June 19, 2008

Retrofitting Options

Retrofitting a greenhouse is all about spending money to save money. In many cases, increased energy efficiency may be the easiest way to see new technologies impact the bottom line. However, the benefit of improved crop performance should not be overlooked as a factor in the bottom line savings (or rather gains)–from faster turns and fewer chemicals to improved labor conditions and reduced disease potential. Though there are numerous components of a greenhouse where retrofitting may result in greater efficiency, this article will focus on those that influence temperature and light. Shade Netting For years, shade netting was available in black with the amount of shade determined by how tightly knit the fabric was woven. The purpose was primarily to reduce heat or light. Over the years, new colors have been introduced, including an aluminum covered fiber, in an effort to manage the light while reducing the heat. Frank Giglia, […]

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June 19, 2008

Attacking Growers’ Diverse Challenges

No two greenhouses are alike. Each has its own set of differences, such as the crops, the climate, the production volume, the existing facilities and more. It is also true that no two greenhouse builders are exactly alike in their approaches to the challenges provided by the diversity of growers. "Most of the commercial growers we deal with have a little bit of glass and have a little bit of polyethylene, as well as some longer-term plastics covering," says Scott Thompson, executive vice president at X.S. Smith Inc., Washington, N.C. "They like to see a mixture, because at certain times of the year or in stages of their production cycle, those areas are constantly in operation. Our mission is to try to design and create systems that will accommodate their particular production needs for the crop they grow, as well as the region where they are producing that crop." Maintaining temperatures […]

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June 19, 2008

New Equipment Woes

Does this font make me look fat? OK, don’t answer that. If you think you notice something different about Greenhouse Grower this month but can’t quite put your finger on it, you’re right. We have new fonts. It’s a mini-makeover, a grooming. The new fonts are just the visible part of a huge overhaul going on here at Meister Media Worldwide. Our editors, artists and production staff have switched page layout software, moving from Quark to InDesign. And it hasn’t been a completely painless process. There are new keystrokes and workflows to learn, but ultimately this move brings us into the 21st century. Even though we all knew that this switch would increase productivity and add a few tools that would make work easier, I think we all resisted, at least a little. Yes, new is good, but it also takes a while to get used to. Now I have a […]

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June 19, 2008

Repelling Radiant Energy

For bedding plant growers who grow every month of the year, shading, cooling and ventilating prevent greenhouses from overheating and creating a stressful environment for the plants. The greenhouse was developed for plant protection against local climatic extreme pressures such as wind, rain, snow and insects. The greenhouse structure is the starting point for controlling the climate or for creating a climate that is tolerable and ideal for plants. If one is growing year-round most anywhere in North America, there are certain months when overheating is a problem. The plants being grown need to be protected from a too stressful environment. Ventilating and/or cooling must be used to drive the temperature down. From a practical perspective, the first step in the cooling of a greenhouse is to ventilate it or exchange the captured heat with fresh, outdoor air. For example, let the wind extract the hot air or install exhaust fans […]

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June 19, 2008

New Product Shorts

Long-Term Control BASF: Insignia fungicide from BASF offers long-term control for a broad spectrum of ornamental diseases, including anthracnose, leaf spots, powdery mildew, downy mildew, rusts, scabs, Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Phytophthora diseases and more. The residual control Insignia delivers can help reduce labor and material costs. High Stature BASF: Stature DM fungicide from BASF uses a distinctly different mode of action to deliver protective, curative and antisporulant activities on problem pathogens like downy mildews, as well as Phytophthora root, crown and stem diseases. Stature DM also controls Sudden Oak Death, performing very well against it in research trials. Shining Star Cleary: TriStar 70 WSP from Cleary is a foliar insecticide with broad spectrum control of key, economically important insect pests like aphids, mealy bugs, caterpillars, scales, whiteflies, thrips, leaf-eating beetles and leaf miners. The new TriStar 30 SG formulation will make this insect control even easier to measure, mix and […]

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June 19, 2008

New Product Shorts

Super Model GF Delta T Solutions:   Shield tubular gas-fired unit heaters are the newest product offering in Delta T Solutions’ full line of greenhouse heating systems. Also called the Model GF, this complete heating system offers innovative features that make it a long-lasting and reliable source of safe, efficient and economical greenhouse heating. Some key product features of the Model GF heaters include stainless steel construction designed to withstand moisture and chemicals and a tubular heat exchanger for significantly longer life.  Tough Tunnel Agra Tech: The Agra Hi-Tunnel is designed to cover very large areas and can withstand high winds and pounding rain. Constructed of high tensile galvanized tubing, installation is simple and requires no concrete foundation. In addition, the Agra Hi-Tunnel can be covered with Poly or cloth for further protection from undesirable climate and insects. Sure Thing CH2O Incorporated: CH2O has introduced its patented Sure Flow irrigation […]

