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Newsletter - Season extension

Local food growers who use season extension may see multiple benefits.  Yields and quality can be improved.  Growers can also be first to market with earlier crops and produce longer into the fall.

Growing in a high tunnel, a.k.a. hoop house, or using other means of season extension come with a unique set of challenges; different pests and diseases, crop rotation, irrigation management, etc.

So, here are some resources and educational opportunities for those looking to add season extension to their farming mix or make improvements to existing practices.

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In the news:  Extending Minnesota’s growing season

Go back in history to 2008, when high tunnel production was starting to take off in MN.  This MPR story profiles a farm in northern MN and talks tunnels with now retired Extension Educator, Terry Nennich.


Resource:  UMN high tunnel website

So much here! 
  • Basic management info
  • Structures
  • Crop specific recommendations
  • Economics and marketing
  • High tunnel conference presentations
  • Additional resources


Educational opportunity:  High tunnel and farm tour

Date:  August 8th, 2016
Location:  Tour leaves from Little Falls, will visit two farms
Cost:  $15
Preregistration:  Required
Deadline:  July 30th

In addition to the farm visits, topics and speakers include;
Dr. Angela Orshinsky and Dr. Chris Phillips, University of Minnesota
  • High tunnel integrated pest management
  • Pest and disease scouting
  • Spotted wing drosophila
Terry Nennich, UMN Extension, Emeritus
  • High tunnel research results
  • Successful high tunnel production

Resource:  UMN low tunnel strawberries

Research at the West Central Research and Outreach Center has shown great results from low tunnel strawberry production.  Their website features articles on different aspects of the production system as they go through the growing season. 

If you’re interested in this system, I highly recommend the free eBook "Cold climate strawberry farming” featured on this site.


Educational opportunity:  Build a low tunnel

At this event, you can participate in the construction of a low tunnel!  A tour will also include growing techniques and tips for day-neutral strawberry cultivars in the Upper Midwest.

The tour is part of the annual Horticulture Night at the West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris.  

Date:  Thursday, July 28, 2016
Time:  Tour times are at 5:15 and 7:15 pm.  
Location:  West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris


Video:  Growing raspberries in high tunnels

This short video goes over some basic considerations of high tunnel raspberry production including cultivar selection, layout, and a primer on spotted wing drosophila.


Recorded presentation:  Increasing vegetable production with economical season extension

High tunnels are not the only game in ‘season extension town'.  In this recorded presentation, Terry Nennich, UMN Extension Emeritus, discusses…
  • Raised beds
  • Plastic mulch
  • Row covers
  • Low tunnels


Because it’s hot (especially in a high tunnel!):  Heat illness and agriculture

Work still needs to get done despite how unpleasant the weather may be.  This Penn State Extension article goes over the risks, symptoms and strategies for dealing with excessive heat on the farm.  A few of their tips include…
  • Drink approximately 8 oz. (1 cup) of water about every 15–30 minutes. (Note: Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water!)
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, drugs and large amounts of sugar because they can speed up the dehydration process.
  • If you are a farm owner or manager, educate your workers about the prevention and emergency response of heat-related illnesses. Also observe your employees for heat related problems as well.


That's it for this week, have a great weekend!



Additional resources

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