The Texas High Plains has a semi-arid, hot, windy climate that features high evapotranspiration (ET) demands for crop production. Irrigation is essential for vegetable production in the region, but it is constrained by depleting groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer. High-tunnel (HT) production systems may reduce irrigation water demand and protect crops from severe weather events (e.g., hail, high wind, freezing) common to the region. The objective of this study was to compare yields, fruit quality, crop water use, and crop water use efficiency (WUE) of jalapeno pepper (
Capsicum annuumL.) and tomatoes ( Solanum lycopersicumL.) in HT and open field (OF) production systems. We hypothesized that the protection from dry and high winds by HT would improve yields and quality of fruits and reduce water use of peppers and tomatoes. During the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons, peppers and tomatoes were transplanted on two HT plots and two identical OF plots. Plastic mulch was used in combination with a surface drip irrigation system. Micrometeorological variables (incoming solar irradiance, air temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed) and soil physical variables (soil temperature and volumetric soil water) were measured. Air temperatures were significantly higher during the daytime, and wind speed and light intensity were significantly lower in HT compared with OF. Despite the lower light intensity, yields were greater in HT compared with OF. The fruits grown in HT did not show significant differences in chemical quality attributes, such as ascorbic acid and lycopene contents, compared with those grown in OF. Because of protection from dry, high winds, plants in HT required less total water over the growing seasons compared with OF, resulting in increased WUE. The 2018 and 2019 data showed that HT production is advantageous as compared to conventional OF production in terms of increased WUE and severe weather risk mitigation for high-value vegetable production in the Texas High Plains.