Conley’s Helps Permanent Crops Nursery With Acclimation House

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Custom rolling benches allowed Duarte Nursery Trees and Vines to house 25 percent more product.

Conley’s Manufacturing and Sales has provided the agriculture industry with greenhouse design and technology since 1946. One of Conley’s current projects includes a vast expansion for an operation that has become a perpetual customer, Duarte Nursery Trees and Vines.

Duarte Nursery Trees and Vines is a 23-year-old family-owned and operated permanent crops nursery located in Hughson, Calif., just south of Modesto. Crops include grafted grape vines for the wine industry, citrus varieties, almonds, walnuts, olives, pistachios, cherries, blackberries and poinsettias. As the largest permanent crops nursery in the United States with sales growing more than fourfold in less than a decade, it was time to significantly expand the size of the nursery with the addition of several new custom-designed greenhouses.

Interior And Exterior Shading

In 2007 Conley’s was hired to custom design and build a 30,000 square foot acclimation house for Duarte to service the plantlets coming out of their tissue culture lab. To adequately acclimatize these delicate plantlets, a house with many customizations and very unique features was desired.

“They had to have specific shade levels so we put shade both inside and outside the house,” says Tom Conley, President of Conley’s Manufacturing & Sales. “They had to have a lot of humidity and the benches had to be heated from the bottom. It had to be segmented, so there are several growing compartments within the building.”

Conley’s suggested its Free Air 4000 Series for the project for its sawtooth frame, which works well with the unique exterior shade system built on top of the greenhouse. Conley’s promotes innovation and prototyping as its strengths, so that made for a good collaboration between the manufacturer and grower. Because of how well the original acclimation house had performed, space quickly ran out and more acclimation room was needed. Just a few years later, Duarte requested a duplication of the exact same house from Conley’s to double their acclimation space.

“We’ll be able to bring in about 5 million plants a year from our tissue culture lab, acclimatize them in our Conley’s acclimation house and then move them out to the final growing stage,” says Jeff Duarte, operations manager at Duarte Nursery.

Large Volume Capacity And Light Diffusion

Duarte’s rising market demands for their clean plant products also required the addition of substantial indoor as well as outdoor growing space. Duarte once again approached the manufacturer in 2011 to design and build 18 acres of new greenhouses and 37 acres of indoor and outdoor benching. The nursery put together a wish list of greenhouse characteristics desired in the new build.

“They were pretty specific about what they needed and that makes it easy for us. We love to do prototype work,” Conley says.

The Conley’s Gable 7500 Series was selected for the two-30 bay greenhouse range expansion for its roll-formed structural strength, flush-mounted purlin design, built in anti-condensate control features and its engineering ability to meet Duarte Nursery’s needs. Not only did this house accomplish Duarte’s need for large-volume capacity and sufficient light diffusion, it also easily and quickly attains necessary temperature levels.

“This house [Gable 7500] has been extremely efficient in the cold winter. If it’s below 30˚F outside, we can set the temperature to keep our root zone in the 70s and it stays pegged right there all night,” says Jeff Duarte.

A total of 720 rolling benches were custom designed and built inside the new greenhouse ranges. Each of the 60 bays contains 12 Conley’s rolling benches and measures approximately 5.75 feet by 141 feet per, allowing Duarte to house 25 percent more product. The benches were designed using the same roll-formed components as the greenhouses, with a weight capacity that allows each bench top to hold 18,000 pounds.

Duarte Nursery was pleased with the engineering abilities and suggestions that Conley’s offered. Not only did Conley’s accomplish the ultimate goals of the greenhouse and benching, but the company also saved the nursery a significant amount of money in building and future operation costs.

“The reason we chose Conley’s is because they were really involved in listening to our needs and coming back with prototype benches, drawings and eMailing back and forth,” Duarte says. “They were good at giving us what we wanted and making sure we still wanted it by the end of the process. Sometimes your mind does change as you start thinking it through. We knew when we started construction, we had exactly what we wanted.”

Lisa McKernan (lisa@conleys.com) is communications director for Conley’s Manufacturing & Sales, Conleys.com.

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