Through preliminary experiments on our farm, we have begun developing a promising system that successfully grows organic high tunnel peaches in Minnesota (Zone 3). This system uses light-proof silage tarp and thermostatically controlled heat tape to protect trees from dry winter air and extreme temperature fluctuations that have caused high tunnel peaches to fail in other studies. In 2019-2020, the trees in this system produced up to 90 lb/tree, and the tunnel maintained consistent survivable temperatures despite outdoor temperatures down to -35F.
Objectives: Test this system on a larger scale to grow organic high tunnel peaches successfully in Minnesota (Zone 3), learn which varieties perform best, and demonstrate it to other farmers so that they can adopt it. We will also test the systems’ ability to protect against fruit cracking, insects, birds, disease, winter cold, and also optimize temperature in summer.
We predict that using organic methods and minimal energy input, the trees will produce 70 lbs/tree within 27 months. At $3.75/lb, this system could achieve $6300.00/year after Year 2 for a 1768 square foot tunnel containing 24 trees, or $50,400/year per acre.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Test and quantify the effectiveness of a promising system for growing organic high tunnel peaches successfully in Minnesota (Zone 3). Measure growth and winter survival of young peach trees in Years 1 and 2. In fruiting years, measure yield, fruit quality, disease and pest prevention.
- Learn which peach varieties perform best in the high tunnel system
- Demonstrate the system to other farmers via UMN Extension, social media, conferences, a field day, and by appointment.