January 13, 2009

Pleasant View Cuts Heating Costs, Earns Grant

New Hampshire grower Pleasant View Gardens is installing a brand new biomass burner and boiler to heat a portion of its Pembroke location. In the process, it earned a $500,000 grant to do it. The grant came from the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants program. The biomass burner, which will burn wood chips, will cut the grower’s oil use to zero and potentially cut heating costs by 85 percent. The burner cost $2 million to install and will drop the total amount of oil used at Pleasant View’s two facilities by half–from 600,000 gallons for both locations to 350,000 gallons burned at the Loudon location. “Given drastic increases in heating costs, we knew it was time to make a move–alternate power was a natural choice for us,” says Henry Huntington, president of Pleasant View Gardens. “With oil prices on the rise, the proof is in the numbers. […]

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November 19, 2008

Fire Engulfs Aldershot Of New Mexico Facility

A packing and shipping building at Aldershot of New Mexico caught fire last Thursday in Mesilla Park, N.M. A welder’s torch caused the fire, authorities say, sparking insulation and eventually gutting the building in a massive fire that reignited for a few minutes Friday afternoon. Greenhouses filled with poinsettias, tulips, mums, roses and other potted plants were untouched, The Las Cruces Sun-News reported. As of the weekend, a damage estimate had yet to be determined. Owner Peter Vanderlugt, however, anticipates being able to fill most holiday contracts. He also expects to maintain his entire staff of 100 employees despite the potential cost damages. Multiple firefighting agencies responded Thursday, including county volunteers, the city of Las Cruces and White Sands fire departments.

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November 11, 2008

Learning To Conserve by A.J. Both

Rising energy costs this century have had a particularly severe impact on the greenhouse industry because structures are generally designed for maximum light transmissions and not maximum heat retention. While fluctuations in future energy prices are likely, the general consensus is that prices will remain high. Energy use and management will continue to have a significant impact on our industry. While it is likely conventional and alternative energy sources will continue to be used by the greenhouse industry, new improved energy collection and storage technologies offer the potential for future commercial greenhouses to be net energy producers rather than energy consumers. Conservation The past three decades have shown that before considering the installation of new energy equipment, it literally paid to operate existing energy systems as efficiently as possible. Over the next decades, it is likely the cost of implementing energy conservation measures will continue to be less than the […]

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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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