Keeping Your Hoophouse Busy. Collin Thompson Farm Manager The North Farm at the MSU UP Research & Extension Center

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1 Keeping Your Hoophouse Busy Collin Thompson Farm Manager The North Farm at the MSU UP Research & Extension Center

2 Where I Began River Root Farm Decorah Iowa ~13,000 Ft 2 of covered growing space 4,320 Ft 2 of movable Four Season Tools Decorah, IA/Kansas City, MO Manufacturer of movable and stationary high tunnel structures Full line of small- scale agricultural tools and products

3 Where I Am Now The North Farm Chatham, MI Michigan State University education and research farm Farm incubator program On- site workshops, trainings, and short courses Ongoing agricultural research Active production of agricultural products ~8,000 Ft 2 of covered growing space 2576 Ft 2 of movable

4 Style of Agriculture Organic Production Principles Small- Mid Scale Intensive Plantings Minimal Mechanization

5 Topic Overview Technologies and Types of Structures Uses of Hoophouse Structures Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing Water Management Planting Schedules and Planning Tools for Hoophouse Production

6 Technologies and Type of Structure Hoophouse Structure glazed with polyethylene (greenhouse plastic) that is used to extend the growing season High Tunnel Same as hoophouse. Term used to emphasize importance of low tunnel use inside high tunnel Greenhouse Typically a more permanent structure, often with supplemental heat

7 Technologies and Type of Structure Low Tunnels/Row Covers Caterpillar Tunnels Hoophouses/High Tunnels Low supports made of wire conduit or PVC for fabric or plastic covers Offers frost protection in the field or hoophouse Serves as a physical pest barrier and offers wind protection Maximizes effect of hoophouse for season extension Different types of row cover Relatively small investment $0.136 / Square Foot Cost

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9 Technologies and Type of Structure Low Tunnels/Row Covers Caterpillar Tunnels Hoophouses/High Tunnels Larger growing space meaning greater thermal gain and working environment Typically uses very basic plastic attachment technology and ventilation Often viewed as 3- season structures in area with snow Can be bought as kits or bent on- farm Slightly larger investment $1.76 / Square Foot Cost

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11 Technologies and Type of Structure Low Tunnels/Row Covers Caterpillar Tunnels Hoophouses/High Tunnels Large structures designed for 3-4 season production Maximum thermal gain and pleasant working environment Varying materials, but generally galvanized steel frame Pre- bent kits or bend- your- own Varying levels of automation Larger investment $2.95+ / Square Foot Cost

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13 Technologies and Type of Structure Quonset Cathedral Gable Gothic

14 Technologies and Type of Structure Movable vs. Fixed Structures Movable Allows multiple plots to be covered per year Allows for natural rotations Plant- positive Expensive Fixed Permanent and simple Minimizes weed pressure Easier access to utilities Limits rotations

15 Topic Overview Technologies and Types of Structures Uses of Hoophouse Structures Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing Water Management Planting Schedules and Planning Tools for Hoophouse Production

16 Uses of Hoophouse Structures In- ground production Production of annual/perennial crops in a protected space Increase quality of harvested product Maximize soil inputs 500 mile rule

17 Uses of Hoophouse Structures Transplant Production Protected space for starting seeds for in- ground production Heated or unheated Bench top growing comfortable working conditions Provides head start to outdoor season High quality transplants

18 Uses of Hoophouse Structures Interior room Allows for efficient use of heat Bench layout Maximizes usable space

19 Uses of Hoophouse Structures Processing Area Warm area for cool- season vegetable processing Protected from wind, rain, and pests Ready access to water Harvested product can stay in structure for processing

20 Uses of Hoophouse Structures Curing Storage Crops Crops like onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, and squash need to be cured to maximize storage life Warm environment for efficient curing Shade cloth can be installed to provide protection from sun

21 Topic Overview Technologies and Types of Structures Uses of Hoophouse Structures Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing Water Management Planting Schedules and Planning Tools for Hoophouse Production

22 Indoor Vs. Outdoor Growing Management intensive Water Nutrients Pest Disease Weeds Ventilation Longer season = more plantings Vertical production pruning & trellising Concerns with crop rotations Crop economics can drive usage of space valuable ground!

