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Advice from growers on what kind of hoophouse to buy

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Growing for Market readers write about their experiences with hoophouse structures — what kind they bought, whether they like it, and what they wish they had done differently. If you would like to add your opinion and advice, please email us and let us know it's okay to publish your comments.

"We currently have 7 unheated hoophouses or high tunnels in use on our mixed vegetable and fruit farm and are adding an 8th structure this season.  We also have one heated structure that we use for spring transplant production and early season potted tomato production.
 
We live on the south shore of Lake Superior where we get up to 120 inches of snow in the winter and can receive as much as 2 feet at a time during lake effect storms.  We started out like many growers by building our own but after several flattened by snow and another picked up in a wind storm and deposited in a cherry orchard, we decided to look towards professionally manufactured structures.  When we began researching hoop houses, we felt that strength was paramount.  We looked at tube diameter, hoop spacing, truss systems, number of purlins, and end-wall design as important factors.
 
In the end, we chose the company Poly-Tex located in south-central Minnesota.  They are among the beefiest structures that we've seen, are very easy to work with, are cost comparative to other companies, and are for us, relatively local.  We have 4 16x96' and 2 16X60 foot Kool Houses which are a Quonset style structure.  These shed snow very well.  We went with their end wall kits.  For side ventilation, we put the base that they give up at 3 feet along the entire length of the house and let the poly hang to the ground.  We can then put sand bags or whatever along the edge to hold this flap down or roll the poly up and tie with twine to ventilate.  We recently added a Poly-Tex PT-30, a 30X96' Gothic style structure and treated the sides the same as the other houses.  We are adding a 2nd PT-30 structure this season.  We use 6 mil IR/AC polyfilm to cover our structures and have gone 7 seasons before replacement.  Our heated structure is also made by Poly-Tex.  Although there are a number of very good companies out there making high tunnels, we have been very satisfied with our structures.
 
Several things that growers new to hoophouses will need to consider is crop rotation and irrigation.  One reason why we use multiple houses is to better rotate crops.  We also use both overhead sprinklers and drip irrigation."

Landis Spickerman
Hermit Creek Farm
High Bridge, WI


"I have been growing in the ground in greenhouses for 11 years here in Az. I anticipate receiving a NRCS grant for my 3rd one. I have been very happy dealing with Mark Miller at G & M Agricultural Supply for my first 2 and will most likely again. He is quite knowledgable and ever helpful. We are looking at the Poly-Tex Field Pro which they now carry. My last hoophouse was an Agritech 20 by 96 which I am also quite happy with."

John Rueb
Forever Yong Farm
Amado, AZ



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