Top 5 Mistakes Made in a High Tunnel

Here are the top five most common mistakes I see when farmers start with new high tunnels. Number one is having an unclean environment within the high tunnel. Often we see farmers having pet plants or non-production type plants in the high tunnel. Pruning equipment. Trellising equipment. Weeds and all sorts of things that are not essential to growing the production crop. Those elements all are places that can harbor insects and pathogens causing problems down the road. Number two is having a site that was improperly prepared or having a high tunnel on the wrong site. A high tunnel should be in a full sun, fairly flat location with good drainage around and away from the high tunnel. You also want to make sure you get weeds under control before you build that high tunnel. If you’re coming into fresh grass or fresh sod there’s a big weed seedbank there that as soon as you till that ground all those weeds are going to be coming up. You’re going to be fighting that problem for the next two or three years. Number three is trying to do too many things at once. There’s a sharp learning curve when growing within high tunnels and a lot of times I see farmers trying to do too many crops. Too many different production systems and not really focusing and doing a good job on any of those. Number four I see a lot of farmers growing crops that really don’t belong in a high tunnel. There’s no advantage from having them out of the rain. They’re not a high value crop and they really don’t belong in high tunnel. Such as sweet corn. And number five, growers will not do a good job opening up the high tunnel and cooling that high tunnel and getting air flow going throughout that high tunnel. You’ve got to open up that high tunnel. You don’t need it to be 90 degrees in there. Shoot for 75 to 85 degrees and you also want to make sure that air is moving through that high tunnel. Very commonly do I see either poor pollination from it being too hot in the high tunnel or a lot of leaf mold on plants from not getting enough air flow moving through that high tunnel. So watch out for these five common mistakes within your high tunnel. Here are my top 10 tips for building a high tunnel. Number one make sure that you have a suitable site. Control the weeds before building the high tunnel make sure it’s flat and make sure it’s well drained.

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