23 Topic Overview Technologies and Types of Structures Uses of Hoophouse Structures Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing Water Management Planting Schedules and Planning Tools for Hoophouse Production

24 Water Management Types of Irrigation Systems Drip Irrigation Efficient use of water Low flow/pressure requirements Can be used with mulches Can interfere with weed management Works best on loamy- clay soils Overhead Irrigation Mimics rain Higher flow/pressure requirements Even wetting of soil surface More evaporation = less efficient Works better on sandy soils

25 Water Management Calculating Water Usage Necessary Information 1 Acre inch = approx. 27,000 gallons 1 Acre = 43,560 Ft 2 Flow Rate and Pressure of System Flow Rate and Type of Irrigation Drip/Overhead Calculate by length or area and time Hose and Breaker Fill a bucket

26 Water Management Calculating Water Usage Constants for System 8 mil drip line 12 inch emitter spacing 0.22 gpm/100 linear feet Flow Rate/Bed 30 (2.5 ) x 140 beds = 350 ft 2 2 drip lines/bed = 280 linear feet 280 linear feet = gpm Water Requirements/Bed 1 Acre Inch Equivalent / bed 350 ft 2 /43,560ft 2 = acres/bed 27,000 gallons * = 217 gallons/week/bed

27 Water Management Calculating Water Usage Constants from Previous Calculations gpm 217 gallons/week/bed Irrigation Time 217 gallons/0.616 gpm = 352 minutes 352 minutes/60 minutes = 5.8 hours Options: 7 50 minutes 5 70 minutes *3 117 minutes* minutes

28 Water Management Calculating Water Usage Constants for System Mini- wobbler overhead sprinkler 20 spacing 0.5 gpm/wobbler flow rate Area 40 diameter, overlapped pattern 30 x 140 = 4,200 ft length = 6 wobblers * 2 lines = 12 wobblers Water Requirements/Plot 1 Acre Inch Equivalent / plot 4,200 ft 2 /43,560ft 2 = 0.1 acres/plot 27,000 gallons * 0.1 = 2,700 gallons/week/plot

29 Water Management Calculating Water Usage Constants from Previous Calculations 0.5 gpm/wobbler 2,700 gallons/week/plot 12 wobblers Irrigation Time.5 gpm * 12 wobblers = 6 gpm 2,700 gallons/6 gpm = 450 minutes 352 minutes/60 minutes = 7.5 hours Options: 7 64 minutes 5 90 minutes *3 150 minutes* minutes

30 Topic Overview Technologies and Types of Structures Uses of Hoophouse Structures Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing Water Management Planting Schedules and Planning Tools for Hoophouse Production

31 Planting Schedules and Planning Plan around the harvest Work backwards from transplant, harvest, etc. Successions make use of the valuable space! Rotations within a structure Rotations with movable structures Transplants for outdoor production Plant for the season Cold season crops spinach, kale, chard, arugula, lettuces, radish, carrots, beets Warm season crops tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, ginger, flowers

32 Planting Schedules and Planning Example Tomatoes Specifics Seed Start Date: March 15 Transplant Date: May 1 Spacing: Single Row/bed, 21 in- row Estimated First Harvest: July 7 Estimated Yield: 15#/plant Culture Indeterminate: Long and Continuous Prune and trellis Determinate: Quick and Heavy Terminal clusters, bush type Recommendations Mulch with drip irrigation Soil fertility and water access are essential for maximum yields.

33 Planting Schedules and Planning Example Spring Carrots Specifics Seed Start Date: March 1 Spacing: 12 Rows/bed, 1 in- row Estimated First Harvest: May 20 Care Low tunnel covered with floating row cover Stale bed or flame weed to suppress weeds Manage moisture with overhead irrigation Recommendations Deeply worked, loose, and well- draining soil Constant moisture essential at germination takes over a week Harvest at small size for maximum flavor and crunch

34 Topic Overview Technologies and Types of Structures Uses of Hoophouse Structures Indoor vs. Outdoor Growing Water Management Planting Schedules and Planning Tools for Hoophouse Production

35 Tools for Hoophouse Production Tools are designed for flexibility, ergonomics, and maneuverability Use concepts from larger equipment, but purpose built for hand scale Seeding Bed Prep/Transplanting Cultivation Harvest

36 Tools for Hoophouse Production Tools are designed for flexibility, ergonomics, and maneuverability Use concepts from larger equipment, but purpose built for hand scale Seeding Bed Prep/Transplanting Cultivation Harvest

37 Tools for Hoophouse Production Tools are designed for flexibility, ergonomics, and maneuverability Use concepts from larger equipment, but purpose built for hand scale Seeding Bed Prep/Transplanting Cultivation Harvest

38 Tools for Hoophouse Production Tools are designed for flexibility, ergonomics, and maneuverability Use concepts from larger equipment, but purpose built for hand scale Seeding Bed Prep/Transplanting Cultivation Harvest

39 Questions? Visit us at: or Collin Thompson, Farm Manager

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