US: High tunnels could benefit Florida blueberry growers

Protecting Florida’s $80 million blueberry crop from freeze damage is always a wintertime challenge, but a University of Florida study shows that structures called high tunnels could shield plants from cold and promote earlier fruit ripening. Though the initial investment can run from $18,000 to $25,000 per acre plus labor, high tunnels deliver better quality fruit, bigger early yields and higher prices if growers beat competitors to market, said Bielinski Santos, an associate professor with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The study, published in the current issue of HortTechnology, tracked two growing seasons on a commercial blueberry farm in Alachua County. The results showed that temperatures outside the tunnels plunged to freezing or near-freezing 61 times during the study. Temperatures fell that low just three times inside the unheated tunnels.

High tunnels may increase air and soil temperatures and protect the plants from wind and rain damage, leading to better flowering and more fruit, said Santos, based at UF’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm. Plants grown in the tunnels produced about 4.5 tons of ripe fruit per acre by the end of March; no ripe fruit came from similar plants grown outdoors during that time.

Click here to read the full article

source: Southeast Farm press

Publication date:



Receive the daily newsletter in your email for free | Click here


Other news in this sector:


Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber