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By Abbi RossU of A System Division of Agriculture
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — High tunnels may help reduce pests and improve yields for grape
growers in Arkansas, said Elena Garcia, horticulture professor and researcher for
the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“High tunnels are plastic-covered structures, similar to greenhouses, but are passively
heated and cooled,” Garcia said. “They provide intermediate environmental protection
between greenhouse and field conditions.”
Growing grapes under field conditions in Arkansas can lead to a variety of challenges,
Garcia said. Arkansas’ humid climate supports a host of fungal diseases, and insect
pests are abundant.
“Growers have a high pesticide input in the field production of table grapes in order
to have an economically viable crop,” Garcia said.
Garcia has been researching the use of high tunnels for grape growing since 2014.
Her research focuses on their use as an alternative production system to reduce some
of those challenges and provide a more sustainable environment for table grape production
in Arkansas and the surrounding region, she said.
Garcia set up two trials to test the high tunnels. One was set up on the Milo J. Shult
Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fayetteville with three cultivars (releases
from the UA System Division of Agriculture Fruit Breeding Program) and three training
systems under tunnels. Another trial was conducted on Barnhill Orchards, a cooperating
farm in Cabot, Arkansas.
“Results indicate that table grapes growing under tunnels have better yield and fruit
quality,” Garcia said. “Pest pressures were also greatly decreased.”
The project is multidisciplinary, Garcia said, and includes Division of Agriculture
scientists from the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension
Service, as well as ATTRA, a non-profit organization supporting sustainable agriculture,
and the Arkansas Association of Grape Growers.
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
Media Contact: Fred MillerU of A Division of AgricultureArkansas Agricultural Experiment Station(479) email@example.com