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High Tunnel Tomato and Bell Pepper Economics Trials

Investigating the "true" costs of producing tomatoes and bell peppers in high tunnels

High Tunnel production of tomatoes & bell pepper for fresh market is one of the fastest expanding areas in horticultural production today. High tunnels provide growers with earlier crops, thus improving cash flow, and increased quality, thus opening up new marketplaces. For many years, we’ve looked at production systems and varieties of tomatoes and peppers that are most appropriate under high tunnel conditions. One piece of the puzzle that has been missing is an examination of economics of these systems. This year, we will be carefully tracking every input including labor in order to better understand the true costs of producing tomatoes and bell peppers in high tunnels.

This program is a cooperative effort between Cooperative Extension and staff from the Agriculture Economics Department at Penn State. Grower-friendly crop budgets will be created out of this trial that allow farmers to substitute their own numbers in order to use these in their operations.

Funding for this program has been provided by the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) through their Marketing Research Program.

About the Researchers:
Steve Bogash is currently a Horticulture Educator serving Pennsylvania out of the Franklin County office in Chambersburg. He covers vegetables, small fruit, cut flowers, greenhouse vegetables, and specialty marketing as his primary areas of responsibility. Tomatoes, bell peppers, container vegetable, cucumbers, and other specialty crops are regular items in the trial gardens under Steve’s management.   Since 2008, Steve has been doing extensive trials on container-grown vegetables in addition to his high tunnel and field tomato evaluation program started in 2000. Evaluating more than 300 varieties of tomatoes for flavor, appearance, disease resistance and general usability has made Steve very opinionated when it comes to tomato varieties. Steve lives with his wife, Roberta and son, Joe in Newville, PA and is looking to create a vineyard and greenhouse business as a post-retirement form of entertainment.

Tim Elkner is a horticulture educator based in Lancaster County.  His main program area is integrated crop management for vegetables and small fruit.  He conducts applied research at the Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center focused on vegetable and small fruit varieties, pest management, and improving cultural techniques.

Contact Information:
Steve Bogash
Phone:  717-263-9226
Email:  smb13@psu.edu

Tim Elkner
Phone:  717-394-8651
Email:  tee2@psu.edu