Purdue Extension and Indiana University are collaborating to offer field days featuring high tunnels, geared towards Indiana farmers who own or manage specialty crop operations and are interested in using high tunnels. The events will be hosted Aug. 10 at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center in Vincennes; Aug. 15 at the Pinney Purdue Agricultural Center in Wanatah; and Sept. 27 at the Hamilton County Extension Office and Full Hand Farm in Noblesville.

A collaborative research team from Indiana University and Purdue University evaluated the farm-level impacts of high tunnel use throughout Indiana. The team will present their research findings during the field day events. Also, representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will explain the opportunities available to Indiana farmers through the High Tunnel System Initiative, a cost-share incentive for Indiana farmers to obtain a high tunnel for their farm.

Each event will offer educational programming and opportunities for networking and discussion of issues related to growing vegetables and other specialty crops in high tunnels.  The programs, which include general guidelines for new high tunnel users, focus on site and structure selection; considerations for irrigation and drainage; tomato, cucurbit and winter greens production; and common management challenges.

Details for the three remaining field days are as follows:

  • Southwest Purdue Ag Center High Tunnel Tour
  • Date: Thursday, Aug.10, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. (EDT)
  • Location: Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center, 4669 North Purdue Road, Vincennes, Ind., 47591
  • Registration: Call 812-886-0198
  • For more information: email Wenjing Guan at guan40@purdue.edu or Dan Egel at egel@purdue.edu

During the evening event at Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center, attendees will tour ongoing tomato and cucurbit trials conducted in high tunnel systems. The tour also will feature disease and insect management in high tunnel systems and a presentation on the potential of using grafting technology to enhance yield. In addition to viewing high tunnels, attendees will see a demo of a season-long low tunnel system used for growing tomatoes and peppers, and gain insights on the NRCS high tunnel cost-share program and how to choose, locate and make other pre-construction decisions for a high tunnel.

  • Pinney Purdue Vegetable and High Tunnel Field Day
  • Date: Tuesday, Aug. 15, 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (CDT)
  • Location: Pinney Purdue Agricultural Center, 11402 South County Line Road, Wanatah, Ind. 46390
  • Registration: visit http://tinyurl.com/yc5lqvez or call 219-386-5232
  • For more information: email Kym Schwinkendorf at kschwink@purdue.edu or call 219-386-5232.

The field day at Pinney Purdue Agricultural Center will feature tours of tomato production in moveable high tunnels, using both conventional and organic management systems. The event also will include walking tours of sweet corn and pumpkin variety trials, an overview of research findings about the opportunities available through high tunnels, and information about the NRCS program. Attendees will learn about managing pollinators; low-cost high tunnel structures for the home gardener; irrigation solutions; site and structure considerations for new high tunnel users; and finding, preserving and preparing fresh produce. Private applicator recertification credits (PARP) are anticipated. This event includes a dinner and sweet corn variety tasting.

  • Purdue Beginning Farmer Program/Full Hand Farm Tour
  • Date: Wednesday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (EDT)
  • Locations: Hamilton County Extension Office (9 a.m. – 1 p.m), 2003 Pleasant St, Noblesville, Ind., 46060 and Full Hand Farm (1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.), 3844 State Road 13 North, Noblesville, Ind., 46060
  • Registration: visit  http://bit.ly/2puUV4I
  • For more information: call James Wolff at 260-481-6434 or email jmwolff@purdue.edu; or call Analena Bruce at 412-716-5040 or email anabruce@indiana.edu  

This fall event, which is part of the Purdue Beginning Farmer Program, includes educational workshops on top considerations for site and high tunnel structure selection, and advice on managing pests that are common in high tunnels. During an afternoon tour at Full Hand Farm, attendees will observe a successful high tunnel operation that utilizes moveable high tunnel systems. Full Hand Farm is a diverse vegetable farm that produces winter salad greens and a variety of other specialty crops. Lunch will be provided to pre-registrants. Registration is limited.