Qlipr Crop Clamping System for Tomatoes and Cucumbers
There's no labor of love on the farm quite as time consuming and stressful as attempting to raise a healthy tomato crop. After years of honing in on a system, we find what methods work best for our spaces and what varieties outperform others. This cumulative experience of growing tomatoes, season after season, serves as the wisdom that ultimately leads to our success. Trellising, pruning, mulching, grafting, and growing in high tunnels are all maintenance innovations that have helped producers achieve that desirable crop and new and exciting developments in these areas are sprouting up every year.
One new and fascinating system that has recently reached the States is the Qiplr Crop Clamping System designed and developed by entrepreneur horticulturalist, Cor Pellikaan, in the Westland Region of the Netherlands. His 35 years in the horticultural sector, and specifically his work cultivating tomatoes and cucumbers in high tunnels, has contributed to this genius system that makes the growing culture of these profitable crops in poly-tunnels more efficient, easier to manage and potentially even more sustainable.
The systems consisted of a crop hook (3.28 ft) and two stainless steel clamps. The stainless steel clamps have a foam rubber insert that protects the stems of the plants from being damaged by the clamps. It doesn't look like much, but once the system is learned and utilized properly, it provides for efficiency and the hooks and clamps are easily sterilized and stored for multi-season use.
A sturdy high wire is strung from one end of the high tunnel to the other and the hooks are hung from the top line. Each hook is designed so that they can effortlessly be moved back and forth on the line to allow the plants to be manipulated quickly while trimming. The hooks themselves have a small ball at the bottom of them where a piece of trellising twine can be attached that goes from the hook to the soil. The clamps are then used to trellis the plants onto the line and eventually onto the wire hooks at maturity. One to two clamps are sufficient to hold up the plants as they are very strong and clamps can be leap-frogged from one plant to the next as the farmer works their way through the high tunnel, reducing time and resources.
Each time the plant grows 20 inches, the bottom clip on the plant can be moved to trellis the new growth at the top of the plant on the line and eventually onto the stainless steel hooks. When the crops reach the stainless steel hooks at peak maturity, they can be slid down on the wire hook and shifted sideways. This allows the grower to control the height of the plants while still allowing fruiting and flowering to take up the space needed for heavy production. The clips are projected to last longer than any other plastic tomato and cucumber clip boasting an average life expectancy of 10 years.
You can watch this pretty soothing, silent how-to video offered by the Pellikaan group to get an idea of how it works. Additionally, Farmer Jesse of the No-Till Growers Media outlet visited David Williams of Sunset Market Gardens in Reidsville, NC to talk about his use of the Qlipr system in his high tunnels in this informative video:
At High Mowing, we are especially excited by the innovations that increase yields while simultaneously reducing waste. Have you tried this system or developed your own similarly ingenious method for high tunnel production of tomatoes and cukes? Let us know in the comments!