The Concept of a Rain Shelter

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist;

There has been increased interest in high tunnels for season extension. However, one of the important roles that a high tunnel has is to serve as a rain shelter.

Rain shelters are often used in high rainfall areas to produce sensitive crops such as tomatoes and other fruits which are susceptible to cracking. Some fruits crack from absorbing water through the skin of the fruit when they are ripe or near ripe, others crack with excess water in the root zone, and there can be a combination of the two processes.  Rain shelters control both of these causes for fruit cracking.

Rain shelters also reduce foliar wetting and rain splash and therefore can reduce fungal and bacterial diseases considerably.

While a high tunnel will serve as a rain shelter, less expensive structures can also be used that have a plastic cover and open sides and ends.

Rain shelters have been shown to improve the quality of tomatoes throughout the growing season and can be a valuable tool to increased marketable fruits of high quality. They are also useful for fruit crops such as cherries and blueberries.