High tunnel production is increasing in Iowa as they provide protection from wind and frost and help extend the growing season. Although production aspects inside high tunnels are similar to field production, high tunnel environment is challenging especially when it comes to temperature management. During summer, temperatures rise fairly quickly in high tunnels and can detrimentally affect crop growth and development. It is not uncommon to see temperatures above 100 degrees F inside high tunnels.
With growing demand for fresh and locally grown vegetables, growers are capitalizing on techniques such as the use of high tunnels for season extension. After a long duration crop such as tomato, planting a quick turnaround crop in high tunnels is a viable option to continue production and increase profitability. High tunnels are an excellent resource for early spring and late fall production of leafy vegetables such as lettuce. Use of plastic mulch as a weed management tool is common in field vegetable production.
Cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L.) are high yielding summer vegetables but are extremely frost-sensitive. Most vegetable growers in Iowa grow cucumbers and constantly explore ways to start the crop early in the spring. One method to extend the production season and start early production of cucumbers is using a high tunnel. A high tunnel helps protect plants from early season frost, warms the soil, increases ambient temperature, and enhances crop growth. High tunnel production is gaining popularity in the Midwest.
Sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is a warm-season vegetable crop that is widely grown throughout the world. In the United States, commercial production is mainly in the southern states. Many parts of the plant are edible, including leaves, roots, and vines. Tender leaves are a delicacy in a number of Asian and Southeast Asian countries. To grow successfully, sweet potatoes prefer both warm days and nights. Sweet potato plants require a long frost-free growing season to mature large, useful roots.
Sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is a warm-season vegetable predominantly grown in the southern part of the United States. In recent years, its production region has expanded quite rapidly to various Midwestern and Eastern states. Growing sweet potatoes in Iowa could be challenging especially due to the short growing season. The crop requires a long frost-free period and high soil and air temperatures to produce quality roots. Growing this crop on raised beds with plastic mulch could be an alternative technique as plastic mulch warms the soil and accelerates crop growth.