by Gena Moore, CFSA Organic Research Coordinator | Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 —

Picking peppers at Lomax Farm

Above: Picking peppers in the high tunnel at Lomax Farm

We all know variety selection is a key factor in crop success. Here in the Southeast, we face issues like excessive summer heat, high humidity, and insect pest pressure—just to name a few. Choosing the right variety to fit your farm and market is more exciting than ever before with an expansive collection of cultivars to choose from. For example, there are thousands of tomato varieties grown around the world; however, there are certain types that carry resistance to our common diseases in the Southeast U.S. Even further, there are varieties that respond best to various trellising or that yield in flushes as opposed to consistent harvesting to suit different markets.

In this article, we will dive into some results of a recent variety demonstration conducted at CFSA’s research and education Farm in Concord, NC (Lomax Farm), as well as some favorite varieties from Carolina farmers. We hope this information helps you plan for big harvests next year! We want to give a big thank you to Vitalis Organic Seeds for donating seed for our variety demonstration and to our local food pantries for accepting and distributing the produce to our communities in need.

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by Gena Moore, CFSA Organic Research Coordinator | Monday, May 20, 2019 –

Cover photo fore trellis solutions

Trellising is standard on most farms for a variety of reasons. Providing plant support can decrease disease, keep plants and fruit clean, increase efficient use of space and even maximize yields. Organic standards encourage farmers to use preventative measures, like trellising, to mitigate disease and pests. Crops commonly trellised are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, small melons, pole beans, snap peas, and flowers.

It’s important to choose the right trellising system for your crop and farm. Some factors to consider are:

  • Installation costs
  • Maintenance requirements
  • Constraints on plant growth
  • Type of production

Keep reading to find out more about different trellising methods and which ones are right for you.

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Tomatoes are an integral part of many farms in North and South Carolina. Although field production of tomatoes is common, there are many benefits of growing tomatoes in high tunnels including higher marketable yields, lower disease pressure and season extension. To achieve these benefits, proper and efficient production methods must be used. Some production details to consider include variety selection, planting dates, bed preparation, irrigation, and harvest methods.

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by Gena Moore, CFSA Organic Research Coordinator

Tomatoes are one of the leading crops grown in high tunnels throughout the Carolinas. With the capability for season extension, tomato transplant dates for high tunnels are already quickly approaching.

Targeting an early market with tomatoes can mean higher profits for many farmers.

While most production plans are set for our upcoming growing season, there are some critical decisions to be made in regards to the implementation of a production plan.

Early spring grafted and un-grafted heirloom tomatoes in a high tunnel at Lomax Farm.

Early spring grafted and un-grafted heirloom tomatoes in a high tunnel at Lomax Farm.

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Updated by Joe Rowland, CFSA Organic Initiatives Coordinator | Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 –

Constructed high tunnel bows

CFSA’s farm, Elma C. Lomax Education & Research Farm in Concord, NC, was awarded an NRCS-EQIP contract for a high tunnel through the High Tunnel Systems Initiative. Construction began during a field day at Lomax on October 3, 2017.

The Lomax Farm staff documented the process, from applying for the NRCS grant to beginning construction of the high tunnel. If you are thinking about applying for funding for an NRCS-EQIP high tunnel, here is what you need to know.

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Clara Coleman and Adam Lemieux of Johnny’s Seeds demonstrate how to build your own movable high tunnel from materials that you can buy at your local hardware store. These videos were filmed during the 2016 Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Durham, NC. (more…)

by Gena Moore, CFSA’s Organic Research Coordinator

Overhead Irrigation in a High Tunnel

A cover crop stand of sunflowers in a high tunnel irrigated with a wobbler head sprinkler system at Lomax Farm.

Irrigation is a much debated topic among many farmers. Some simply rely on rain and hand watering while others meticulously run drip tape and spend countless hours monitoring and adjusting irrigation schedules. Whether you produce in the field, high tunnel, or greenhouse, water amounts can greatly impact the health and vigor of your crops. For example, bitterness in cucumbers can be caused by the lack of or inconsistent watering. Also, crops like tomatoes require varying amounts of water throughout their life cycle. Adjusting irrigation amounts for tomatoes can impact the marketable quality of fruit. No one likes bitter cucumbers or ugly tomatoes so taking the time to research and plan irrigation can influence marketable harvests and, in-turn, profit. (more…)

A Practical Guide to Understanding and Implementing Micro-irrigation in High Tunnels

high-tunnel-micro-irrigation-guide

High tunnels can be a great resource for farmers. The season extension capabilities provided by high tunnels can open up new opportunities and price premiums in the local marketplace. However, producing in high tunnels is different from field production and can be difficult to master.

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by Gena Moore, CFSA’s Organic Research Coordinatorlomax-slide-3

I’m sure you’ve heard that no two snowflakes are the alike.  The same can be said for high tunnels.  The fact that all high tunnels are different makes determining planting dates difficult for many growers.  Accepting general planting date recommendations can be a risk when working in high tunnels and risk taking in agriculture is, well, risky.  Although determining planting dates for high tunnel production can be challenging, if you get to know your tunnel, you can minimize your risk.

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Production planning, successions, and crop rotations to maximize your high tunnel space in winter

by Joe Rowland, CFSA Organic Initiatives Coordinator | Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023 – 

I’m new to CFSA, if you didn’t know, and have the privilege of working with growers on season extension and high tunnels. When I started growing in high tunnels 12 years ago, I focused on the shoulder seasons. I wanted to grow earlier in the spring and later in the fall. So, I would make sure my tunnels were clean, clear, and raring to go by my March 15 target date for tomatoes. Similarly, I would have that tunnel packed full of beautiful greens and things in November and December as production slowed outside. 

In hindsight, what I didn’t focus on enough was the doldrums of January, February, and March! 

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