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Nitrogen Fertility Options for Organic High Tunnels

Cordelia Machanoff, Program Aide
Cornell Vegetable Program

Last Modified: May 25, 2017

Nitrogen Fertility Options for Organic High Tunnels
It is transplant season for high tunnel tomatoes, particularly on farms that have just completed an early spring greens crop. Now is the time to plan for fertility for the longer season tomato crop. Conventional high tunnel growers can rely on soluble fertilizers which are injected through drip irrigation at a precise rate. However, organic tunnel fertility is more challenging, particularly in regards to long season nitrogen delivery. Most organic nitrogen sources are not injectable and must be applied prior to planting. These often come with unbalanced ratios of other nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. Several years of foliar sampling in high tunnel tomatoes throughout NYS has shown that organic high tunnel tomatoes generally start out with sufficient or even excess nitrogen, but go into a mid-season dive in foliar nitrogen levels.

Given the longer season and higher yields of tunnel tomatoes, a nitrogen fertilizer to inject or side-dress will help prevent mid-season deficiencies.

Our recommendations and pre-plant and in-season organic nitrogen sources are provided in the PDF below.

This work is part of a 2-year project between CCE Cornell Vegetable Program and NOFA-NY with support from the New York Farm Viability Institute.

Nitrogen Fertility Options for Organic High Tunnels, May 2017 (pdf; 1094KB)

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Upcoming Events

2018 Processing Snap Bean Advisory Meeting

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December 4, 2018
10:00 AM - 1:30 PM
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Discuss the 2018 snap bean growing season and management concerns. Reports and discussion of the 2018 Snap Bean Research Projects funded by the Association. Review priorities and the role of the advisory group in applications for state and federal grants. Give your input on the format of future advisory meetings and future educational programs.
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Sweet corn, pea, beet, and carrot processing growers and industry members are invited to attend. Discuss the 2018 growing season and management concerns. Reports and discussion of the 2018 Projects funded by the New York Vegetable Research Council/Association. Review priorities and the role of the advisory group in applications for state and federal grants. Give your input on the format of future advisory meetings and future educational programs. 
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To assist farmers looking to sell into wholesale markets, vegetable sizing templates are now available for bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash. The crop templates are scaled to size (8.5 x 11 paper). They can be printed and used to create sizing templates to be used by workers on the wash and pack lines. Additional grading resources are available too.

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