Room to Grow: Global Greenhouse Acreage Taking Off

global greenhouse acreage

For a number of years, the Kerr Center has been promoting, and providing know-how to support, the wider adoption of season-extension structures like greenhouses, cold frames, and hoop houses.

In a climate as varied as Oklahoma’s, the extra protection against storms and hail, and guarantee of more stable temperatures at the beginning and end of the growing season, just make sense.

At first glance, it looks like that work is paying off. Oklahoma increased its greenhouse acreage for food crops by nearly half between 2017 and 2022, from just under 7 acres to 10. (Interestingly, the greenhouse acreage for non-food crops – bedding and garden plants, cut flowers, and so on – is about six times greater.)

However, even with that growth, Oklahoma only comes in 41st nationwide for the number of acres under glass (or plastic), with less than a third of a percent of the national total. California wins hands-down, with more than four times the acreage of the second-place state.

Zoom out further, though, and even the United States, with its 3,000+ acres of greenhouse food crops, doesn’t even crack the top ten globally. According to a new study, which used satellite imagery to map the global extent of greenhouses, China comes in first, with a whopping 60.4% of the world’s 1.3 million hectares of greenhouses.

Mexico, with just a fifth the U.S.’ land area and 40% as many people as its neighbor to the north, nevertheless ranks 4th worldwide in the area under greenhouse cover, with 3.3% of the global total. (Much of that space is used to grow tomatoes and cucumbers that find their way into U.S. supermarket produce sections.)

For anyone looking to get a toehold in this growing global agricultural sector, and help Oklahoma and the U.S. play catch-up, the Kerr Center website has several free resources on offer, including plans for a low-cost 17′ x 100′ hoop house.

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