HIGH TUNNELS EXTEND THE SEASON FOR TOMATOES

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  • 1 Departments of Plant Biology and Resource Economics & Development, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824.

High tunnels (unheated walk-in structures) are widely utilized in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East for early vegetable production. There are relatively few high tunnels used for vegetable production in the U.S. In a 2-year study, determinate tomatoes matured up to 32 days earlier than the same cultivars under standard field culture. Earliness was gained through 16 days earlier planting and 16 days earlier maturity than in the field. In tunnels, when ground grown, yield was 7.4 kg m-1; and when grown with a basketweave trellis, yield was 6.8 kg m-1. Even though these yields (for a 30-day period) were less than the yields from the field, the earlier harvest provides an extra marketing opportunity at premium prices. Under current production and marketing conditions in New Hampshire, at a conservative average selling price of $1.60/lb, the net return is $0.71/1b. By using relatively low cost tunnels, growers are able to economically extend their growing and marketing season without a high capital outlay.

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