From the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program:
The Northern New
York Agricultural Development Program has released the results of a
project evaluating the economic potential of the non-traditional tunnel
Tomatoes are the more popular crop grown in the high tunnel structures
that allow farmers to plant earlier in the year and harvest later into
To help growers diversify their crop rotation to improve
production, income and soil health, the farmer-driven Northern New York
Agricultural Development Program funded trials of crops less commonly
grown in high tunnels. The trials were planted at the Cornell Willsboro
Research Farm in Willsboro, NY.
If growers can successfully use high tunnels to grow crops more commonly
planted in fields they have the potential to produce food crops that
appeal to a broader market audience. Diversifying the types of crops
grown also helps increase disease and pest protection in the tunnel
environment, explains project leader Amy Ivy, a Regional Vegetable and
Berry Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The project also included a survey of fresh market prices for the
non-traditional crops. The gross value per square foot planted of the
crops was estimated at:
.. Cucumbers, using two types of trellising practices: $5.63-$7.08.
.. Ginger, with a unit price of $16.00 per pound: $5.79
.. Basil, with two plantings: $4.52
.. Green beans, with two plantings: $4.32
.. Zucchini, with two plantings: $2.24.
For comparison, the average gross value of tomatoes is $7.50.
While it is clear that tomatoes are still the best gross value choice
for a summer crop for growers with high tunnels in the Northern NY
climate, growers can add the data from this project into the factors
they consider for evaluating options for diversifying their crops
and rotation, says Cornell Willsboro Research Farm Manager Michael
For example, ginger may not return as much per square foot as tomatoes,
but it has a much lower labor requirement, and it does not share the
same diseases as tomatoes.
beans may not be feasible as a primary tunnel crop, but because they
have such a short season they can be useful for filling a gap between
other crops, and basil is an excellent economic option for high tunnels,
points out Cornell University NYS Vegetable Extension Specialist Judson
Final harvest date for the cucumbers, basil, green beans and zucchini was Oct. 16; for the ginger Nov. 21.
Ivy notes the trial results have encouraged growers to consider
training cucumbers to grow on a single vertical line in the high tunnel
which used less labor and produced a 20 percent higher yield compared
with the traditional raised mesh trellising.
Trials underway in 2015 include evaluating opportunities to increase
ginger and basil crop yields and exploring summer lettuce production in
The complete Advancing Season Extension with Non-Traditional High Tunnel
Crops report is in the Local Foods section of the Northern New York
Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a
farmer-driven research and technical assistance program serving Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Clinton,
Essex and Franklin counties.
for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported
by the New York State Senate and is administered through the New York
State Department of Agriculture and Markets.