Hydroponic Lettuce Grower Visit; Weed Control; Aquaponics & More

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Jen Polanz Subscribe
Inside Grower

Visit to Great Lakes Growers
CA Veggie Trials
Steam for Weed Control
Aquaponics How-To
Upcoming CEA Webinars
Cannabis Summit & Expo

Visit to Great Lakes Growers

Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, let’s start with a little green. Or about 75,000 sq. ft. of green, to be more precise. I recently made the 45-minute trek to Burton, Ohio, with friend and colleague Maria Zampini to check out Great Lakes Growers, a small (but growing) hydroponic operation nestled in hilly Amish country.

It’s co-owned by John Bonner, who's no stranger to the horticulture industry. You’ll read more about the operation in the June print supplement of Inside Grower, but you may recognize John’s name from his time at Eagle Creek Wholesale. He started the hydroponic operation with business partner Tim Ryan in John’s hometown nearly four years ago and built it rather quickly to what they are today, which is a lettuce and basil grower for select grocery stores and restaurants. All told, they grow eight different types of lettuce and 11 different herbs, plus varieties like arugula and watercress.

Lettuce plants start out spaced closer together then go through six more spacing changes until they end up 10-in. apart before harvest.

One thing John does that he learned from watching growers during his floriculture days is he changes the spacing of his lettuce crops no less than seven times. Once the young plants are ready, they're broken off from their Oasis blocks (104 cell trays) and hand stuck into NFT troughs. He starts them in very tight spacing and says he can grow an extra 700,000 plants per year by starting them tight and then re-spacing as they grow. As they move down the NFT line, they get spaced multiple times as they grow until they end up finishing at 10-in. spacing.

Stay tuned for more on Great Lakes Growers in the June supplement!

California Veggie Trials

Looking for new veggies to grow for your retail customers? The National Garden Bureau is once again hosting the Summer Vegetable Trials with five breeders in California August 14-19. The breeders will be holding open houses and field days at seven locations.

The breeders are:

  • PanAmerican Seed
  • Sakata Seed America
  • Seeds by Design/Terra Organics
  • Seminis/Monsanto Home & Garden
  • Syngenta

Find out more at https://vegetabletrials.co.

Alternative Weed Control: Hot Water?

Will hot water and/or steam work to kill weed seeds in the greenhouse? An Agricultural Research Service researcher is exploring the temperature and exposure time needed to kill weed seeds with hot water or steam, which can be particularly beneficial in areas like propagation houses where you can’t use herbicides.

Weed seeds can stick to the inside of reused containers.

Dr. James Altland and researchers at ARS in Wooster, Ohio, have found that creeping woodsorrell requires exposure to 90C (or about 195F) for five minutes for 100% control. Bittercress was completely controlled at the same temperature in one minute.

These weed seeds can stick to plastic containers and trays and are many times reintroduced into the production system when they're reused, according to a press release explaining the treatment findings. The research was funded in part from the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI) and endorsed by the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI).

Aquaponics How-To

If you’re interested in making your own aquaponics system to test out in your growing facility, block off Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. The University of New Hampshire Macfarlane Research Greenhouse is holding a seminar on how to create your own aquaponics system using household materials for home gardeners, greenhouse producers and landscapers. The seminar is part of a larger Open House series on a variety of gardening topics.

The NH Agricultural Experiment Station also will host a Research Field Day on Friday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., where researchers will be available to talk about the latest UNH research on vegetable and fruit breeding, aquaponics and other topics.

The open house activities also include a tour of the Macfarlane Research Greenhouses and the UNH high tunnels, where students produce greens for on-campus consumption. Find out more information at the NHAES Facebook page.

Upcoming Webinars

If you can’t make it to UNH’s aquaponics how-to class, you can still gain some knowledge about making your own CEA program more efficient through the Controlled Environment Agricultural Center’s webinar series on that Friday, March 31.

At 4:45 p.m. MST, Dr. Murat Kacira, CEAC faculty at the University of Arizona, will deliver a presentation called “Resource Use Efficient CEA Systems Through Smart Sensing and Monitoring, and Climate Control Technologies.”

Click here to sign up for the webinar.

Also, our very own Chris Beytes will be hosting a webinar coming up at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/Noon central on Wednesday, April 19, titled “Growing Edible Crops—Lettuce, Herbs, Tomatoes and More—with LED Lighting.” His guest experts are Doug Marlow, Business Development Manager; and Erik Stappers, Plant Specialist, with the Horticulture LED Solutions division of Philips Lighting. The webinar will explore:

  • The benefits of adding supplemental light to your edible crop growing area
  • Factors to consider when comparing LED to high-pressure sodium
  • The effect of LED blue and red spectrum on crop growth

Sign up at www.ballpublishing.com/webinars.

Cannabis Business Summit & Expo Approaching

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the legal cannabis industry’s only trade association, will hold its 4th annual Cannabis Business Summit & Expo at the Oakland Marriott City Center in Oakland, California, June 12-14.

The event includes personalized hands-on workshops, a five-track general summit and peer-reviewed presentations. Following the 2016 election, the organization says it has set this theme: “Cultivating a New Era of Enterprise.”

Pre-summit activities on June 12 include a full-day workshop by the Cannabis Conservancy, a full-day boot camp on starting and operating a successful cannabis company, continuing legal education sessions with the National Cannabis Bar Association and behind-the-scenes cannabis business tours.

The summit runs June 13-14 with keynote speakers, more than 80,000 sq. ft. of expo trade show floor, five educational session tracks, networking reception and an after-party.

Click here to find out more or to register.

As always, feel free to email me at jpolanz@ballpublishing.com with comments, questions, news and views.

Until next time,

Jennifer Polanz
Inside Grower

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