Cornell Ag relationship – a force that grows in a high cave

Higher caves, sometimes called hop houses, provide an easy way for farmers in the New York market to extend our limited growing season by two or three months. Sometimes more. Even when there is snow on the ground, farmers can grow vegetables early and / or late in the weather and lettuce grow. And in tropical climates, such as tomatoes, crops can ripen several weeks in advance and the same crops can be harvested and sold several weeks after frost.

In addition, elevated caves provide protection from wind, rain, disease, insects, and deer. And research conducted by Cornell University for more than a decade shows that the yield and quality produced in high caves may be far superior to those grown in the field.

This is great news for consumers, both early and late in the year, who are growing in variety and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

High cave-grown vegetables

It can be planted in high caves in North New Year, November and even September until harvest. And those plants will continue to grow at the end of February / early March during late winter and early spring harvest.

Well-trained and well-cut tomatoes grow under the protection of high caves. Manufacturers make it easier for better ventilation and excellent light penetration. Thus, because more leaves can be removed to focus on the power of the plant during the fruiting process, the plants are easier to produce and produce higher yields than tomatoes grown in the same field.

Pumpkins are another popular choice in northern New York. In spring, summer and autumn, especially when they grow vertically, they can grow very fast and be fruitful; Make full use of the space provided and the light provided.

Use large caves for small fruit production

By using large caves for raspberry production, it can extend the season from May, for some floric-fruit (summer) varieties, until November, for some primrocanic (late-season) varieties. And primrose can yield more than three times as much fruit in the field as a result of prolonged harvest and, among other things, large berry sizes, close rows, and gray mold infection. The end result is high quality fruit and high crop value.

Tree fruit growing in a high cave in the North

For many years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), through its Environmental Quality Promotion Program (EIPP), has provided financial and technical support to North New York market farmers who want to extend the growing season. Environmentally safe. The program is in progress.

One of the programs used in that program was a local farm. It is located southwest of Malon at the foot of the Adirondoks. And as they continue to use their higher caves to prolong their growth and increase productivity, they have taken a step forward. They have traditionally distributed crops that are not suitable for the region.

You don’t see a lot of peach trees growing in the north. That is because we are outside the realm of accepted geographical development. Although the trees survive zero temperatures, high winds, snow and ice (and they do in some areas), the fruit buds are damaged by temperatures of around 28 degrees Fahrenheit, which often occurs during spring frosts. In other words, they do not bear fruit.

But what if you plant and grow peach trees in an area that is protected from spring frosts when the flowers are in danger and in danger? That’s exactly what a couple wanted to do in one of their largest caves in Summit Farm to cultivate stone fruits, including fast-growing trees. Their trees are now 6 years old, 10-12 feet tall, healthy and sweet and high quality fruit.

Take it to the limit

Inland Alaska has long, cold winters and short, often unpredictable summers. Most states are planting in zones 1 (-50 ° F or below) or 2 (-40 ° F to -50 ° F). Food costs are high. And fresh fruits and vegetables are not usually found in rural Alaska villages, often by air.

For more than a decade now, researchers at the University of Alaska’s Farbank Experimental Farm and UA Cooperative Extension have been studying the potential of growing fruit trees (not apples, peas) and other agricultural commodities in suburban caves. -Polar Alaska climate. Most of the species have grown outdoors in experiments with apple trees both in and out of caves. But they occasionally bloom and do not bear fruit.

However, trees growing in caves show a more general size and bloom from the second week of May to the beginning of June. When the fruit is ripe enough, they produce a good, high-quality fruit that will last. Inadequate handling often results in the most productive trees in a year.

Online course offered

Cornell offers small online tutorials on seasonal extension in small caves. Amy Ivy, a retired East New Extension Vegetarian Specialist, has worked with CCE in our region for 31 years. For more information visit

Richard El Gast, Extension Program Instructor II – Vegetation, Natural Resources, Energy; Assistant to Agricultural Programs (retired); Franklin County Cornell Cooperative Expansion. 355 West Main St.


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