Back to School; Expansions; Fighting Spider Mites and Blasting Off

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Greenhouse vegetable news from GrowerTalks magazine
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Jen Polanz Subscribe
Inside Grower

Going Back To School
NatureFresh's New Facility
Mucci Farms Expansion
New Tech Conference
Kemin Adds Sales Manager
Fighting Two-spotted Spider Mite
Geeking Out (Just a Bit)

Back To School

My kids are a mere six weeks away from that blessed event (for them) called summer break. However, you have more opportunities than ever to go back to school this spring and summer with a wide variety of in-person and online educational events. Check out just a few here:

  • CropKing is hosting two-day hydroponic grower training workshops at its headquarters in Lodi, Ohio, which run May 18-19. The course spends half the time in a classroom setting with presentations from resident experts and the other half in a CropKing greenhouse from the surrounding area. The programs are geared more toward novice or prospective hydroponic growers. Find out more or sign up at’s-school. Space is limited.
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension is offering online crop management training courses in English and Spanish starting June 19. This is the third year for the program and the schedule or courses includes Greenhouse 101, Nutrient Management 1 (Intro), Nutrient Management 2 (Advanced), Weed Management, and Costing and Profitability. Each course runs for four weeks and includes a personalized certification upon completion. Classes are completely online and include streaming videos, readings and assignments. They're available any time of day and new modules are activated each week during the course. Register online at
  • Don’t forget about our Ball Publishing webinar Wednesday (tomorrow!): “Growing Edible Crops—Lettuce, Herbs, Tomatoes and More—with LED Lighting.” It kicks off at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/Noon Central. LED lighting technology is being used by more and more growers because of benefits that include faster growth, more flowering and improved coloration. Learn how LEDs can improve growth of lettuce, leafy greens, herbs and high-wire tomatoes and cucumbers. Our guest experts are Doug Marlow, Business Development Manager; and Erik Stappers, Plant Specialist. Both are with the Horticulture LED Solutions division of Philips Lighting. Your host, of course, is Chris Beytes, editor of GrowerTalks and Green Profit magazines. Click here to register.

NatureFresh To Build New Distribution Center

NatureFresh Farms announced this month it will build a new 106,000-sq. ft. distribution center in Leamington, Ontario, in response to the demand for greenhouse-grown products. The new facility is expected to be completed by mid-summer.

The distribution center will complement the existing five distribution centers currently operational across the company’s 130 acres in Leamington, Ontario.

“The continued expansion of our operations and launch of new products is a direct result of the growth of the NatureFresh Farms brand,” says President Peter Quiring in a statement released by the company. “Over the last few years, we have increased our production capacity to meet the demands of our retail partners. Our commitment to quality, regardless of season, is enabling NatureFresh Farms to be an integrated supplier 12 months a year.”

The statement also said the company has outgrown the 60,000-sq. ft. distribution facility opened in Toledo last fall to service the 45 acres of greenhouse built in Delta, Ohio. That distribution center is expected to be expanded in the months to come, as well.

Mucci Farms Announces Greenhouse Expansion

Another Canadian greenhouse grower, Mucci Farms, announced its intentions to double its greenhouse space in Kingsville, Ontario, for strawberry production. The expansion to 24 acres is expected to be completed by the fall, according to a story that ran in the Windsor Star.

“We’ve been experimenting with it for the last two years, but I think finally we’ve got all our ducks in a line and are making some serious headway,” Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing, told the Windsor Star about growing strawberries under glass. “We’re getting some serious traction with this new item.”

Mucci Farms first shipped greenhouse-grown strawberries to Canadian and U.S. retailers in October, and the response was strong, prompting the expansion. The story says the company partnered with Dutch growers to help them with the production process, since greenhouse-grown strawberries are quite common in Europe.

Joe told the Windsor Star they have enough land to continue with Phases 3 and 4 for expansion, eventually resulting in quadruple the amount of the original 12 acres of production space. An added benefit of greenhouse strawberries, he adds, is that they require no pesticides.

AmericanHort's New Tech Production Conference

If you’re one of those people who gets super geeked out about environmental controls, precision lighting and other labor-reducing greenhouse technology, there’s now a whole conference just for you. AmericanHort created a new three-day Production Technology Conference for nursery and greenhouse growers. The first one will be held October 9-11 in Dallas, Texas.

Attendees will hear experts talk about innovations relating to lighting, irrigation and water management, environmental controls and software, and production management. There also will be a tour featuring Hort Americas’ Greenhouse (which we covered in the “Hydroponic Superhero” about Tyler Baras in the October 2016 Inside Grower supplement), Seville Farms and Southwest Nursery.

Find out more about the conference and register at

Kemin Crop Technologies Adds Sales Manager

Kemin Crop Technologies has named Brett Cranston sales manager, responsible for the direct sales of Kemin products to commercial hort operations focusing on fruit and vegetable markets. The company is an initiative of Kemin Industries focused on providing solutions for commercial greenhouses and commercial horticulture.

“Brett will have the opportunity to go beyond the role of a sales manager and take a leading role in the strategic planning and evolution of the crop technologies initiative in the horticulture industry,” says Riaan van Dyk, worldwide vice president of marketing and strategy for Kemin Industries. “We’re excited to bring his perspective and leadership to the team.”

Brett comes from Extenday USA, where he served as a technical field and sales support member. He's a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education and Agronomy.

“I’m looking forward to working closely with our customers to provide tailored solutions to their existing programs to enhance crop performance and profitability,” Brett says.

Fighting Two-spotted Spider Mite

Biobest recently released information about how to control and knock down a two-spotted spider mite outbreak on greenhouse-grown cucumber. Not addressing the situation early can lead to major crop damage, according to the release, which goes on to state Biobest recommends a multi-pronged approach for optimal control.

 “A resourceful pest, spider mite can survive cool winter conditions by hibernating in the glasshouse frame, making thorough disinfection between crop cycles prudent,” says Pascal Briand, IPM and pollination specialist at Biobest.   

A sign of two-spotted spider mite activity.

As days lengthen and temperatures rise, spider mites become more active. Early detection is key. However, unlike flying pests—such as whitefly, aphid and thrips—spider mite cannot be reliably monitored using sticky cards. To detect symptoms, close crop inspection involving the whole plant, is essential (see picture). The pest generally appears first in hotspots—in warmer and dryer parts of the glasshouse.

Click here to read the rest of Biobest’s recommendations.

Geeking Out (Just a Bit)

Now I’m the one who’s going to geek out a bit, so bear with me. Yesterday at 11:11 a.m., the Atlas V rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, and 21 minutes later the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft (dubbed the S.S. John Glenn) separated from the rocket, on course for the International Space Station carrying about 7,600 lbs. of food, supplies and science experiments.

Why is this important? The cargo ship is carrying the Advanced Plant Habitat, or APH, a fully automated growth chamber designed by Wisconsin-based ORBITEC that will allow astronauts on the ISS to continue with experiments related to growing their own food. I’m just putting the finishing touches on a story for the June issue of Inside Grower interviewing researchers at NASA, as well as university researchers here in the U.S. and in the Netherlands to gain a better understanding of the experiments happening on the ground and up in the stars.

Watch the liftoff here and stay tuned for more on the APH in future issues of Inside Grower and in the June print supplement.

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

Until next time,

Jennifer Polanz
Inside Grower

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