High Tunnel Grape Production Systems: A Novel Sustainable Approach to Growing Grapes

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $266,986.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2021
Grant Recipient: University of Arkansas
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Renee Threlfall
University of Arkansas
Dr. M. Elena Garcia
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

Information Products


  • Fruits: grapes


  • Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses, varieties and cultivars, Trellis systems
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal abstract:

    Grape production is one of the largest fruit production systems in the world. In 2013, the U.S. was one of the top 10 countries to grow grapes in terms of yield, area harvested, and tons produced. California, with an ideal grape growing climate, holds 90 percent of US grape production. However, California grape production is forecast to decrease 6 percent due to the ongoing drought crisis and extreme weather events. Considering this, it is important to explore other regions where sufficient natural resource availability may allow for better and more efficient table grape production. While other regions of the US may exhibit sufficient land and water resources for grape production, there are often challenges posed by less than ideal climate and pest pressures. Utilizing protective high tunnel technology is an effective way to ameliorate those issues in the production of many different types of crops, including grapes, making the idea of efficient, low-input table grape production a reality in the southern US.

    The purpose of this project is to investigate the productivity, efficiency, and economic feasibility of using high tunnel technology as a tool for expanding table grape production to areas where open field vineyard management requires high levels of inputs due to both biotic and abiotic challenges. In addition, high tunnel table grape production can provide limited resource farmers with diversification options for their farming operations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. To evaluate production techniques and pest management tactics to determine feasibility and best practices for three table grape cultivars with three trellis systems under high tunnels.
    2. To determine marketable attributes through the evaluation of physiochemical and post-harvest attributes for these table grapes grown under high tunnels.
    3. To develop economic budgets for high tunnel grape production by determining economic breakeven analysis for table grape production under this system.
    4. To develop, deliver, and disseminate educational materials to stakeholders to provide guidelines on production practices for high tunnel table grape production in the Southern region.
    5. To measure impact of educational trainings delivered.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.