New GA Greenhouse; Better Strawberries and Hort Therapy

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Greenhouse vegetable news from GrowerTalks magazine
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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Jen Polanz Subscribe
Inside Grower

Pure Flavor Expansion Plans
By The Numbers in the USA
Disease-Resistant Strawberries
Cannabis Workshop Soon
New Wrap for Propagation
Horticultural Therapy

Another Leamington Grower Expands Into the U.S.

The expansion south into the United States from Canada continues as Pure Flavor, a Leamington-based vegetable grower brand, announces plans to build a $105 million, 75-acre greenhouse facility south of Atlanta, Georgia.

The facility, much like others announced in the U.S. by Canadian growers, will be built in phases, this one in three phases of 25 acres over five years. The first phase, set to break ground this month, will encompass tomatoes and cucumbers, and is expected to create 200-plus new year-round jobs over those five years. Spokesman Chris Veillon says the location was chosen because of its ag-centric history with peaches.

“The leadership group of Pure Flavor spent more than two years researching the area to ensure the investment was a sound one,” he says.

Company President Jamie Moracci notes in the company’s release announcing the news that the Midwest is saturated with a variety of projects and that this is the first significant high-tech build in Georgia. The location is 90 minutes south of Atlanta in Peach County and less than three minutes from I-75. The distribution area, which includes 80 million people within a 24-hour drive, includes: Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas. The products will carry the Pure Flavor brand, as well as the Georgia Grown emblem.

By the Numbers in the USA

The number of greenhouse vegetable operations in the U.S. is increasing based on statistics provided to Inside Grower from Gary Hickman of Cuesta Roble Consulting. The USDA Census of Agriculture Report shows 8,750 greenhouse vegetable farms, which is a rather large increase of 115% from the report taken seven years before.

“It is interesting to note that 90% of these farms are (under) 0.2 ac. in size,” Gary adds.

The definition of greenhouse vegetable has some caveats, too, he notes. Although listed as greenhouse vegetables and herbs, the fine print shows that “greenhouse” is actually “under cover,” which is defined as greenhouses, cold frames, cloth houses and lath houses.

In Canada, the latest data shows 2,430 greenhouse vegetable farms, according to Gary, and in Mexico that number, which includes shade house, is reported at 30,932 facilities.

The newest USDA Census of Agriculture will be mailing questionnaires in December to farms and greenhouse operations in the U.S., which will be due in February. If you are a new operation, click here to get on the USDA’s list to be counted.

Are Disease-Resistant Strawberries in Our Future?

Steve Knapp is heading up the Public Strawberry Breeding Program at the University of California - Davis and his team just received a $4.5 million USDA grant to find new ways to create disease-resistant strawberries.

According to information released by UC Davis, researchers from six universities will work together to “identify and manage pathogen threats, mine elite and wild genetic resources to find natural sources of resistance to pathogens, and accelerate the development of public varieties resistant to a broad spectrum of disease and other pests.” The researchers are from UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the University of Florida.

California and Florida make up the bulk of the nation’s strawberry production and have been staring down the barrel of a complete phase out of methyl bromide after 2017. That methyl bromide allowed growers to treat soils before planting the berries in an effort to control soil-borne pathogens, to which strawberries are especially susceptible.

Steve took over the UC Davis Public Strawberry Breeding program two years ago and currently has 10 public varieties being tested with plans to release at least one or two later this year, according to the UC Davis website. Read the full story here.

Also, if you’ve never considered greenhouse strawberries, I found a super quick primer with the basics here.

Cannabis Workshop Coming Up Soon

If you're a medicinal marijuana grower and need some production advice, or if you’re interesting in getting started with it, Griffin Greenhouse Supplies has you covered. The folks there just announced they're hosting an educational workshop for medicinal marijuana growers on September 26 at the Lancaster County Convention Center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The workshop coincides with the Grower & Retailer Expo, which runs September 27 and 28 at the same location.

The workshop is a half-day program with three seminars presented by members of Griffin’s GGSPro technical services team.

“The workshop includes something for cannabis growers at every level of expertise,” says Tami Van Gaal, division leader for controlled environment agriculture at Griffin. “The program will help new growers get a solid start in crop production. Experienced commercial growers will gain insights to help improve yields and production efficiency.”

The workshop begins at noon with a catered lunch and sessions will follow on the topics of sanitation, crop fertility and pest control. The latter will focus on scouting techniques and the use of biological control agents.

Advanced registration is required and cost is $99 per person with group discounts available. Visit for details and to register. 

Biodegradable Paper Wrap for Propagation

Are you looking for something that will wrap plugs neatly during propagation? Oasis Grower Solutions recently introduced PlantPaper, a 100% biodegradable paper wrap for young plant propagation. It can be used with most paper pot machines and works well for slow-to-root cultivars, the company notes. The expected biodegradation of PlantPaper averages 12 months, but it could depend on the environment.

It’s available in plug diameters ranging from 20 to 80 mm and is ideal for stabilized media like Oasis’ Fertiss line. It’s an all-natural, bio-based wrap media that contains no glue and doesn’t leave chemical residues. Instead, it self-glues, and the sealing temperature for the paper is between 239 and 284F (115 and 140C) depending on equipment type, production speeds and run sizes.

“PlantPaper is unique in the industry because of its biodegradable qualities,” says Jeff Naymik, global marketing manager for Oasis Grower Solutions. “The Oasis PlantPaper is reinforced with fiber made of fully biodegradable corn, rather than plastic fibers made from oil that will not decompose.”

Horticultural Therapy

Future Farm Technologies, which just signed a lease for a vertical farm in Baltimore, announced at the end of August it will open a second location to double the size of the project to almost 50,000 sq. ft. The second location, also in Baltimore, is expected to be finalized sometime in September and will likely be operational sooner than the original location because it requires less construction build-out.

The first location is being leased from Volunteers of America Chesapeake, and will grow and distribute high-quality produce to local grocery stores, restaurants, institutional nonprofits and other buyers. The goals of both farms are to provide job-training opportunities—specifically to the VOA’s reentry program for ex-offenders in Baltimore, as well as to the local community—provide therapeutic programs, support entrepreneurship development and establish a model for replication at other re-entry and social services facilities.

“We are pleased to be working with CBO Financial and Volunteers of America Chesapeake on these projects and believe that their success will be a bellwether for public-private partnerships within the urban farming industry,” says William Gildea, Future Farm’s CEO and Chairman. “Our goal was always to create impactful social and corporate programs that are mutually beneficial for all involved, from the community, to the company and our shareholders.”

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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