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New resource details hoop house construction basics

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As an educator and consultant, I have been asked numerous times by work associates and growers to produce a "how to" resource on hoop house construction. I've been hesitant to do so because hoop house design and construction techniques are always evolving. The number of innovations that have occurred in hoop house design and function over the past 20 years is amazing. These innovations also apply to the various techniques growers use to erect structures. Some techniques have been borrowed from the commercial greenhouse industry while others are more the product of "aggie engineering" in an attempt to do more with less.

Currently, there are many excellent extension and grower-authored publications on hoop house crop culture but few detailed publications on construction. The Noble Research Institute High Tunnel Hoop House Construction Guide is the product of 17 years of experience in hoop house design, construction and utilization. In developing this resource, my intent was not to offer a complete set of construction plans for any particular type or size of hoop house but rather to introduce the novice grower/hoop house builder to the various tools and techniques used in constructing a wide range of hoop house models. The various procedures and techniques detailed in the publication are applicable to both prefabricated, commercial structures as well as homemade structures.

Admittedly, my experience with hoop house structures has a Southern flavor. Therefore, the guidelines may or may not have application in other regions of the country. It is my belief that a careful study of this publication prior to purchasing a hoop house kit or materials to custom build a structure will save the builder time and money, as well as reduce the level of frustration encountered during the construction process.

High Tunnel Hoop House Construction GuideHigh Tunnel Hoop House Construction Guide by Steve Upson

To ensure construction proceeds in an orderly fashion, the information is presented in a sequential manner that mirrors the construction process. The publication contains a detailed review of the various models of permanent and movable hoop houses, as well as traditional and novel building materials used in hoop house construction. Also, considerable attention is given to site selection, site preparation and house layout. Many hoop houses fail to function properly due to poor site selection and preparation. Poor fit and finish is a recurring theme among first-time novice builders assembling pre-engineered structures who fail to pay attention to detail when laying out the house perimeter and elevation.

Hoop house builders use a myriad of techniques and hardware to install ground posts, hoops, end walls, bracing and vents. Some of the more popular, as well as novel, construction methods are described in this new publication.

A section listing the tools and supplies needed for hoop house construction appears at the end of the publication. Depending on the type of house to be constructed, some of the tools and supplies may not be required. Having the required tools on hand prior to construction will save you time and frustration.

Steve Upson formerly served as a senior horticulture consultant and worked at Noble Research Institute since 1988. He received a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from the Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree in horticulture from Kansas State University. Before joining Noble, he served as a county and area Extension horticulture specialist with the Oklahoma State University Extension service and managed a commercial market garden operation east of Kansas City, Missouri. His areas of interest include raised bed and container gardening, commercial market gardening, and high tunnel (hoop house) construction and management.