High tunnels are an often overlooked structure, however high tunnel benefits are numerous and can give any business a boost. It’s easy to get enthralled with fancy commercial greenhouses that can be completely customized and outfitted with all of the required growing equipment. While these can be fantastic structures that maximize production, they aren’t the right choice for every operation. Often times the best choice is a high tunnel. While tunnels are much more simple in design, when used correctly they can improve production on any operation.
High tunnels, often referred to as hoop houses, are structures made of a pipe frame and are usually covered with greenhouse poly film. They are passive solar structures that protect crops, and there are numerous benefits to owning this type of structure.
Here are the top ten high tunnel benefits:
Extends the Growing Season
High tunnels allow growers to produce in-ground crops for a longer period during the year. They protect crops from cold temperatures and frost, as well as overly rainy seasons, so growers are able to start planting very early in the spring and harvest well into the fall.
Reasonable Price, Quick Return on Investment
Since Growers Supply manufactures GrowSpan High Tunnels in house, they are able to be economically priced. Despite the reasonable price, they are still strong and ultra dependable. They are constructed from 14 gauge, American-made steel, and they have been triple-galvanized to ensure corrosion resistance. The economical price, combined with the high tunnel’s superior functionality, allows growers to get a quick return on their investment. GrowSpan High Tunnels can reap payback with most crops in just two to three years.
Easy to Relocate
High tunnel structures are very simple to assemble and disassemble. They usually only require unbolting the rafters from the ground posts, removing the cover and moving the structure to a new location. The ground posts can be reused, but it is often times easier to order new ones. Once the structure is relocated, install the ground posts, bolt on the rafters and put the poly covering back on.
Easy to Expand
GrowSpan High Tunnels can quickly and easily be expanded lengthwise, and they can be expanded infinitely in length. This allows the structure to adapt to each operation’s needs; as the business growers, so can the structure.
Easy to Build
High tunnel benefits also pertain to their construction. They are easy to build, and can often times be built with just a couple people. These high tunnels come with instructions, and there are also a number of how-to videos on Growers Supply’s YouTube channel. Greenhouse Specialists are also available to help with any trouble shooting.
Many studies have proven that crops grown in a more ideal environment, which a high tunnel provides, grow more vigorously than in a field environment. The structure provides greater control over essential inputs, like water, fertilizer and temperature. The protection from harsh weather can also reduce lost crops, allowing growers to get more crops to market.
Reduces Need for Pesticides
The protected environment in the high tunnel also leads to a reduced occurrence of insect and mite pests. It also makes a less hospitable environment for diseases, reducing the occurrence of outbreaks. This allows growers to limit their dependence on pesticides and other chemicals.
Supports Soil Health
The health of an operation’s soil directly affects their ability to be successful. High tunnels keep the ground covered, so rain water does not cause runoff. This allows the soil to retain the fertilizers and nutrients that it has, allowing plants to thrive. For those that are looking for a tunnel that can accommodate their crop rotation, GrowSpan offers the Rolling Premium High Tunnel.
Allows for Crop Diversity
GrowSpan High Tunnels have been used all over the country, and the diversity of crops seems endless. They allow growers to experiment with early varieties and can also allow for multiple crop rotations within the season. Growers have found success cultivating leafy greens, vegetables, blueberries, cherries, grapes and much much more.
Easy to Ventilate
Standard options for most GrowSpan High Tunnels models are either Roll-Up or Drop-Down Sides, both of which provide easy manual ventilation. The main advantage to the Drop-Down Sides is where the air comes into the house and the temperature of the air. The air enters the structure above the plants, and as the air becomes warm, it rises. The plants themselves are not exposed to the cold air. Roll-Up Sides are a little easier to maintain and last longer, because they are rolled up and off the ground out of the way. Since Drop-Down Sides are on the ground when they are in the down position, they tend to collect water and get dirty. The main disadvantage of Roll-Up Sides is early in the morning when the tunnel is opened, cold air comes in at the plant level.
High tunnel benefits are seemingly endless. This article could easily be doubled in length, so the benefits have been limited to ten and the description limited in length. High tunnel benefits are wide in scope, and adding a tunnel can be a great addition to just about any operation, whether it’s a small retail location or a commercial production facility.