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June 19, 2008

Fueling Expansion

Generation X growers are ready for tomorrow’s challenges. Pictured from left are John Bonner, sister Jill Cain with husband Todd Cain. When we visited, they were growing Easter crops in new greenhouses.In less than 10 years, Eagle Creek Growers in Mantua, Ohio, has emerged as a model mid-sized operation with room to grow. The modern growing operation was founded in 1998 by Jill (Bonner) Cain about an hour’s drive southeast of Cleveland. She was fresh out of college, implementing a business plan she drafted for a course at Ohio University. Up until recently, Eagle Creek’s primary customer was Eagle Creek Garden Center, an upscale destination garden center she opened in nearby Bainbridge four years later. In 2003, her brother, John Bonner, and husband, Todd Cain, took over the wholesale operation while Jill focused most of her time on retail. Both John and Jill are third-generation entrepreneurs in our industry. Their grandfather, […]

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June 19, 2008

Who’s Your Mr. Fix-It?

To be honest, greenhouses mystify me. I don’t know how all of you out there do it. So much can go wrong–disease and pests, nutrition–and that’s just problems with your plants. Your structures are a whole other story. There are so many things to worry about–not enough heat, too much heat, expensive heat, water logistics. And, of course, there are the more extreme worries–debilitating hurricanes, fires and snowstorms. Getting ahead and staying ahead of structures issues is a job in itself, forget about growing great plants. That’s why we were so impressed when we visited Eagle Creek’s greenhouses in Mantua, Ohio. Siblings John Bonner and Jill Cain gave us the grand tour of the facilities, but Gary Jansen, the facility’s maintenance magician and all-around Mr. Fix-It, really impressed us. The facility has switched its fuel source from petroleum-based products to wood-based products. And the mid-sized operation has two huge indoor pools […]

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June 18, 2008

Earth-Mindful Mixes

PBH Growing Medium Material is a parboiled rice hull amendment and a sustainable replacement for perlite in the growing media. This processed rice hull product from Riceland Foods Inc. is a renewable resource and is very lightweight. PBH is highly compressed when packaged, requiring less storage, handling and freight, and is available in standard or bulk bale. This product is sized, cleaned and subjected to a series of heat treatments that sterilize the rice hulls and render any residual rice kernels, weed seeds or disease pathogens non-viable. The parboiling process includes steeping in water at a temperature higher than 140ËšF, steaming under pressure to temperatures above 212ËšF and hot-air drying at 500ËšF. Recommended PBH usage is 10 to 30 percent of the total growing media, and it should be added last during the blending process. PBH decomposes naturally, but will not do so during the normal production cycle of greenhouse […]

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June 18, 2008

Insights on Retractable Roof Greenhouses

Retractable roofs first came on the production greenhouse scene in 1991. In these past 16 years what have we learned about their role in cooling, ventilating and shading? The concept of opening the greenhouse’s roof to get cooler air to plants is a logical one that most growers are catching on to, according to Richard Vollebregt, President of Cravo Equipment Ltd., Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Long growing seasons, varied needs of plants and changing weather conditions make retractable roof greenhouses and their versatility an asset. This January, a freeze surprised growers on the West Coast, where the promise of mild temperatures lulled growers into leaving crops unprotected against the elements. “The plants that were in the greenhouse were okay,” Vollebregt says. “What happened to all the plants that were outside? They died.” The balance between healthy, strong plants that are grown outside and protected plants in the greenhouse that need to […]

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June 18, 2008

Time Is Money

From labor savings to quality of life, there are many ways growers measure return on investment (ROI) that go beyond the traditional monetary payback. In the end, time spent doing a task that could be quicker, more accurate and more efficient if it were automated translates to dollar signs anyway. It’s all in how you look at it and what your end goal might be. Aside from the general three-to-five-year ROI rule of thumb, there are times when an investment can be considered a “no-brainer,” but there are also times when a grower has to stifle enthusiasm about an investment. We talked to representatives of two very innovative grower operations–one large and one small–with very different philosophies. Both are cautious and calculated about making buying decisions and their methods clearly work for their own needs and goals.  Buying Time The smartest decision Lloyd Traven, owner of Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, […]

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June 18, 2008

New Product Shorts

  Easy Sprayer Dramm: Dramm has improved its easy-to-use Hydra Sprayer, redesigning the cart and tank and replacing the 45-gallon tank with a 50-gallon tank. The new 50-gallon tank has an improved sump well that ensures proper draining. The 50-gallon size makes mixing calculations easier. The Hydra features an anti-birdnesting hose reel, solid rubber wheels, easy-to-maneuver rear casters, an extra high-flow, low maintenance pump and ergonomic, forward motion Hydra spray gun. Accurate Relilability  Chemilizer: The Chemilizer CP33 is an adjustable, non-electric water-driven injector ideally suited for nursery and greenhouse use and water chlorination. It precisely injects liquid fertilizers, fungicides, insecticides and growth regulators. It offers accurate, reliable injection and is backed by an excellent warranty. Speed, Muscle And Brains  Wadsworth Control Systems: Wadsworth’s new 3 RPM VC-2000 drive unit for roof vents and roll-up side walls is 2 1/2 times as fast as the original VC-2000. It does not sacrifice […]

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