A group of 17 researchers, led by Washington State University, recently was recognized for their innovative approach to managing late blight in tomatoes grown under high tunnels.

They also examined three different types of biodegradable mulches and compared yields of tomatoes, lettuce and strawberries to open-field production in three different study regions.

They received the 2013 National Institute of Food and Agriculture Partnership Award for Innovative Programs and Projects, according to a news release.

The work involved six institutions that conducted trials in Texas, Tennessee and Washington.

The researchers found that high tunnels produced higher yields of all three crops than field-grown.

The structures provided higher temperatures, better ventilation, lower humidity and reduced leaf wetness that also helped control the spread of late blight in tomatoes.

The study of the plastic mulches also included textile scientists who tested for changes in the material over time, including weight, thickness, flexibility, pore size and color.