Research & Economics of Season Extension

Hoop House Project

Image of a hoop house

Winter Production of Leafy Greens in the Southwestern USA Using High Tunnels:

In much of the Southwest, most winter days are sunny, but nights can fall below freezing. Therefore, passive-solar high tunnels (synonym: hoop houses) should be ideally suited to this region. Researchers conducted this project to evaluate high tunnels across different climatic zones for their potential to profitably produce winter greens.

Lettuce and spinach were planted on October 28 and November 15 at two experiment stations in NM, one station reflecting a northern location and the other a southern location. Lettuce and spinach were also planted at on-farm study sites in Arizona (AZ), Colorado (CO), and New Mexico (NM).

Participants from on-farm study sites have provided experiential information about the use of high tunnels for winter production. Yields and tunnel temperatures were collected in all operational tunnels during year one (2009/2010), two (2010/2011), and three (2011-2012).

Project Goals

Image of inside of hoop house
  1. To quantify the differences between three passive-solar high tunnel designs of different expense and heat-retention capacities to assess their potential to provide a suitable environment for winter production of leafy greens.

  2. To evaluate growth and yield of one spinach and one lettuce cultivar at two planting dates within each tunnel.

  3. To conduct economic analyses to determine relative profitability of each tunnel design. To distribute results and recommendations to farmers, researchers, extension educators, and other agriculture personnel in NM, CO and AZ.

Investigators and Participants

Dr. Steven Guldan is the Principal Investigator, Superintendent / Professor, Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center, New Mexico State University.

His contact information is as follows:

Office: Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center
New Mexico State University, Alcalde, NM 87511

Office phone: (505) 852-4241

Co-Investigators and Participants of the Project are:

  • Jeff Anderson: Agricultural Agent, Dona Ana County Extension Office;

  • Connie Falk: Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business;

  • Del Jimenez: Agricultural Specialist, Cooperative Extension Service, RAIPAP, Alcalde ;

  • Gerald Moore: Coordinating Agent, Tri-State Navajo Nation Extension Office, AZ;

  • Darrin Parmenter: Extension Agent, Colorado State Univ.-La Plata County, CO;

  • Manoj Shukla: Associate Professor, Department of Plant & Environmental Sciences;

  • Mark Uchanski: Assistant Professor, Department of Plant & Environmental Sciences;

  • Tony Valdez: Agricultural Agent and Director, Rio Arriba County Extension Office;

  • Joran Viers: Horticultural Agent and Director, Bernalillo County Extension Office;

  • Juliette Enfield: Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Plant & Environmental Sciences;

  • Emmanuel Hecher: Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business;

Economics of Hoop Houses

  • The Economics of Low-cost High Tunnels
    for Winter Vegetable Production in the Southwestern United States.
    Authors: Emmanuel Alves Dos Santos Hecher, Constance L. Falk, Juliette Enfield, Steven J. Guldan and Mark E. Uchanski