High tunnels, or hoop houses, are unheated greenhouse structures that provide fruit and vegetable growers with an opportunity to extend their growing season. These plastic covered structures offer warmer growing conditions in the late fall, winter and early spring and allow for crops to be started earlier in the spring and harvested later in the year, often through the winter months depending on the crop.

Season extension creates opportunities for growers to increase and lengthen the availability of their fresh, locally grown products and generate income for more months out of the year.

On Monday, Dec. 16, 2019 at 1 p.m. Bronwyn Aly, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems & Small Farms Educator, will discuss a current research project, "Utilizing High Tunnels to Maximize Winter Vegetable Production" at the Local Foods Research and Demonstration area at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in Simpson.

Winter vegetables highlighted in this project include carrots, lettuce, spinach and kale. Aly will also review winter production techniques and winter preparations for high tunnels.

The Dixon Springs Agricultural Center, established in the late 1930's, is the southernmost agricultural research center for the University of Illinois. For almost 60 years, fruit and vegetable research and extension outreach has been conducted on-site, providing midwest growers with a wide range of information on various topics including: variety selection, intensive production and management practices, pick-your-own marketing, strawberry plasticulture production and high tunnel production.

Extension staff are currently focusing on production and management systems within high tunnels on various vegetable and fruit crops. Anyone involved or interested in local food production or learning more about high tunnel production in our region is encouraged and invited to attend.

This program is provided at no cost but pre-registration is appreciated. Register online at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ghhpsw/ or by calling 618-695-6060 no later than Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.

For more information about the high tunnel workshop contact Bronwyn Aly at baly@illinois.edu or 618-695-6060.

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