July-August - 16

ORGANIC GROWER: RESEARCH
Improve production of organic
bell peppers, other vegetables
High tunnels are popular
season extension tools for
vegetables, including bell
peppers. Photos courtesy of
Virginia State University.
BY DOUG OHLEMEIER
ASSISTANT EDITOR
H
igh tunnels are popular season extension tools
for vegetable crops across the U.S. While most
northern high tunnels use inflated doublelayer
plastic cover, application in the Southeast is
questionable due to the mild spring climate.
Sanjun Gu, Extension specialist and associate
professor of horticulture at Virginia State University
(VSU), Petersburg, Virginia, studied how layers of plastic
cover and plastic mulch affect organic bell pepper
productivity in high tunnels.
The studies were conducted March to August in
2021 and 2022 with organic tomato, bell pepper and
eggplant trials at the North Carolina Agricultural and
Technical State University (N.C. A&T) University Farm in
Greensboro and Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro.
The research objective was to learn if high tunnels
should be single-layer or double layer plastic cover for
warm season vegetables in plant hardiness zone 7 and 8
of North Carolina, Gu said.
16 | SUMMER 2023 ORGANIC GROWER
The study confirmed high tunnel production of warmseason
vegetable crops should use plastic mulch to
significantly increase soil temperatures and boost plant
growth early in the season.
" Our research clearly demonstrated that singlelayer
plastic cover should be used for early harvest of
tomato, bell pepper and eggplant in an organic setting
or organic-managed setting, " Gu said.
Additional research with cool/cold season vegetable
species including bok choy, kale, collard greens and
Swiss chard did not show significant differences in
winter yield, although the double-layer tunnels provide
more comfortable working conditions for growers in the
cold but didn't affect cold-tolerant vegetables.
Air needs to be blown constantly between the layers
to inflate the cover, so a high tunnel with a double-layer
cover brings added material costs from the second
plastic cover, a blower motor/jumper hoses and electric
power. Not every high tunnel has electric power, however.
Additional labor is also required to install the second
cover and motor/hoses. Because of the savings, growers
prefer single-layer plastic cover high tunnels, Gu said.

July-August

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July-August

Editor's Letter
Grower Profile: Central Florida leafy greens
GLVPN Veg Connection: Vegetable crop yields
Organic Grower
Ag Tech: Fields of drones
Plant & Soil Health: Fusarium wilt
Great Lakes EXPO News: Connecting growers through the digital market space
Farm Market & Agritourism: Agreements between growers provide additional opportunities
Ag Labor Review
Classifieds
Advertiser Index
July-August - 1
July-August - 2
July-August - 3
July-August - Editor's Letter
July-August - 5
July-August - Grower Profile: Central Florida leafy greens
July-August - 7
July-August - 8
July-August - 9
July-August - GLVPN Veg Connection: Vegetable crop yields
July-August - 11
July-August - 12
July-August - 13
July-August - 14
July-August - Organic Grower
July-August - 16
July-August - 17
July-August - 18
July-August - 19
July-August - 20
July-August - 21
July-August - 22
July-August - 23
July-August - 24
July-August - 25
July-August - 26
July-August - 27
July-August - 28
July-August - Ag Tech: Fields of drones
July-August - 30
July-August - 31
July-August - Plant & Soil Health: Fusarium wilt
July-August - 33
July-August - 34
July-August - 35
July-August - Great Lakes EXPO News: Connecting growers through the digital market space
July-August - 37
July-August - Farm Market & Agritourism: Agreements between growers provide additional opportunities
July-August - 39
July-August - Ag Labor Review
July-August - 41
July-August - Classifieds
July-August - Advertiser Index
July-August - 44
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