Specialty Crops

The Dixon Springs Agricultural Center is the southernmost agricultural research center for the University of Illinois.  Since 1960, fruit and vegetable research and extension outreach has been conducted on-site, providing Midwest growers with a wide range of information on various topics. The local food movement has increased year-round demand for locally grown produce, but in Illinois, local food production is limited by climate. The use of high tunnels for season extension is a valuable tool for specialty crop growers wanting to expand the production capacity of our temperate, Midwestern climate, and Illinois has seen a boom in the utilization of high tunnels to meet this demand.

Beginning in 2010, fruit and vegetable research and demonstration at DSAC transitioned from open field production to protected culture production, utilizing three, commercial size high tunnel structures on site. High tunnel systems allow growers to provide markets with fresh, locally grown products nearly year-round, not only creating increased economic opportunities but also increasing local food availability to help address food insecurity.

High tunnel production and management is of interest to both seasoned growers and beginning farmers as they look for economically viable ways to increase revenue. Research and demonstration trials conducted at DSAC provide timely recommendations and best management practices including variety selection; integrated pest management recommendations for insect, disease and weed problems; high tunnel production methods; and general information for new and beginning farmers.

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High Tunnel Research

green bell pepper on plant

2019 DSAC High Tunnel Pepper Variety Trial

This paper reports on seven bell pepper and two sweet pepper cultivar entries evaluated in a high tunnel production system at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center (DSAC) located in Southern Illinois (Pope County). Read more on the 2019 DSAC High Tunnel Pepper Variety Trial.

red and green tomato on plant

2019 High Tunnel Determinate Tomato Cultivar Trial for Southern Illinois

A determinate tomato cultivar trial was conducted at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center (DSAC) located in Southern Illinois (Pope County) during the 2019 growing season. The objective of this trial was to compare performance of eight fresh market determinate tomato cultivars in a high tunnel production system. Read more about the 2019 High Tunnel Determinate Tomato Cultivar Trial for Southern Illinois.

bell pepper plants in high tunnels

2022 DSAC High Tunnel Bell Pepper Variety Trial

This paper reports on seven bell pepper cultivar entries evaluated in a high tunnel production system during the 2022 growing season at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center (DSAC) located in southern Illinois (Pope County). Read more about the 2022 DSAC High Tunnel Bell Pepper Variety Trial

green tomato on plant

2022 High Tunnel Fresh Market Determinate Tomato Cultivar Trial for Southern Illinois

A determinate tomato cultivar trial was conducted at the University of Illinois Dixon Springs Agricultural Center (DSAC) located in southern Illinois (Pope County) during the 2022 growing season. The objective of this trial was to compare the performance of thirteen fresh market determinate tomato cultivars in a high tunnel production system. Read more about the 2022 High Tunnel Fresh Market Determinate Tomato Cultivar Trial for Southern Illinois

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