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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May 23, 2012

Harnois Industries: Adding Structure Creates Niche Opportunities

Martin Griswold from Judges Farm in Old Lyme, Conn., is not, by his own admission, a greenhouse grower. “I am an outdoor perennial grower,” he says. “We do have a few simple hoop houses for overwintering, but they’re really just posts that you pound into the ground and put plastic on,” Griswold says. In 2011, Griswold and his brother Matt were looking for ways to increase their market share and expand their operation. “We wanted to piggyback as much as possible on our already well-established perennial business, while developing a new line that would differentiate ourselves from the competition” Griswold says. Seeing that vegetables and food crops were gaining a lot of interest from consumers, he noticed a niche they could fill without too much difficulty: fresh herbs. For Judges Farm’s fresh herbs to be ready for delivery at the same time as his perennial crops, the operation needed to […]

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May 21, 2012

Structures That Withstand Elements From Nexus Greenhouse Systems

Founded as Tri-B Nursery Inc. in 1992 by Burl Berry and his father Bob Berry, Berry Family of Nurseries (BFN) quickly became a top U.S. grower with operations in Michigan, North Carolina and Oregon, as well as two locations in Tennessee and Oklahoma, respectively. Starting with 68 acres at an Oklahoma-based location, they grew to more than 8,000 acres across seven operations, serving the needs of many large national retailers. In 2011, Oklahoma experienced one of the strangest and most challenging years in terms of weather conditions. February’s 50 to 60 mile per hour winds brought one of the worst blizzards in the state’s history. One day dropped 26 inches of snow. The summer challenged growers with record-breaking heat. “There were five days with heat over 110°F climbing to 116°F. Our crop did not burn up,” says BFN President Chief Operating Officer Burl Berry. “In fact, the new greenhouses with […]

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May 21, 2012

Building Strong Structures With X.S. Smith

In in the greenhouse design and manufacturing business, you have to keep an eye on the weather. All of X.S. Smith’s customers do too. Success in the green industry is so weather related it can be frightening, and X.S. Smith’s Scott Thompson does what he can to alert and communicate with all of his customers to inform them of potential weather-related issues all year round. For example, the weather forecasts for the Jersey Shore were not good on Christmas 2011. Predictions called for blizzard conditions and the area was set to receive more than two feet of snow – an unbelievable amount for the region. When the forecasts began three days earlier, Thompson emailed and called as many of his customers in the Northeast as he could. Thompson and his son, Tyler, asked clients if there was anything they could do to help growers prior to the storm. Most are […]

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May 21, 2012

Winter Greenhouse Rebuilds Are A Possibility: Harnois Industries

The winter two years ago was one of the snowiest in Minnesota history. The state received almost twice as much snow as the annual average, coming up just a few inches shy of eight feet. On December 11, 2010, with 17.1 inches, a single storm registered as the fifth largest snowstorm on record for the Twin Cities. Add this total to the seasonal snowfall of 34 inches in Minneapolis, which ranked as the third-highest snowfall on record through December 13, and the table was set for greenhouse disasters. Linder’s Greenhouses was one Minnesota grower who experienced the snowfall in full force that year. Started in 1911 by Albert Linder, Linder’s had been around to experience the four snowiest winters prior to 2010. But that December, with a total accumulation of close to four feet in 36 hours, the inevitable happened. “Four of our free-standing structures collapsed,” says Peter Simko, the […]

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May 21, 2012

Biomass Worth Your Consideration: GGS Structures

There are times when greenhouse growers can learn a thing or two from those producing vegetables indoors. The case of Taste Of The North, a Québec-based tomato, cucumber and bell pepper producer, is a good example. Eric Frechette, owner of Taste Of The North, purchased all the shares of Serres Lacoste 2000 in June 2011, and he immediately began an aggressive expansion and modernization plan. “The plan was to convert the existing heating system from waste oil to biomass in order to save more than 50 percent of heating costs, 10,000 tons of gas emissions and stop the dependence on fossil fuels,” Frechette says. “We also added another [2.5 acres] of greenhouses in order to meet the demand for high-end beefsteak tomatoes in Québec and New England markets.” Taste Of The North hired Niagrow Systems to design its heating system, and it worked with Chauffage Econoserres to manufacture an 850-horsepower […]

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