More and more area farmers are using high tunnel structures that extend the growing season and improve profits. The inexpensive greenhouse-like buildings are covered with plastic and allow sunlight to enter. The structures retain heat so farmers can plant fruits and vegetables earlier and later compared to raising them outdoors.
Early-season tomatoes, for instance, can be worth as much as $2 per pound. Later, when the market is saturated, prices drop to around 50 cents.
High tunnel production is rapidly expanding in Iowa, according to agriculture experts. Locally-grown food continues to increase in popularity, and farmers are cashing in on the trend.
"High tunnels offer growers a chance to extend the growing (and selling) season by up to six weeks on each end," said Iowa State University Extension value added agriculture program specialist Linda Naeve.
Naeve says people can learn more about high tunnel buildings during a ISU workshop in Decorah from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 29th. To sign up call (515) 294-8946. The registration deadline is this Friday.
The exact location of the seminar will only be revealed to people who register. Topics covered in the workshop will include site selection, construction, soil management, irrigation and pest management.