Grower Solution: Diesel-Heated Trucks

Blooming potted plant grower Jim Dickerson of Dickerson’s Greenhouse in Gobles, Mich., has found a cost effective way to add reliable heat to one of his trucks.

While reefer units with both refrigeration and heat can cost between $15,000 and $20,000, the Proheat X45 auxiliary heater manufactured by Teleflex Power Systems is a more affordable option and fits nicely with winter deliveries.

Dickerson’s delivers live plants to about 700 stores and warehouses over a wide area, from Michigan west into the Dakotas and Nebraska, using a 24-foot insulated dry van truck. The company’s delivery fleet also includes a truck with the reefer unit that can be set to keep plants at a constant temperature when outside temperatures plummet below freezing.

Dickerson just finished shipping its signature crop, poinsettias, and is getting ready to ship winter and spring bulb crops—Easter lilies, tulips and hyacinths. Since he began using the Proheat X45 in 2003, his company has had fewer losses and fewer returned plants for credit.

Since the system runs on diesel fuel and not propane, he doesn’t have to worry about the heater running out of fuel. “It’s the same diesel fuel the engine runs off of and what’s nice is the engine doesn’t have to be running for it to work,” he says. “There’s not a lot of training for the driver required for the X45.”

The X45 monitors the temperature inside the cargo space and turns off and on automatically to keep the temperature much more consistent, he adds. Propane heaters usually keep running, which can wilt the plants. And if the pilot light goes out on a propane heater or the propane heater runs out of fuel, the driver has to know how to relight it, he explains.

Have a solution you’d like to share with other growers? Email Greenhouse Grower’s Editor Delilah Onofrey at donofrey@meistermedia.com

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