May 12, 2009

Greenhouse Films: Stretching It

While polyethylene film may last a lifetime in the landfill, the time it spends housing your plants isn’t nearly as impressive. Traditionally, most long-life greenhouse films are guaranteed for four years. “What growers are trying to do is stretch it,” says Nick Calabro, Northeast regional sales manager for Klerks Hyplast, Inc. “Growers are going an additional year, getting five or six years with the film before replacing it.” At What Cost? It’s important to remember a few things if you decide to go this cost-effective route. One, dirt build up can be detrimental. Each year the film is on the structure, it can lose up to 2 percent of its light transmission. For those growers utilizing a top layer and an interior layer to improve heat retention, Calabro says four surfaces are now susceptible to dirt. This build up can be a result of a number of things: pesticides, exhaust, […]

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May 12, 2009

Online Only: The Next Step In Greenhouse Films

Greenhouse film doesn’t last forever. Well, maybe in landfills, but it definitely doesn’t last that long on your greenhouses. Just think about it. If you don’t recycle that film, it’s going to sit in a landfill somewhere, taking up space. The thought of going that route sends chills up Karen Kritz’s spine. Kritz heads up the plastic recycling program for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. She created the program back in the mid-90s when then N.J. Secretary of Agriculture, Arthur Brown, urged Kritz to do something about the large volume of greenhouse film piling up in the Garden State’s landfills. Kritz used Oregon and Florida’s programs as a reference point. She saw that both programs had their own shortcomings, so she made the necessary adjustments for her burgeoning New Jersey operation. In 1997, the first greenhouse film collection took place. Now, “We average over a half-million pounds a year […]

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May 12, 2009

Slideshow: Plant Marketing L.L.C.

Plant Marketing, a Top 100 growing operation based in Eau Claire, Wisc., completed a 226,800 square foot expansion project in two months. Here’s a look at the project from start to finish, from mid-October 2008 to the first week of January.

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May 12, 2009

Build Now?

In a year when everyone is hunkering down, some growers are seizing opportunities and using the economy to their advantage. “In this down economy, there are a lot of opportunities for growers to save money when building,” says Gordon Van Egmond, U.S. sales representative for Westbrook Greenhouses in Canada. “Trades people are easier to come by and the pricing is usually more attractive. Keep in mind growers are expanding for tomorrow, not today.” Low interest rates and incentives make the opportunity hard to pass up, says Jeff Warschauer, vice president of sales for Nexus Corp. “So many of our Nexus customers tell us that if they had to choose between investing in the stock market or the family business, hands down they would invest in the family business!” Warschauer says. “At least they have control of financial decisions. Coupled with new tax incentives, potential grants and interest rates at an […]

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April 28, 2009

Setting The Standard

Throughout most of the last century, most greenhouses were wooden structures with small glass panes that transmitted light poorly. Crop turns were down compared to today’s standards because sunlight didn’t reflect as well, and structure rot and wear was a legitimate concern because most greenhouses had wood frames. Such is not the case today. Greenhouses got a makeover in the early 1980s, partly because home improvement and mass merchandiser chains saw the potential in selling plants. Plant selection wasn’t superb then, but availability was good. And consumers now had more garden centers to choose their plants from. Because of the explosion in live plant production, growers needed bigger, more efficient facilities to accommodate the needs of a market gone wild. Growers went from glass to acrylic or plastic for their coverings, and they chose steel as their infrastructures material rather than wood. Among the first companies to realize the potential […]

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April 28, 2009

Plant Marketing LLC Has Expedited Expansion

Larry Reit’s advice for other growers looking to expand their operations is simple. “Get started as early as you can,” he says. If you can’t, follow Reit’s lead for expedited expansion. Reit, the owner of Plant Marketing L.L.C., embarked on a 226,800-square foot expansion project in Eau Clair, Wisc., with Nexus Corporation late last year. Reit bought land in September, broke ground on the project in mid-October and completed it the first week of January despite poor weather and a holiday schedule that pulled half the building crew away for two weeks. Teamwork kept the project on track, as did Reit’s will to complete the project on time. Reit even participated in the construction project himself. “He was so hands on, in fact, that one Sunday, he was 14 feet in the air on a forklift helping lift trusses into place,” says Al Sray, the Midwest sales manager for Nexus […]

