Thursday, August 26, 2010

Creating New Market Opportunities With High Tunnel Greenhouses workshop by U of F IFAS extension

Dear Growers and IFAS Professors,
Thanks for allowing me to attend your very informative workshop day. I learned a lot about high tunnel greenhouses and their applications in Florida, specifically at  Farmville Organics in Ft. Pierce.  I never knew the market was first developed in Europe and that we here in the States are so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to using of this technology. But we are learning and changing for the better it seems, at least by the number of people that attended yesterday.

The tunnels help reduce water  (acre-inch) use in frost prevention techniques to nothing, at least according to a 2007 to 2009 study, by Dr. Bielinski Santos, Asst. Professor of Horticulture, Gulf Cast Research and Educational Center, Balm, Florida. Dr. Santos said, even with just a roof over the plants the ambient air temperature in the tunnels increased in winter to keep strawberries in Plant City, FL warm during a frost event in the winter of 2009 (outside 27 degrees, inside 43 degrees). Tunnels also help with crop diversification, early production edge, reduction of foliar & fruit disease, according to Dr. Santos.

This technology, when perfected for Florida (excessive heat in the tunnels in summer is a problem), could allow the growing season to go longer than the typical one from September to May, helping the State to become more competitive with other markets.

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