High Tunnel Production Workshops Offered in Early 2012

AMES, Iowa — Current commercial fruit or vegetable growers, gardeners interested in expanding into commercial production and traditional farmers interested in diversifying can learn more about high tunnel production at one of two upcoming workshops sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

On Jan. 18, a workshop will be held at the Cherokee County ISU Extension and Outreach office in Cherokee and a Feb. 4 workshop will be at Ellsworth Community College in the Ag and Renewable Energy Building, Room 110, in Iowa Falls.

“Like all farmers, fruit and vegetable growers attempt to get the greatest yields of high quality crops from their land,” said Linda Naeve, program coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach's Value Added Agriculture program. “This requires careful planning and using the right tools and strategies. Producing high value crops in high tunnels is one way growers can increase their production in a limited space.”

High tunnels are inexpensive, simple, passive-solar greenhouses in which crops are grown directly in the soil. They allow growers to extend the season and produce high yields of quality produce earlier than field-grown crops, thus commanding a higher price at market.

Topics to be covered at the workshop include site and high tunnel selection, construction, soil management, irrigation, pest management, bed design and cropping systems and business plan development.

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Pre-registration is required by calling Joe Hannan at 515-993-4281 or e-mailing at jmhannan@iastate.edu. Fees for the workshop are $55 per person or $90 per couple and include a training manual/workbook, lunch and refreshments.