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January 13, 2009

Pleasant View Cuts Heating Costs, Earns Grant

New Hampshire grower Pleasant View Gardens is installing a brand new biomass burner and boiler to heat a portion of its Pembroke location. In the process, it earned a $500,000 grant to do it. The grant came from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants program. The biomass burner, which will burn wood chips, will cut the grower’s oil use to zero and potentially cut heating costs by 85 percent. The burner cost $2 million to install and will drop the total amount of oil used at Pleasant View’s two facilities by half–from 600,000 gallons for both locations to 350,000 gallons burned at the Loudon location. “Given drastic increases in heating costs, we knew it was time to make a move–alternate power was a natural choice for us,” says Henry Huntington, president of Pleasant View Gardens. “With oil prices on the rise, the proof is in the numbers. […]

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November 19, 2008

Fire Engulfs Aldershot Of New Mexico Facility

A packing and shipping building at Aldershot of New Mexico caught fire last Thursday in Mesilla Park, N.M. A welder’s torch caused the fire, authorities say, sparking insulation and eventually gutting the building in a massive fire that reignited for a few minutes Friday afternoon. Greenhouses filled with poinsettias, tulips, mums, roses and other potted plants were untouched, The Las Cruces Sun-News reported. As of the weekend, a damage estimate had yet to be determined. Owner Peter Vanderlugt, however, anticipates being able to fill most holiday contracts. He also expects to maintain his entire staff of 100 employees despite the potential cost damages. Multiple firefighting agencies responded Thursday, including county volunteers, the city of Las Cruces and White Sands fire departments.

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November 11, 2008

Learning To Conserve by A.J. Both

Rising energy costs this century have had a particularly severe impact on the greenhouse industry because structures are generally designed for maximum light transmissions and not maximum heat retention. While fluctuations in future energy prices are likely, the general consensus is that prices will remain high. Energy use and management will continue to have a significant impact on our industry. While it is likely conventional and alternative energy sources will continue to be used by the greenhouse industry, new improved energy collection and storage technologies offer the potential for future commercial greenhouses to be net energy producers rather than energy consumers. Conservation The past three decades have shown that before considering the installation of new energy equipment, it literally paid to operate existing energy systems as efficiently as possible. Over the next decades, it is likely the cost of implementing energy conservation measures will continue to be less than the […]

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November 11, 2008

Building Taller & Stronger by Scott Thompson

In order to envision where our structure design and technology will go in the future, one really needs to evaluate the history and current state of production facilities in the industry. Location and climate will continue to dictate the overall design of facilities. Also important is the “labor quotient.” Will a crop demand considerable labor to grow, harvest, pack and ship, or will it be completely automated with equipment that will control uniformity, efficiency and quality control of the product? Over the past 25 years, we have seen greater automation take place within specifically designed buildings to grow specific crops. This specialization allows the designers to narrow their focus and concentrate on the environment required for that particular crop, unit size produced and the rotation of each crop cycle. These design issues, when combined with light, water, heat and cooling implications on the crop, have and will continue to determine […]

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October 15, 2008

New Svensson Screens Let More Light In

Climate screens with light-diffusing properties have tended to use a transparent material to achieve diffusion, but Svensson has developed a new range of screens that provide a higher grade of diffusion using both transparent and white strips. The screens are solar reflecting, and they’re suitable for cut flowers and pot plants. The XLS Harmony Revolux is being introduced at Horti Fair. Not unlike other forms of light diffusion, the key benefit of a Harmony screen is its ability to allow more light onto the crop while maintaining a lower temperature. And because the light reaches the plant from more angles, the upper canopies are less inclined to overheat. To understand how high-grade light diffusion can benefit the crop in real life, Harmony screens were installed at the Guzman/Europlantas greenhouse in Spain under the control of Danish production manager Benny Hansen. Guzman/Europlantas produces ornamental pot plants and offers more than 200 […]

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