An Educational Program to Expand Season Extension of Horticulture Crops in West Virginia

2011 Annual Report for ENE08-109

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2008: $52,517.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Dr. Lewis Jett
West Virginia University

An Educational Program to Expand Season Extension of Horticulture Crops in West Virginia


The West Virginia Season Extension Professional Development Team Project has been successful in accomplishing many of the milestones originally established in the SARE grant. Participants in this professional development program include 7 West Virginia University Extension Personnel, West Virginia State University and 5-6 progressive, specialty crop growers.
In 2009, 5 season extension workshops were conducted. In 2010, 6 season extension workshops were conducted. In 2011,19 season extension workshops were conducted. Topics featured in the workshops included: design, construction, soil management, fertility management, irrigation, pest management, temperature management, harvesting, marketing and postharvest handling of crops grown using both high and low tunnels.
Grower- and extension educators have facilitated 14 workshops directly and have advised new growers on many aspects of high and low tunnel crop production in 2011. All grower-educators have constructed at least one high tunnel on their farm by the end of 2011. Over 500 new growers have been exposed to season extension technology. By the end of 2011 over 100 new high tunnels have been constructed in West Virginia. Thus, the professional development project has had wide impact in West Virginia and will be important for increasing production capacity.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Objectives/Performance Targets
When this project ends in 2012, a survey of both extension and grower educators will verify the following performance targets:
1. Extension- and grower-educators will have a significant increase in both knowledge and skills specific to high tunnels, low tunnels and other season extension technologies presented over the course of this professional development project.
2. All extension- and grower-educators will have used information, skills and other resource materials from this professional development training program to teach a minimum of 6 regional workshops and/or field tours related to season extension techniques.
3. Approximately 200 West Virginia producers will be exposed to high tunnel technology and at least 30 growers will adopt this technology on their respective farms by 2012.


The Season Extension Professional Development Team includes members of the WVU Horticulture Team, a West Virginia State University (1890 Land grant) horticulturist and a few specialty crop producers. Members of the Team are actively engaged in production, advisory and education programs specific to horticulture production.
In 2011, 19 season extension workshops were conducted across the state of West Virginia focusing on design, construction, economics, record-keeping, soil management, fertilization, pest management, temperature management, irrigation, harvesting, postharvest handling and marketing of high and low tunnel crops. Grower-educators constructed or facilitated construction of 4 new high tunnels in 2011. Two workshops were conducted exclusively by grower-educators. By the completion of 2011, all grower-educators have added one additional high or low tunnel to their farms. Extension educators facilitated 10 workshops related to season extension in 2011.
Exit surveys from workshop or meeting attendees indicated a strong increase in knowledge and skills related to season extension technology. Over 90% of attendees responded that they would change current production practices.
The commercial high tunnel which was constructed by the Team in 2009 continued to serve as a model for high tunnel production and design for many growers in 2011. USDA-NRCS personnel have used this tunnel as a resource for the USDA-NRCS program which has funded the construction of approximately 100 high tunnels across West Virginia in the past 2 years. This high tunnel has also facilitated research projects involving winter covers crops, Chinese cabbage, cucumbers, and potatoes in 2011. Results from these trials have been extended to growers and educators at meetings and through the website.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
In 2009-2011, members of the Season Extension Professional Development Team constructed a commercial high tunnel and have participated in training programs related to commercial high tunnel production. The high tunnel constructed and maintained by the Team has served as a model for high tunnel construction in West Virginia. In addition, over 10 training workshops have been conducted at the high tunnel with over 200 grower attendees since 2010. The team high tunnel has served as a resource for creating videos, slide sets and fact sheets related to season extension technology.
In 2011, 612 West Virginia growers attended workshops and meetings related to high tunnel, low tunnel and other season extension technology. Grower-educators facilitated construction of 4 new high tunnels while providing advice to dozens of new high tunnel growers. Extension-educators facilitated 10 season extension workshops while providing advice to approximately 25 new high tunnel producers in 2011. Since the initiation of the Professional Development Season Extension Project, all grower-educators have constructed at least one high tunnel on their respective farms.
Additional resource materials were created in 2011. PowerPoint slide presentations focusing on economics, winter cropping and construction of both low and high tunnels have been created and distributed to Team members. The Professional Development Team has used the resource material to supplement their knowledge on season extension technology as well as provide new information to clients in their region. Fact sheets and research reports detailing high and low tunnel construction, cropping systems and economics were created in 2011. Ninety-four percent of workshop attendees in 2011 have acquired information which will change the methods in which they grow produce in West Virginia. Approximately 100 high tunnels have been constructed since 2010 with more in the planning stages. Thus, we believe this project has been very successful and will conclude in 2012 with significant impact on the food production system in West Virginia.