7 Spring Cleaning Tips For Commercial Greenhouses

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Hairnets and hand sanitation are required upon entry to the growing area.During every busy shipping season, you invariably run into issues that would have been eliminated had a little spring cleaning taken place. This encompasses more than just a cleaning perspective. It also involves planning ahead and taking care of business concerns so they don’t interfere with the busy season. Here are a few points you may want to consider before spring shipping rolls around:

1. Review Inventory Supply

A good time to take stock of inventory is before the busy shipping period. There’s nothing worse than finding out you are short of shipping trays in the middle of a large order. Don’t confine your inventory to just shipping material — have a look at production material, as well. The less concern around ordering material, the easier time you will have when the product is flying out the door.

2. Rotate Sensitive Product

A system should always be in place to use older product first, from cardboard to growing mixes. Get your departments using a continuous rotation of material, so as not to be surprised when you have the least amount of time to deal with it. Growing mixes, for example, generally have a shelf-life of three months. After that, the wetting agent is less effective, resulting in watering issues. Some operations color code their loads of growing mixes so the staff knows which to use first. It also helps if you have a stringent ordering procedure so you are never over- or under-supplied with material. Putting these measures in place will ensure that you are not dealing with surprise issues when you can least afford it.

3. Eliminate Clutter

It’s surprising how much constant clutter can affect the efficiencies of any greenhouse operation. A well-organized shipping area free of infringements can greatly increase the chances of making those time-sensitive deadlines that are so often imposed. Take time when you are able to review shipping and production areas to make sure that inventory is neat and located in an area to maximize efficiency for the busy times. Sometimes the slightest change can save hours of labor.

4. Schedule End Of Winter Maintenance

There are obvious maintenance issues that need to be scheduled within the greenhouse environment, but there are issues that are particularly important when you are moving into the spring season. If your greenhouse has a cooling system, you should be looking at this system prior to its demand. Be sure all pumps are in proper working order, as are all other aspects of the cooling system.

Winter damage to the greenhouse structure is always an area of concern. As soon as weather allows, you should do an in-depth perimeter check of the entire greenhouse and deal with any found issues right away. Blackout and shading systems should be serviced before the spring season as well. With with long-days approaching, blackout systems are vitally important for plants needing short-day conditions to flower.

5. Take Measures Early To Lessen Pest Infestation In Warmer Months

The arrival of warmer weather in the spring also brings pests. Certain precautions both in and around the greenhouse can reduce the severity. Removal of internal weeds before the change of season, as well as drench and spray preventatives, can accomplish this. Look in your chemical cabinets and check inventory. Make sure that the pesticides are in inventory before they are necessary. This, again, will lend more concentration to the jobs at hand during the busy season.

Herbicides for areas directly in contact with greenhouse exteriors are also a necessary element for keeping pests out of the greenhouse. Pests will live in the grass and weeds around the greenhouse perimeter, and eliminating this environment drastically decimates the numbers of pests entering the greenhouse. Make sure enough herbicide is on hand to handle at least the first spring spray.

6. Review Climate Controls

Instead of waiting until the warmer weather arrives, have plans in place that remind you ahead of time when climate controls need to be tweaked. Chances are when the changes will be required, your workload will be drastically increased. Day lengths and temperatures change. Settings for venting shading and blackout all need to be adjusted to meet the changing climate conditions. Keeping records from previous years will aid in this changeover.

7. Whitewash The Exterior

If you are planning to whitewash your greenhouse, get plans and material orders in place before busy times. Depending on your method of application, this could take a great deal of planning just to arrange adequate labor.

Read more from the staff of GGS Structures on the GGS Structures blog.

Duane Van Alstine (dvanalstine@niagrow.com) is a former grower and is now manager of Niagrow Systems Ltd.
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