BUSHLAND, TX (KFDA) - It's been almost one year since researchers from the Texas A&M AgriLife introduced high tunnels into the Panhandle.
Although the high tunnels are providing researches with new data, they have also encountered some challenges, one being our Panhandle wind.
"We've had some trouble last December with the extremely high winds coming in and blowing the covers off," said Charlie Rush, a professor of Plant Pathology for Texas A&M AgriLife. "We learned that if you are going to have these high tunnels in the Panhandle, you are going to have as much securing as you possible can."
Dr. Rush says in order to secure the high tunnels, his team had to add additional straps and they reinforced the doors.
The purpose of the tunnels is to extend the crop season both early and late, conserve water and provide the crop with a better environment.
"Fortunately, the high tunnels protected these plants," Rush said. "You can see they still look great. They are loaded with blooms, they have some beginning fruits starting to ripening up and they will be ready to go to market pretty quickly. All and all, the high tunnels have saved the day twice this growing season."
Dr. Rush says the tomatoes inside the tunnels survived snow and a recent hail storm.
"With the demand for locally grown high quality vegetables, and the fact you can grow these with so much less water and make as much or more money as you could on 120 acres, we think there is a lot of potential," Rush said.
Dr. Rush says these high tunnels continue to look very promising for area farmers and believes they could help re-introduce fruit and vegetable crops back into the Panhandle.