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 the SolarSoft 85 polycarbonate diffused the light and made it very comfortable inside the structures. My head grower Roger Vasquez loves the new greenhouses and the crop that he is able to grow in them.”
With three Nexus structures that survived the February storm undamaged, BFN called on Nexus’ Greg Ellis to design a plan, along with two other companies, to replace a range of greenhouses the blizzard destroyed.
“Nexus replaced them with a better structure that will make us more versatile and give us an environment to grow the quality of plants that we are known for,” Berry says.
In addition to wanting durable structures, a short construction time was also essential. BFN needed to begin crop production as quickly as possible.
The construction of fifteen 87-by-96-foot modules was complex, with fog, mud, rain and heavy winds constantly providing challenges.
In addition to the weather, BFN faced other headaches including a six-foot elevation drop from corner to corner in one of the modules, and the ten-module unit included a 16-foot drop from corner to corner. This made the layout and installation of roll-up walls and other items difficult.
“One of the features of the new range is the roll-up sidewalls that provide natural ventilation,” Berry says. “More importantly, they let our growers move in and out of the structures, wherever they are. It saves time and makes us very efficient. The plants also love the natural ventilation.”
All the structural complications were eventually resolved, and BFN was able to put plants in the new structures five to six weeks later.
“[The new structures] are everything I wanted them to be,” Berry says. “Construction was done on schedule, which was no mean feat. The structures provide a great growing environment and provide us with upgraded structures built to last a long time.”