Study Identifies Challenges and Opportunities of Specialty Crops in High Tunnels

A study by Indiana and Purdue Universities, published in Hort Technology, reveals farmers’ perspectives on the challenges and advantageous opportunities associated with using high tunnels for specialty crops in Indiana. Initial observations revealed that the additional labor and time requirements of high tunnel production, the increased complexity of transforming farming habits to high tunnel usage, soil fertility and management considerations, disease management, and limited winter markets all comprise the greatest challenges facing farmers adopting this technique. In-depth interviews and qualitative research provided a good understanding of specific challenges. In particular, farmers reported difficulty keeping up with the time and labor required to manage their high tunnels. The researchers note that different planting and harvesting schedules from other crops can contribute to this challenge with high tunnels.