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Tomato production in high tunnels workshop Sept. 10

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High stakes: Tomato production in hoop houses

Hosted by Dilmun Hill Student Organic Farm, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

Saturday September 10 at 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM

Extending the New York growing season with unheated greenhouses (also called high tunnels or hoop houses) is a growing technology with organic vegetable farmers. At this workshop led by one of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s vegetable specialists, we will discuss the production of tomatoes in high tunnels, strategies to manage soil and plant nutrient levels, tomato disease management, and other topics in Dilmun Hill’s new moveable high tunnel. All knowledge and experience levels are welcome.

More info.

High tunnel rises at Dilmun Hill Student Farm

Reposted from Cornell Horticulture blog:

A production-scale high tunnel is rising at Dilmun Hill Student Farm, adjacent to the Cornell University campus. Once complete, it will not only extend the growing season for the farm, but also serve as an educational resource for the many classes that visit the farm.  A high tunnel production workshop series is being planned in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension that will draw on the knowledge and experience of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates across many different departments.

Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) staff, along with members of the Dilmun Hill Steering Committee, have been laying the groundwork at the high tunnel site since early spring, grading the land, spreading and incorporating compost, and installing the foundation. This past Wednesday afternoon, they made short work of installing the frame. (See time-lapse video.)

The high tunnel was made possible by the Toward Sustainability Foundation grant program. Undergraduate Steering Committee member and former Dilmun Hill Farm Manager Alena Hutchinson (Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, ’18) secured funding for the tunnel, and worked with builder Howard Hoover of Penn Yan, N.Y., to design a custom tunnel to meet the specialized needs of small- and medium-sized growers in Upstate New York.

The tunnel will feature a solar-powered, automated sidewall system designed by Hutchinson and fellow undergraduate engineering students to make ventilating the structure easier.

Another innovative feature of the high tunnel:  It is mounted on rails, so that the tunnel can be easily moved between two different growing areas.  Along with increasing production capacity, this design has environmental benefits, such as making crop rotation possible and allowing rain to leach salt from soil, avoiding the salt build up that can be a problem with stationary high tunnels.

Detailed design plans and assembly manuals for all aspects of the tunnel will be available upon the tunnel’s completion. For questions and/or if you want to be involved in the project, contact Alena Hutchinson (

Hutchinson and CUAES technician Ethan Tilebein begin rafter intallation.

Hutchinson and CUAES technician Ethan Tilebein begin rafter intallation.

Betsy Leonard, CUAES organic farm coordinator, and Glen Evans, CUAES operations director, install sidewalls.

Betsy Leonard, CUAES organic farm coordinator, and Glen Evans, CUAES operations director, install sidewalls.

Anja Timm, CUAES communications coordinator, Hutchinson and Evans work on sidewall. Note roller and rail that allow the high tunnel to be moved easily.

Anja Timm, CUAES communications coordinator, Hutchinson and Evans work on sidewall. Note roller and rail (lower right) that allow the high tunnel to be moved easily.

Tilebein, Hutchinson and Thompson Research Farm farm manager Steve McKay install rafters.

Tilebein, Hutchinson and CUAES Thompson Research Farm farm manager Steve McKay install rafters.

McKay secures ridgepole.

McKay secures ridgepoles.

Update [2017-07-29]

On June 28, while still under construction, the tunnel took it’s first trip, traveling from a fallow area to an area newly planted with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

Two Spotted Spider Mites in High Tunnels and Greenhouses

From Judson Reid, CCE Cornell Vegetable Program. This article originally appeared in VEGEdge (Volume 12, Issue 12, July 6, 2016). Reposted with permission.

Two Spotted Spider Mites (TSSM) are at high levels in many greenhouse/high tunnels across the region. The pest has risen to damaging populations in crops such as peppers, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. Often they are in high numbers on weeds, which serve as green bridges into vegetables. When not controlled, TSSM will destroy a crop.

Look for stippling, or small white dots on the surface of foliage. TSSM, their webs and eggs can be found on the underside of leaves, except when in very high numbers when they will move throughout the canopy. For many, a 10x hand-lens will aid in scouting.

tssm on tomato

Two spotted spider mints on high tunnel tomato. Mites, webbing and feeding damage visible. Photo: Judson Reid, Cornell Vegetable Program.

TSSM overwinters in New York State in the soil or crop debris. Controlling weeds and reducing dust (with mulch) are the first preventative steps.

Biological control is possible with TSSM and releases of predators must begin very early. Phytoseiulus persimilis can be effective, but requires high relative humidity to survive, so may require repeat releases. Other beneficials to control TSSM includ Feltiella acarisuga and Amblyseius californicus. The benefits of biological control include reduced labor and no PHI/REI concerns. Biocontrol is suitable for both conventional and organic farmers. The spray options for organic control are limited to oils that encapsulate the mite when applied at high pressure to the underside of foliage. Biocontrol, when deployed early is an excellent option.

Conventional sprays can be effective, but again acting early is best. We seek materials that are effective, labeled for greenhouse use and have PHIs that allow regular harvest.  The following products are approved for greenhouse use in NYS:

  • Danitol 2.4 EC (PHI 3 days, REI 24 hours)
  • Agrimek (PHI 7 days, REI 12 hours)
  • Portal (PHI 1 days, REI 12 hours)

Field growers beware: Dry weather favors mite infestations outside, too.

NOFA-NY field day features high tunnels, July 14,

Long Term High Tunnel Soil Health and Nutrient Management for Tomato Production 

Thursday, July 14, 6:00–8:00pm
Location: Obercreek Farm, 59 Marlorville Rd, Wappingers Falls, NY 12590 (Dutchess County)

Come and learn how to manage your high tunnel for longterm success by maintaining and improving soil health and fertility, controlling pests and disease, and ensuring profi table yields and excellent quality. We’ll dig into these topics with a focus on tomato production. Registration fees are $15/person or $25 for two or more people/farm. This event is sponsored by NOFA-NY through the NVFVI High Tunnel grant.

More information about this and other NOFA-NY field days.


High Tunnel Pest and Disease Management Field Day Aug. 2

How can you manage your tunnel to limit losses due to pests and disease? This free field day will start with identification of common high tunnel pests and diseases and effective organic control strategies, including spraying.

Andy Fellenz, with support from NE-SARE, has developed and will demonstrate a boom-style high tunnel sprayer, as well as discuss the proper use of backpack and other relatively low pressure, low flow single-tip sprayers. Variety selection, rotation, cultural practices and spraying all have a place in the overall farm strategy.

Fellenz Family Farm received its certification for growing organic vegetables and fruits in Phelps, NY in 2005, and has been growing in high tunnels for more than 10 years. The event is sponsored by NE-SARE through a Farmer Grant. The Cornell Vegetable Program is cooperating with Fellenz Family Farm to bring you this event.

Registration and more information.

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