US (ND): Williston tests season extension with high tunnels

Flowers, tomatoes and peppers are still going strong in the high tunnels at Nesson Valley, and hopes are high that this happy situation will continue through October and maybe even into November.

Nesson Valley is one of three test sites across the state exploring just how much season extension is possible in a high tunnel or hoop house. The other two locations are in Bottineau at the Dakota College and in Absaraka at the Dale E. Herman Research Arboretum, where a new tunnel was just built this spring. The $173,000 grant for the three test sites came from the North Dakota specialty crop block grant program.

The Williston tunnel has already successfully extended the season for vegetables considerably longer than the neighboring, open-air side plot, according to Kyla Splichal, horticulture research specialist overseeing the project for the Williston Research Extension Center.

“The frost we had two weeks ago really stopped all outside vegetable production,” she said. “Although the cut flowers outside still seem to be producing.”

While the peppers, flowers and tomatoes are still growing strong, the cucumbers in the hoop house have unfortunately slowed down — not due to weather, however.

“We’ve had some disease issues,” Splichal said. “That has affected production, although I think cucumbers kind of tire out after a while anyway.”

The high tunnel looks not only at how well season extension does in North Dakota but which varieties will work best. Production economics will also be evaluated, to see if cut flowers or other specialty crops can be grown profitably in them.

Read more at the Williston Herald

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