High Tunnel Tomato Variety Trial

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2004: $4,391.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Judson Reid
Cornell Vegetable Program

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: tomatoes
  • Animals: poultry


  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management
  • Pest Management: cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulching - plastic
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, analysis of personal/family life, social capital, social networks, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Hothouse tomato production has grown by over 1000% in the Finger Lakes region of New York over the last 3 years. This growth has come from the immigration of Amish and Mennonite families to the region. Hothouse tomatoes are divided into fully heated and vented greenhouse and unheated hoop houses or high tunnels. High tunnel production is well suited to these growers for several reasons: High tunnels use no electricity. Soil management can be simplified. Generally there are less insects and diseases in unheated hoops. Hoops eliminate the most expensive input for local growers-heat With less inputs, the return to investment is greater, sooner. If we look at sustainability hoops use less non-renewable resources than heated greenhouses. Tomatoes are the most common tunnel crop, but beans, cucumbers, lettuce, and squash are also grown. Heated greenhouses generally out-yield hoop houses, in part due to the use of prolific, indeterminate varieties bred for the greenhouse. These varieties are disease resistant and have yields often twice that of the determinant varieties commonly used in unheated hoops. Could their high yields be achieved in the high tunnel, a less optimal environment?

    Project objectives from proposal:

    In 28x144’ tunnel we will plant 3 rows of indeterminate greenhouse tomatoes and one row determinate tomatoes. Varieties will be blocked and replicated 4 times. Varieties will be randomized within blocks. Harvests from these plants will be recorded by date, weight and grade. An economic analysis will compare the economic difference between determinant and indeterminate varieties for high tunnel production.

    Outreach to extend what is learned through the project will take place with a tunnel walk through in late summer at the cooperating farm and farm visits. A publication on the project will be directly mailed to all hothouse tomato growers in the region. A copy will be added to the grower’s resource library at the Finger Lakes Produce Auction. The Auction’s annual winter grower’s meeting will feature a power point presentation on the project. This research would be a piece of a future hot-house tomato production guide, developed for family-farms.

    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.