AgriNews - Flynn's solar high tunnel extends season further


by Carol Stender
Thursday, May 3, 2012

Excerpt: FRAZEE, Minn. — Dallas Flynn wraps his jacket tighter against the cold spring breeze as he walks from his house to his solar heated high tunnel. Once inside, he quickly takes off the coat, grabs a brush and wipes at flowers as he pollinates a fruit tree. He’s working with other fruit trees as well. He envisions them bearing plums, pears, peaches and nectarines. However, this is Minnesota.

That doesn’t stop Flynn. He’s already shown how seasons can be extended in a traditional high tunnel. The 20-foot by 24-foot structure relies on passive solar heat. It heats up quickly at sunrise and cools at night to a few degrees warmer than the outside air.

Flynn and his wife, Mary, installed an electric heater to keep plants alive during long cold snaps. The electric heater is better than the propane model they tried. The propane heater released ethylene gas into the tunnel, which caused tomato blossoms to fall. The electric heater and sunlight warmed the high tunnel’s air, but did a poor job of heating the soil. The traditional high tunnel, while extending the growing season a month in spring and fall, was a challenge when growing cool-weather crops past mid-November.

That’s when Flynn envisioned a solar-heated high tunnel. With a $17,692 Minnesota Department of Agriculture Sustainable Ag and Energy Grant, Flynn built the solar heated structurel in 2008…

He hopes to have his first tomatoes by early June. Cucumber plants are up and flowering. The spinach is nearing the end of its cycle. The fruit trees are flowering and growing.

Flynn’s efforts are among the case studies highlighted in the Clean Energy Resource Team’s greenhouse projects and studies.

Read the full article from AgriNews >>


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