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TechGuy September 26, 2018 11:05 AM

High Tunnel Vendor Experience
I have a NRCS high tunnel grant. I want to buy my first high tunnel to build in a month or so. I am wondering what vendor you may have used and what your experience was like on quality, documentation, and technical assistance.

I am in north carolina and suspect shipping cost precludes me from west coast vendors. I have had one quote from growspan/farmtek for a 30x72 gothic high tunnel with accessories coming in at $13K+ with truss kit and gutters and $1,525 for shipping. The tunnel itself was $7,500 with drop down sides.

I want to keep the price under the $10K grant amount so I will probably need to forgo accessories.

Also curious about how long it takes to put up a 30x72 gothic high tunnel with no accessories for two guys with a medium size tractor. Not much if any leveling to do.

PureHarvest September 26, 2018 09:06 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Farmtek is expensive and so so engineering. The truss kit cost is absurdly high.
Check out rimol.
You can get trusses on every bow, windbrace kit, double layer plastic with fan, roll-up side kit with manual gearbox, and double channel aluminum (for the side curtains so you don't have to buy lumber for a hip board that you still have to attach a single channel to), delivered for under well under 10k.
Instruction binder is nice and everything is marked and pre-drilled. Top notch quality from top to bottom.
I built my 30x72 noreaster completely by myself. I worked on it over last fall and winter when I had time and weather allowed. Covered it in early February with my wife’s help.
I also installed gable vents and the automated side roll up kit.
If I had help and no accessories, I could have one up in under a week, but I’ve also built a mess of tunnels and greenhouses over the years.
Back to cost, I paid a little over 10k delivered (delaware) and got the 30x72 nor’easter with 2 48” gable vents with the motorized automatic shutters and automated roll up sides.
If I did no auto gable vents or automated sides, it’d been well under 10k delivered. I’ll pull the invoice tomorrow and tell u exact.




We harvested this year: vertically: tomatoes, greenbeans, and cukes. In the ground: day neutral strawberries (first pick in may, still getting some now. at one point from june-july, we were getting 3 pounds every 2 days from 144 Albion plants), zucchini, lettuce, broccoli, onions, seedless watermellons, and carrots.

PureHarvest September 26, 2018 09:19 PM

Pro-tip: when you put the bow assemblies together, install the trusses before lifting the bows and setting them in place. Much easier than working with all the nuts bolts and bars over your head.

Pro-tip #2 (my experience): you WILL need a jumper hose to get air from one side of the roof to the other if you go two layers inflated. Maybe other structures are different, but my gothic roof would not allow air from one side over the peak to the other without a jumper hose.

clkeiper September 27, 2018 07:56 AM

[QUOTE=PureHarvest;715646]Pro-tip: when you put the bow assemblies together, install the trusses before lifting the bows and setting them in place. Much easier than working with all the nuts bolts and bars over your head.[/QUOTE]

When we put our house together we spray painted points on the driveway to make a template for the bows and trusses so they were all the same when they went up. ours was a 30x96.

PureHarvest September 27, 2018 10:30 AM

Rimol paints lines on each hoop, so you know where to align each truss bar connector.

Techguy: If you back out the 48" square gable vents with control motors and single stage thermostat, automated roll-up sides (which include a controller box/thermostat), a 30x72 would have cost me [B]$7,857 delivered!!![/B]

My NRCS payment was around 7,500, so it almost would have covered the structure.
This is why I did the upgrades, being that the payment got me so far ahead.

TechGuy September 28, 2018 09:48 AM

thanks for all of your info PureHarvest! I am definitely taking a look a Rimol. I know I want 30x72 but I am not sure if I need double plastic in north carolina. I understand I can add second layer later if I want. Do you deflate plastic in summer?

I'll post more questions as I get deeper into options.

PureHarvest September 28, 2018 12:07 PM

I run it year-round.
The other feature about double layer other than insulating properties is the strength it adds to the structure to withstand wind.
The air pushing in between the layers makes them tight. When the wind blows against the outside, the plastic barely moves. Without this, sometimes it can vibrate/billow a single cover, causing damage.
Since you are warm, I'd 100% do something to vent the peaks on the ends. You don't have to go fancy with motorized shutters, but manually opening something and keeping it open for the warm/hot months is important. A 30x72 would require 48" shutters on both ends.
Even with both sides all the way up, the air coming in from the sides can only mix so much above the height of the open sides. Having the ends venting at the peak keeps the air mixing and venting out the top as heat rises.

Cole_Robbie September 28, 2018 03:10 PM

I have a Clearspan 14x48 from Farmtek. Expensive, but very high quality. One winter storm brought about a foot of ice pellets. It smashed my top rail high tunnel, but the Clearspan was fine.

Keep in mind, those kits dont come with lumber for base and hip boards. Most do not come with doors or end walls.

I can build structures out of top rail for about 1/4th the price of the kits. I built a tall 20x50 for my stepdad for $2500 and nrcs gave him a $10k grant for it. It says on their web site that they dont allow do it yourself structures, but our county agent signed off on ours. Top rail structures handle the wind ok, but snow load bracing is more challenging.

PureHarvest September 28, 2018 04:22 PM

Cole, your state/county payment rate was $10/sqft?!
That is insanely high. I can’t believe national allowed your state’s program manager to set that.

TechGuy October 3, 2018 10:41 AM

my sq ft allowed by nrcs is $4.57 which gives me a 2178 sq ft gothic high tunnel at $9,954.

PureHarvest: What kind of doors do you have? I could not see from photo if you have a people door or tractor or both.

Cole_Robbie: What is top rail? I don't think my agents would go for a self build- they seem pretty clear you need to buy a kit. maybe tunnel #2.

I would like to try out something like a pit greenhouse where I can get some of that passive geo temp control. maybe some air circulated through soil. I have seen some demos on youtube but no concrete numbers and real temperature performance

Cole_Robbie October 3, 2018 01:14 PM

Top rail is the top bar of chain link fencing. It is 1 3/8" outside diameter. It can be bent by hand and costs about a dollar per foot.

I dont know why the square foot pricing varies so much in regard to nrcs reimbursement. Maybe it has to do with labor rates.

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