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Ken-Bar Low Tunnels - Hoop Supported Row Covers

  • Clear Slitted Row Cover Low tunnels are ideal for the early production of many vegetable crops. They are constructed by installing 6-foot wide sheets of either slitted or perforated plastic over wire hoops that are spaced about 4 feet apart. To prevent wind damage, the cover is pulled taut over the hoops (but not stretched), and the edges are secured with soil. Generally, the cover is left over the plants for 3-4 weeks. The slits and perforations provide daytime ventilation, eliminating the need for manual venting. Low tunnels are generally used in conjunction with black plastic mulch for weed control and enhanced soil warming.

    Frost protection of 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit is afforded by the covers, but the biggest benefit is growth enhancement provided by the daily increments of solar heating. Daytime temperatures might be excessive under the cover if ambient temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Under those conditions, partial removal of the cover might be necessary, especially for tomatoes and peppers that have open blossoms. In southern regions Insolar is recommended. This cover has a white pigment to reduce solar transmission which reduces the temperature under the cover.

    Crops that are Suited for Slitted/Perforated Row Covers
    Vegetables Warm season crops that are subject to infection with viruses such as tomatoes, pepper, and summer squash.
    Small Fruits Strawberries in annual hill system
    Cut Flowers The results from the use of slitted or perforated row covers on various crops will vary, but in general all crops will benefit. The primary precaution is to provide extra ventilation when there are daytime spikes in temperature or use insolar. Drip irrigation and mulch are recommended as part of the growing system.