Building Strong Structures With X.S. Smith

Barlow Flower Farm lost 10 greenhouses to snow accumulation.

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 veterans and have seen heavy snowfall before.

With fuel prices surging and a softer plant market through the holidays, however, many greenhouse growers had taken to shutting down their operations when not in use. The upside is instant savings on fuel and a better bottom line. The downside can be catastrophic damage caused by heavy, unheated snow loads – followed by complete rebuilds.

When the storm hit, it was as bad as Thompson had seen in 35 years. It snowed for 15 hours. He measured 31 inches of snow, and drifts accumulated to eight feet. Fortunately, Thompson still had power, but he was snowed in as the plows were not strong enough to push through. Front end loaders were required to move snow off the roads.

Thompson contacted as many of his customers as possible to get damage reports. Most were mentally and physically stressed but in the end had come through the storm fairly well, all things considered.

Others were not as lucky.

One of the unlucky ones was Stephen Barlow at Barlow Flower Farm in Sea Girt, N.J. Barlow is the general manager at the facility and had been up all night on his skid steer pushing snow at his place and others to remain operational. The farm is a second generation grower/retail operation, producing a wide variety of seasonal flowering potted plants with approximately 70,000 square feet under cover.

Several of his 22-by-96-foot arch-style freestanding greenhouses did not fare well. Because the heat was shut off and northeasterly winds had drifted the snow between houses, Barlow had multiple collapses on the eastern side of as many as 10 of his 32 structures. Four were totaled, but six could be repaired and reused.

On-site inspections revealed snow accumulations eight feet or more solid between houses and pushing hard on the frames. Thompson and Barlow assessed the damage, took action to cut poly coverings to immediately relieve stress on the frames and started to plan and budget for the recovery. Vertical supports could be added to the remaining structures, while a completely new facility was plotted out in the area where the four totaled houses needed to be removed.

The rebuild included wider-span gothic profile greenhouses called Sun Kings. Each of these structures boasted a 30-inch width rather than a 22-inch arch profile. Choosing the Sun King option resulted in a lower cost per square foot for the new buildings, and the steeper pitch roof slope allowed for wonderful snow sliding capabilities. A new building layout would connect the structures to a central loading area that can be covered as the funding and project progresses. The project also includes the addition of Wadsworth environmental controls for equipment operation. All together, these revisions and additions have yielded greater crop uniformity at a dramatically reduced operating cost.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Building Strong Structures With X.S. Smith

More From Structures...
Common Greenhouse Maintenance Problems GVZ Glasshouses

September 14, 2017

How to Deal With Common Greenhouse Maintenance Issues

The most common problems often come from a lack of cleanliness and faulty equipment. Here are a number of tips you can follow in each of these areas.

Read More
Youngs Greenhouse Space Growing Feature

August 14, 2017

How Young’s Plant Farm Invests in New Structures and Equipment

The Auburn, AL-based Top 100 Grower operation is improving its production infrastructure so it can continue to efficiently produce quality plants and keep up with demand.

Read More
CS3 Greenhouse (Stuppy)

June 4, 2017

7 Factors That Can Determine the Cost of Building a New Greenhouse

Want to know the main factors that determine the cost of building a new greenhouse? Phil Bishop of Stuppy has put together an overview of the expenses involved in this type of project.

Read More
Latest Stories
Common Greenhouse Maintenance Problems GVZ Glasshouses

September 14, 2017

How to Deal With Common Greenhouse Maintenance Issues

The most common problems often come from a lack of cleanliness and faulty equipment. Here are a number of tips you can follow in each of these areas.

Read More
Youngs Greenhouse Space Growing Feature

August 14, 2017

How Young’s Plant Farm Invests in New Structures and Eq…

The Auburn, AL-based Top 100 Grower operation is improving its production infrastructure so it can continue to efficiently produce quality plants and keep up with demand.

Read More
CS3 Greenhouse (Stuppy)

June 4, 2017

7 Factors That Can Determine the Cost of Building a New…

Want to know the main factors that determine the cost of building a new greenhouse? Phil Bishop of Stuppy has put together an overview of the expenses involved in this type of project.

Read More
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

May 28, 2017

Growers Offer Advice on What to Know Before Your Next B…

Two Top 100 Growers discuss their most recent building projects, the challenges they addressed, and what they learned during the process.

Read More
GGS Cannabis Production

April 19, 2017

Suppliers Can Offer Technical Solutions for New Cannabi…

Here’s a look at how a few manufacturers have partnered with growers to make their transition into cannabis a smooth one, whether it’s through hands-on guidance or partnering with other industry leaders.

Read More
GrowSpan Series 1000 Greenhouse (GrowSpan) feature

March 24, 2017

New Greenhouse Structure Models Emphasize Crop Protecti…

Manufacturers of new structure models say they are responding to grower concerns with designs that focus on ventilation, maximizing your space, and incorporating a wide range of crops. Here’s a look at some of their latest offerings.

Read More
Brian Munchel

March 18, 2017

Brian Munchel of Ludy Greenhouse Manufacturing Dies at …

Munchel, a long-time member of the National Greenhouse Manufacturing Association, worked at Ludy Greenhouse Manufacturing for more than 30 years and was a computer-aided draftsman.

Read More
Nexus Atrium for Prides Corner

March 15, 2017

How Tech Suppliers Are Helping Growers Find Solutions

Greenhouse structures and components manufacturers highlight some of their most recent projects.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Growers Planning to Invest in Structures in 2017

Data from this year’s Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry survey indicates that growers are planning to make major investments in structures and facility upgrades this year.

Read More
NVAC Greenhouse prototype

February 15, 2017

New Greenhouse Cooling System in Development for Hot-Cl…

Researchers at McGill University in Quebec have developed an alternative evaporative cooling solution for greenhouses in warm climates, and are now seeking commercial partners.

Read More

February 15, 2017

Registration Open for NGMA Spring Meeting

The annual gathering of the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association will feature a look at green industry trends, emerging market opportunities, and more.

Read More
EFTE Film

January 18, 2017

Looking at Glass or Polyethylene for Your New Structure…

Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene, also known as EFTE, is a fluorine-based material that looks like a standard polyethylene greenhouse film but offers high light transmittance.

Read More
Nadia Sabeh, CEAC

January 18, 2017

Upcoming Seminars to Focus on Managing the Greenhouse E…

The seminars, which will also be accessible online, are presented by the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

Read More

November 16, 2016

Stay Up To Date On Greenhouse Structures And Materials

eGro, an online resource for greenhouse growers, features a series of video lectures and tutorials on a wide variety of topics, including greenhouse structures and terminology, heating and cooling, and more.

Read More
Dual Atrium Greenhouse (Nexus)

October 12, 2016

Gibraltar Industries Acquires Nexus Corporation

The building manufacturer and distributor strengthens its position in the U.S. greenhouse market, complementing its RBI greenhouse company with the aquisition of Nexus Corp.

Read More
Gotham Greens Atrium Style Greenhouse Chicago

September 14, 2016

How An Energy Audit Of Your Greenhouse Can Save You Mon…

Is your greenhouse utility bill getting you down? Consider an energy audit to evaluate potential energy savings.

Read More
JGS Structure at Vineland

September 14, 2016

Take A Virtual Tour Of Canada’s Vineland Greenhouse Tec…

The one-of-a-kind research greenhouse project was completed by JGS Limited and features 40,000 square feet of horticultural research space.

Read More
Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing's Rainbow Super Structure

September 14, 2016

NGMA Contributes Revisions And Updates To Building Code…

The revisions cover the definition of a greenhouse, improved efficiencies in making greenhouse code changes, and more.

Read More