While a lot of us cannot grow plants in the winter, it is important to not forget about the growing structures we have outdoors. Every winter is different, but some bring plenty of snowfall that accumulates on top of our growing structures. Snowfall can vary by weight, so it is important to know what type of snow you are dealing with. A foot of snowfall that is considered light and fluffy may only contain as much water as one inch of rain. A snow that is wet and heavy only takes 3 to 4 inches of snow to equal to 1 inch of rain. During heavy snowfall, it is important to note if it is a heavy type of snow as this is the more dangerous type when it comes to overloading your hoophouse. For each inch of rainwater that snow is equivalent to it will load a structure with 5.2 pounds per square foot. All hoophouses are going to have different weight bearing loads and it is important to know how much weight yours can safely withstand.
Hoophouses are going to be most stable when the snow is evenly distributed. If only one side has a lot of snow, the structure is more likely to collapse. The pressure points on the loaded side are going to be higher, making them more unstable. If there is a large amount of snowfall on a certain part of your hoophouse, it is important to remove it. An easy way to remove a lighter snowfall is to simply bounce the plastic from the inside. This will move snow if it is a lighter snow and is not frozen to the wall. It is important to start in the middle of the structure as this is where it has less support. Another method is using a broom to knock the snow off the structure. This also works easiest when the snow is a lighter soft snow.
If the snow is a more compacted, wet snow you can try to remove it by using a rope. To do this method, tie knots every foot or so in the rope depending on how long your hoophouse is. You will need another person to help with this method. Toss the rope onto the top of the high tunnel and have you and your partner pull the rope back and forth at the top of the hoophouse. This method helps break frozen snow loose. Sheets of snow should start coming loose and falling from the sides. Help prepare for the winter season by checking the structural support of your hoophouse when you are finishing up the growing season. Make sure that the bolts, screws, clamps, and end walls are in good shape. It is important to note what objects you have around your hoophouse in the event of a large wind, the objects could end up going through your hoophouse.