High-tunnel construction field day set for April 29

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Farm Forum

North Dakota State University, the NDSU Extension Service and the Cass County Extension office will host a high-tunnel construction field day at the NDSU Horticulture Research Farm near Absaraka. The field day is scheduled for April 29 beginning at 10 a.m.

High tunnels are simple structures used to extend the growing season for horticultural crops such as vegetables, small fruits and cut flowers. While they resemble greenhouses, the structures are much more economical and less labor-intensive to construct. They consist of simple frames covered by a single plastic layer. Most high tunnels are not heated; nor do they require electricity to operate.

“High tunnels have become increasingly popular in North Dakota among horticultural producers who sell at farmers’ markets,” says Harlene Hatterman-Valenti, NDSU Plant Sciences Department professor and high-value crop researcher. “In some cases, producers can extend their growing season by two months.”

“The field day is designed for producers and community gardens that are considering high-tunnel production,” says Esther McGinnis, NDSU Extension horticulturist and assistant professor. “This is their opportunity to watch and even participate in construction of a 96-foot by 30-foot high tunnel and to ask questions.”

NDSU received funding from the North Dakota Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to study high-tunnel production in Williston, Bottineau and Absaraka. This is a collaborative project with the NDSU Williston Research Extension Center and Dakota College’s Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture.

Once the high tunnels are constructed, researchers will begin studying the production of different vegetables and cut flowers with the goal of determining the best varieties for North Dakota. Research will also include production economics and creating a community of practice to extend the information to interested producers.

Attending the field day is free of charge, but advance registration is required by April 25. Find more information and register at http://goo.gl/forms/IEYKBCx0T4. Lunch will be provided.

For more information, contact Esther McGinnis at 701-231-7406 or esther.mcginnis@ndsu.edu.