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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October 6, 2008

Structures Company Expanding Into North America

V&V Agricultural Greenhouses, a Dutch structures company with responsibilities throughout Europe, plans to expand its business into North America. V&V specializes in complete turnkey glass greenhouse projects worldwide, and it will build the greenhouse right through to the supply and installation of all technical systems. Gord Bonisteel will direct the company’s expansion into North America. Greenhouse structures, glass and aluminum extrusions are all produced at V&V, which can provide standard Venlo glass greenhouses with sizes of 8, 9.6 and 12.8 meters. V&V will also fulfill custom orders, and it will make sure construction is perfectly configured and in line with local standards. For more information on V&V Agricultural Greenhouses, click here. Or, check out the V&V booth at Horti Fair.

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September 22, 2008

Let The Sun Shine In (Again)

I’ve been noticing lately that my tendency towards unreasonable perfectionism has increased in inverse proportion to the amount of time I have to perfect something. In other words, I’m not mellowing with age, a revelation which comes as no surprise to those around me most. So when I received some suggestions that my glazings overview article (“Let The Sun Shine In,” GG Mid-May ’06) wasn’t comprehensive enough, I figured I’d dedicate a column to patching the holes in my poly coverage. After that article, this column and all my laps of the tradeshow floor at OFA’s Short Course this year, I’m really hoping the supply of new glazings is as exhausted as I am! The Transmitter Kalwall Corporation has introduced its newest product, Sun-Lite HP, a glass fiber-reinforced polymer glazing that provides diffused light throughout the greenhouse. It transmits only the part of the UV spectrum (0.33 to 0.38 microns) […]

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September 18, 2008

Weathering The Winter

Well, it’s soon to be winter again. Those hot summer days are but memories to many growers, and it’s time to winterize your greenhouse. Your greenhouse should be checked inside and out to reduce winter disasters. Beginning on the exterior, check that all of your doors close and seal properly. A poor closing door blown open in the middle of a cold winter night could be disastrous, not to mention potential heat loss. Repair any holes that your forklift or other equipment might have put in the wall coverings. To increase your usable sunlight during winter’s low light levels, wash your roof and wall coverings. Check your poly manufacturer for specific instructions on cleaning. But for the most part, just use warm soapy water–nothing abrasive–and a soft cloth, and it will clean up nicely. Make sure you specifically clean any place you will be applying poly patch so it will […]

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September 2, 2008

Hurricane Gustav Slams Louisiana Nurseries

Trees are down and all of Forest Hill, La., a major nursery production area, is without power after Hurricane Gustav rolled through Monday, the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association reports. SNA has set up a disaster relief fund for those who would like to donate. To read or post updates about Gustav and its effects, click here. Check out Benchrunner next week and keep an eye on the homepage at greenhousegrower.com later this week for more coverage of Gustav’s effects on the industry.

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June 19, 2008

What About Structures?

Our Top 100 Growers survey turned up opinions and plans for structures from companies that have the most greenhouse space in the country. Here’s how they responded:  Are you planning any structural expansion in the next year? 54% No 46% Yes  If so, how many acres will you build? Average: 10.9 acres High: 100 acres Low: 1 acre Average turns per square foot: 2.7 High: 6 Low: 0.6  Average sales per foot: $10.38 High: $30 Low: $1.20  

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June 19, 2008

NGMA: The Next Generation

Fifty years makes a huge difference in the evolution of greenhouse architecture. From lean-tos and quonsets to gutter-connected, retractable-roof structures, commercial greenhouses have gained much from advances in technology. With more modern greenhouses have come advancements in the “furniture” to fill them, also known as greenhouse equipment and supplies, as well as innovative plastic films, which have revolutionized greenhouse shapes and framing systems. The growth of commercial floriculture and greenhouse vegetables over the years has fueled demand for greenhouse technology, and new manufacturers have emerged, raising competition and quality standards. All of this innovation needed organization–enter the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA). Founded in 1958, NGMA represents 65 member companies–27 component, 14 structural and nine service. These include greenhouse manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, as well as researchers, students, growers and other allied trades serving the international horticulture industry. Retrofitting Itself Today, NGMA is working to promote and defend greenhouse construction […]

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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

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

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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