General

The Recent Snow Storm Can be Costly

Snow that accumulates on a greenhouse can put significant weight on the structural members. Snow can be light and fluffly with a water equivalent of 12 inches of snow equal to 1 inch of rain. It can also be wet and heavy with 3 inches of snow equal to 1 inch of rain. Snow having a 1 inch of rain water equivalent will load a greenhouse with 5.2 psf. This amounts to 6.5 tons on a 25' X 96' greenhouse.

Growing Spring Crops at Cool Greenhouse Temperatures

Cool outdoor temperatures continue and energy costs are high. Some things to consider if you are growing crops cooler to save energy costs:

Seed Germination: Don’t skimp on heat here. Temperatures too cool during seed germination will delay germination, reduce percent germination and decrease the uniformity. For most species, germination media temperature should be 72F-76F. After a crop is established, most plants will tolerate non-optimal temperatures more easily.

Fan Shutter Heat Loss is Significant

Did you ever consider how much heat loss there is through fan and intake shutters?

Heat loss through a shutter occurs by conduction through the metal or plastic and by air exchange (infiltration) through the cracks between the blades. If the shutter closes tightly, then most of the loss is by conduction. If the blades are bent or if the hinges are sticky, then infiltration can be the greatest loss. I have seen shutters that were open during the winter with gaps as wide as 1”.

Handling Plants on Arrival

As plant material is received and handled during this busy time, here are a few guidelines to have greater successes and fewer problems.

Open and unpack the boxes immediately upon arrival and check the physical condition of the plants. Also inspect plants for root and foliar diseases and for insects and mites. Report any damage or discrepancies immediately to your supplier (most companies want to hear within 24 hours).

Inspect Incoming Plants

Pre-Season Cleanup

Hopefully, your greenhouses are now thoroughly cleaned so there is no leftover debris, organic material, weeds and "pet plants" that may serve as a source of pests and diseases plus thoroughly disinfested in preparation for the upcoming growing season.

Inspecting incoming plants

Handling Growing Media

How a mix is handled can affect the air and water content of the mix. Compaction is an important factor to consider for plant root health when handling growing media. Air space that results in good drainage can be cut in half or even eliminated by compaction. To minimize compaction, containers, cell packs and plug trays should be lightly filled and the excess brushed away. The media should not be packed down, tamped down, or the filled pots tapped down on the bench several times, and the pots and trays should not be stacked directly over one another.

Saving Energy Dollars

The payback on energy conservation is only 6 months to 2 years according to John Bartok at a recent Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Program.

Energy conservation is an important first step even if you are considering changing to alternative fuels. So, take some time to do a walk thru energy audit of your greenhouse operation and see web sites below for links to more information on energy conservation and renewable energy to assist in your decision making and planning for the future.

For more information:

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