February 5, 2013

Grants Make Greenhouse Projects Possible

With energy costs ranking as one of the top concerns for greenhouse growers, it makes sense to take advantage of energy-efficient equipment and technology. But the cost of retrofitting or adding new equipment can be cost-prohibitive, and it’s often difficult to come up with the capital, even though the savings will be greater in the long-term. REAP Program Changes To Help Small Businesses There have been several changes in the past five years in the Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) that increase the chances for a smaller grower to receive a grant. “There’s been a general change to this program,” says Dan Kuipers, solar sales manager and grant specialist with TrueLeaf Technologies. “In the first couple of years I wrote applications, it was much easier to get very large grants. We received numerous half-million dollar grants for people. It was a situation where the big growers had the resources […]

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February 4, 2013

Is New Greenhouse Production Space A Sign Of A Good 2013?

Are you working on improving your structures this year? If so, what are you doing? If not, what would your next project be? And what do these plans mean about the 2013 season? That’s what we asked you in our 2013 State of the Industry survey. There are growers who will be adding production area next year. In our survey, 36.7 percent of respondents say they will add space in 2013. Here’s the full breakdown: Do you plan to add or retrofit a greenhouse structure in 2013? Yes, we plan to add or retrofit a greenhouse in 2013 36.7 percent No, we see no need to add or retrofit in 2013 39.3 percent No, we can’t afford to add or retrofit, even though the need exists 24 percent We also asked growers even if they don’t plan to actually add or retrofit, what are their highest priorities? The answers varied on […]

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November 13, 2012

Is The Greenhouse Of The Future A Skyscraper In The City?

Is the future of the greenhouse industry in the city? Will you be looking to add extra floors rather than more land to your greenhouse? Swedish-American company Plantagon is offering a solution that builds a high-rise model for urban agriculture, rather than the traditional sprawling greenhouse range. Plantagon’s helix-shaped greenhouse offers clean and sustainable food production in urban areas. In addition to standalone greenhouses, Plantagon creates commercial buildings, such as offices and hotels, with functional greenhouse area built into the facade. Growing area can also be retrofitted onto existing high-rise buildings. The structures provide the buildings with shade, but let through enough sunlight for office activity. The idea behind the production area for the urban agriculture greenhouses is that vegetables are grown in pots and trays, which are watered using an ebb-and-flood technique. Capillary mats are used at the bottoms of trays to keep plants irrigated. Planting happens in the […]

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September 4, 2012

Nexus Announces Head Of New Product Group

CEO of Nexus Greenhouse Systems Cheryl Longtin announced August 28, 2012, that Scott Thompson will head their new product group. Thompson brings over 32 years of experience in designing, selling and developing greenhouse products to the director of sales position for the new sales organization.  “It is important to our customers to know that when they call us, they are dealing with the most knowledgeable people in the industry and that they have the experience to solve their problems. Currently our sales organization has over 175 years of combined greenhouse experience,” Longtin says. “People who have worked with Scott know that he will be a good fit for our experienced team. The loyalty that his current customers exhibit prove that he has the qualities we were looking for to lead Nexus into a new area of the commercial greenhouse market. When someone of Scott’s integrity combined with his sales experience […]

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July 18, 2012

Do High Tunnels Make The Cut?

Increased consumer interest in farmers’ markets, buying local and sustainability make this an opportune time for domestic specialty cut flower growers. Local market advantages of specialty cut flowers exist, including product freshness, quality and availability of stems that do not ship well or are difficult to find. Currently, an estimated 73 percent of cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported. However, the number of domestically grown specialty cut flower stems sold has increased from 81 percent of total U.S. cut flowers produced in 2005 to 92 percent in 2010. To compare high tunnel and field production of specialty cuts, one must consider flower quality and yield. Plant size and architecture are quality parameters of these crops, and they can be controlled culturally (i.e. fertility and growth regulators) and environmentally (i.e. temperature and light). Flower size, number of flower buds, time to flower and stem length and strength can influence […]

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July 18, 2012

High Tunnels: Grow Better Bedding Plants In Cold Weather

Bedding production begins in mid- to late-winter and early spring in the northern half of the U.S., when outdoor air temperatures and light are at seasonally low levels. During this time, greenhouses must be heated to maintain desirable production temperatures. The costs involved can be huge. Energy for heating in northern climates accounts for 10 to 30 percent of the total operating costs of commercial greenhouses. So it makes sense to find alternative strategies. Our research shows that high tunnels are a viable alternative for plant producers. High tunnels are an unheated polyhouse or hoop house covered with a single layer of plastic, although a double layer of plastic or additional covering inside may be used. In floriculture, high tunnels are most commonly used in cut-flower production for season extension and protection against frost, rain and wind. They are also used to produce and overwinter containerized herbaceous and woody perennials. […]

