Fourth-annual fundraising event brings in more than $100,000 to benefit children of local farmworkers. Read More
Florida potato field in bloom.
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Sucking, Chewing Pests
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Farms Get Bigger Even as the Number of Farms Decline
A new report from USDA shows long-term trends continuing: fewer farms and fewer acres used in farming even as individual operations get bigger on average. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Wild Bee Populations Are out of Sync With Crop Needs
Some crops most dependent on pollinators, including pumpkins, watermelons, pears, peaches, plums, apples and blueberries, appeared to have the strongest pollination mismatch. Read More
Basic tractor on the horizon
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture Growing [Opinion]
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Cartoon sketch of a citrus seed machine
Varieties & Rootstocks
February 22, 2017
Citrus Nurseries Analyze the Need for Seed
It seems many growers are more certain about their scion choices than they are about available rootstocks. Read More
Food Safety Modernization Act moving at snail's pace
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping Forward
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 21, 2017
Snow Doesn’t Stop Day 1 of IFTA Conference
While the Wenatchee, WA, area has experienced higher-than expected snowfall, tour-goers trudge on to learn the latest about advanced production systems and high-value apple varieties. Read More
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wine Purchasing
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
citrus psyllid closeup
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
The Latest
Berries
February 22, 2017
Florida Strawberry Picking Contest a Big…
Fourth-annual fundraising event brings in more than $100,000 to benefit children of local farmworkers. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Suck…
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Farms Get Bigger Even as the Number of F…
A new report from USDA shows long-term trends continuing: fewer farms and fewer acres used in farming even as individual operations get bigger on average. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2017
Wild Bee Populations Are out of Sync Wit…
Some crops most dependent on pollinators, including pumpkins, watermelons, pears, peaches, plums, apples and blueberries, appeared to have the strongest pollination mismatch. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
Skilled Labor Needed to Keep Agriculture…
Even with the challenge of feeding a growing global population at hand, has focus been lost on recruiting where jobs on the farm are need most? Read More
Varieties & Rootstocks
February 22, 2017
Citrus Nurseries Analyze the Need for Se…
It seems many growers are more certain about their scion choices than they are about available rootstocks. Read More
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping F…
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 21, 2017
Snow Doesn’t Stop Day 1 of IFTA Conferen…
While the Wenatchee, WA, area has experienced higher-than expected snowfall, tour-goers trudge on to learn the latest about advanced production systems and high-value apple varieties. Read More
Grapes
February 18, 2017
Sustainability Is a Growing Factor in Wi…
California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance updates certification program, shows sustainability is important part of wine trade. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
February 18, 2017
The War on Citrus Psyllids Still Raging
Despite control challenges, keeping the pest in check remains the best approach to managing HLB. Read More
Citrus
February 17, 2017
How Precision Agriculture Is Helping Far…
New Florida-based organization is seeking to break down barriers between farmers and shoppers by providing a platform to not only show what is grown, but how it's grown. Read More
Grapes
February 17, 2017
Washington Organization Rebrands Itself
Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers unveils new identity at convention, now known as Washington Winegrowers Association. Read More
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a …
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Equipment
February 17, 2017
Wanted: Tech Innovators for Drone Challe…
Land O'Lakes Prize offers up $150,000 to help make drones more useable for farmers Read More
Fruits
February 17, 2017
Are Drones the Future of Pollination?
Researchers in Japan have turned drones into robot bees as artificial pollinators. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Start-Up Hort Tech Companies Honor…
Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology Scholarships promote sustainability. Read More
GenNext Growers
February 16, 2017
Young Farmer Success Act Reintroduced to…
Bill to add young growers to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Read More
Fruits
February 16, 2017
New App Helps Fruit Growers Calculate Ch…
App helps growers calculate chill hours based on locations and models and assess physiological needs of fruit crops. Read More