An extra two weeks tacked onto the growing season or added to the front-end could extend the cash flow coming into the pockets of vegetable producers.

Vegetable growers could do just that by using hoophouses in the field, says Carl Cantaluppi, Granville and Person county horticulture agent.

Growers who attend the Northern Piedmont Specialty Crops School Feb. 15, 2002, can hear a researcher from Oklahoma talk about the benefits of growing specialty crops in hoophouses, and extend their season. Steve Upson, a horticulturist with the Nobel Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., will share his research with the group.

Upson's presentation will be part of the annual Specialty Crops School at the Southern Livestock Arena near Oxford, N.C. The arena is located 1.5 miles south of the 1-85/U.S. 15 interchange (Exit 202).

“Hoophouses are portable greenhouses that the grower can put in the field without electricity,” Cantaluppi says. “They are open on the ends where you can close them up if it gets too cold. An extended harvest at the end of the season can help growers receive higher prices for their crops once there is a scarcity.”

Cantaluppi points out that Oklahoma's growing season is similar to the one in the upper Southeast. “Upson's research on hoophouses will benefit growers in our area.”

In addition to the session on hoophouses, the annual specialty crops school will feature direct marketing strategies to insure success, keys to profitable plasticulture strawberry production and an update on the Piedmont Produce Auction.

Eli Herman, the horticulturist at Biltmore Gardens in Asheville, will discuss growing specialty crops.

To insure a seat, pre-registration is required. The deadline is Feb. 8, 2002. The cost is $25 for the first person in a family or business and $15 for each additional person. A copy of the proceedings cost $10.

Make checks to Northern Piedmont Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association: Granville County Extension Center, P.O. Box 926, Oxford, N.C. For more information, contact Cantaluppi at 919-603-1350; or email at carl_cantaluppi@ncsu.edu.