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June 18, 2012

XS Smith Ending 66 Years in Business This Summer

Citing a difficult economy and the federal government’s more restrictive lending policies, XS Smith, a fourth generation family-owned and operated greenhouse manufacturer, is closing its doors this summer. “It’s not an easy situation or an easy decision,” says Skip Smith, president of XS. “But we’ve had the slowest spring in the last 40 years. We’re forecasting out, and the industry’s not looking good.” Smith says they’ve seen many of their customers go bankrupt, including Carolina Nurseries, one of their largest, which closed two years ago. “Most, if not all, my other large customers I talk to say I’m doing the smart thing,” he says. A huge surplus of used greenhouses has also affected his business. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act has made borrowing money much more difficult as well, Smith says, saying the law now requires a complete reevaluation of the property when applying for a […]

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May 25, 2012

Stuppy’s CS3 A-Frame And Mor-Space Benches

Stuppy’s CS3, the next generation A-frame house, is ideal for growers, retail lawn and garden centers and schools. The improved design expedites construction for new houses and attaching to existing structures. This is especially beneficial for first time builders, but it is helpful for the seasoned builder as well. “The trusses themselves are engineered with the builder in mind. Because of the factory hole-punching, there’s no guess work in the field,” says Bob Miller of Miller Construction. The engineered steel frame is designed for maximum equipment load while maintaining a 12-foot column and truss spacing. The CS3 meets current IBC structural building codes. Stuppy’s redesigned Mor-Space benches eliminate criss-cross bracing for ease of assembly. Now equipped with lateral 1.315 bracing, assembly in the field is easier than ever. While many aspects of the benches have been standardized, customization is available to best fit grower needs. Rails are standard 2.5-inches high […]

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May 23, 2012

Westbrook Greenhouse Systems Offers Next Generation Greenhouses

In 2009, Mohamed Hage and Kurt Lynn had a vision to supply a large, local population with fresh food. That vision meant a different kind of farm. After founding Montreal-based Lufa Farms, their vision led them to an office building’s rooftop in the heart of Montreal. Urban rooftop gardening is a fast-growing enterprise, but Hage’s and Lynn’s vision was asking more of a rooftop garden than one had before. The two approached Westbrook Greenhouse Systems for help in taking the local food practice to a new level. The challenge? Construct a commercial greenhouse range that could yield year-round fresh produce for hundreds of households, as well as one that could function in Quebec’s harsh climate. Of course, there was also the challenge of constructing on a building’s rooftop. Lufa Farms worked with Westbrook to construct a pioneering 31,000-square-foot curved glass greenhouse for the site. Early planning revealed the structure would […]

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May 23, 2012

Grow Ornamentals, Vegetables Under One Roof With Atlas Manufacturing

While some growers are scaling back plant production and labor due to the decline in the economy, many fortunate growers are doing the opposite. And like many businesses today, keeping up with the competition is crucial to success. At County Farm Plant Company in Baxley, Ga., owner James Cook knows the importance of keeping his greenhouse structures in pristine working order with all the latest and most efficient greenhouse technologies. This ensures his operation is extremely productive, and his plants are beautiful. County Farm Plant Company offers vegetable plants, hanging baskets, flowers, wholesale garden center and nursery stock, ornamentals, seeds, shrubs, herbs, trees and more. To account for the varying production needs of each plant, the growing operation requires a number of diverse structures. Cook has turned to Atlas Manufacturing in Alapaha, Ga., for his structures and components since 1992. He says “the quality of [Atlas] products, services and value” […]

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May 23, 2012

Agra Tech Helps Keep Insects Out

The Lindcove Research and Extension Center (LREC) at the University of California is the home of a program that’s responsible for the introduction, therapy, pathogen testing and distribution of germplasm to the citrus industry and researchers of California and other states. Since the 1960s, when the first Citrus Clonal Protection Program (CCPP) trees were planted at LREC, the CCPP has found it necessary to move its operations from open field plantings to protective screen structures and, finally, to positive-pressure greenhouses. The goal is to keep harmful insects away from valuable germplasm. “The budwood tree sources we are protecting are of high value because they require years of investment in comprehensive therapy and testing, as well as multiple years of fruit and growth evaluations for their establishment,” says Georgios Vidalkis, director of the CCPP that sponsors the greenhouses at LREC. “In addition, these trees distribute about 35,000 buds per year, which […]

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