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High tunnels extend the spring, fall and winter growing season in southern climates.

Insect pests are one of the major problems in organic production systems. Crop damage from insect pests can occur via direct feeding or egg-laying, contamination with feces, or disease transmission; loss in yield or marketability of vegetables in the absence of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can be nearly 100 percent. Organic IPM practice consists of a three-tiered approach consisting of systems-based practices, mechanical tactics, and biorational insecticides. Mechanical tactics encourage the use of physical barriers for pest exclusion. Some popular pest exclusion tactics include the use of floating row covers for protection against flying insects, bagging fruits, and installing metallic collars around transplants to protect them from cutworms and armyworms. In all these cases, a barrier is created between the insect pest and the host plant for short-term protection.

These resources show research data and field observations about the success of shade cloths as a more permanent barrier system around the high tunnels; this is a high tunnel pest exclusion (HTPE) system that has been developed by Alabama Cooperative Extension at Auburn University, and is an immediately useful technology for small producers in the Southeast. Such modified high tunnels may resemble ‘net houses’ which are sealed structures designed to exclude insect pests. Also, they are designed for keeping beneficials in.

High Tunnel Crop Production/IPM Videos

High Tunnel and Organic IPM Publications