Gude Grief: Snow Putting A Damper On Spring

Four hundred thousand plants filled Gude Brothers Greenhouse’s 67,000-square-foot facility just a couple weeks ago in Middletown, Md. Now, owner Larry Gude hopes 100,000 of those plants are salvageable.

Gude Brothers lost an estimated $750,000 in plants earlier this month when large sections of its structures caved due to the weight of snow. Nearly half the Gude Brothers facility is ruined, Gude says, and Hortica is assessing the damages.

“We do petunia baskets,” Gude told The Frederick News-Post. “We filled 5,000 baskets with soil. They were all sitting on the tables. Now they’re covered with snow and glass.

“I went into shock.”

In addition to the estimated $750,000 in plant loss, the structural damage may add up to $1 million. You can watch video of the collapsed Gude Brothers greenhouses.

Gude Brothers isn’t the only operation battling snow–although its snow damage is just about as extreme as it gets. Growers and retailers on FreshAirForum.com are faced with snow challenges, too. One grower–in Dallas, Texas, no less–spent 12 hours last week shoveling, scraping and blowing 12 inches of snow off unheated greenhouses.

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4 comments on “Gude Grief: Snow Putting A Damper On Spring

  1. You have to heat your greenhouses to melt the snow off. Make sure the rows in between the houses are cleared so that the snow can fall off. Also you need to put up winter bracing. Living in NY this is just the way it’s done (at least that’s way we do it). If you hear of substantial snow comming you heat the houses the plastic/glass is then warm and the snow slides/melts off. Better to use a little heat instead of losing your greenhouse. If things get real bad slice the plastic if there’s no plants in it. Plastic is cheap compared to the framing. Before we started to do these things we lost houses during Nor’easters. Learned the hard way that heat & plastic is cheaper than the framing, less time consuming to fix also.
    Sue, Otisville, NY

  2. Not sure whether Larry will see this or not – His operation was in full snow protection mode. He had his temps turned up to the maximum, well before the first flakes fell. The rate of snowfall at 4″ an hour during some parts of the 24 hour storm overwhelmed the structure. Unfortunately, following the initial failure the entire structure was stressed to the point of collapse.
    He has rigid plastic so cutting wasn’t an option though there was alot of cutting that happened in the area on poly houses. Larry’s a motivated guy with a great attitude – he will come back stronger.

  3. You have to heat your greenhouses to melt the snow off. Make sure the rows in between the houses are cleared so that the snow can fall off. Also you need to put up winter bracing. Living in NY this is just the way it’s done (at least that’s way we do it). If you hear of substantial snow comming you heat the houses the plastic/glass is then warm and the snow slides/melts off. Better to use a little heat instead of losing your greenhouse. If things get real bad slice the plastic if there’s no plants in it. Plastic is cheap compared to the framing. Before we started to do these things we lost houses during Nor’easters. Learned the hard way that heat & plastic is cheaper than the framing, less time consuming to fix also.
    Sue, Otisville, NY

  4. Not sure whether Larry will see this or not – His operation was in full snow protection mode. He had his temps turned up to the maximum, well before the first flakes fell. The rate of snowfall at 4″ an hour during some parts of the 24 hour storm overwhelmed the structure. Unfortunately, following the initial failure the entire structure was stressed to the point of collapse.
    He has rigid plastic so cutting wasn’t an option though there was alot of cutting that happened in the area on poly houses. Larry’s a motivated guy with a great attitude – he will come back stronger.

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