Windsor researchers study solar-powered greenhouses

Windsor researchers study solar-powered greenhouses

University of Windsor researchers have teamed with local produce growers to improve greenhouse energy efficiency and decrease operating costs.

To water or not to water, ask the computer

To water or not to water, ask the computer

With so many other tasks requiring attention, modern greenhouses are beginning to integrate automated systems for crop moisture assessment.

Science of retail: Eye-tracking in the garden centre

Science of retail: Eye-tracking in the garden centre

The longer someone interacts with plant material, the more likely they are to spend money, says Dr. Bridget Behe, professor of horticulture at Michigan State University. But she’s not talking hours or minutes – they’re mere seconds.

Empower plants through well-balanced irrigation

Empower plants through well-balanced irrigation

What is plant empowerment? Typically, traditional plant production methods are based on a mixture of blueprints, best practices, common knowledge of plant physiology, as well as the ‘green fingers’ and ‘emotional perception’ of growers. This approach has been successful, but also has several limitations.

How to effectively water by weight

How to effectively water by weight

How wet is ‘wet’, and how dry is ‘dry’? At the Green Industry Show in Edmonton last year, Dr. Will Healy, senior technical and research manager at Ball Horticultural Company, spoke about a method to describe soil wetness using Levels 1 through 5:

Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) recently launched new Philips GreenPower LED toplighting module in Canada, with light efficacy of up to 3.0 µmol/J and an output of 800 µmol/s.
Starter-plant supplier Emerald Coast Growers has released the latest version of its trend-tracking new variety Resource Guide.
A new weight-based watering system could help growers and retailers ensure uniformity of soil moisture across their hanging baskets.
Smithers-Oasis has recently launched a new retail pack of its Oasis® Horticubes growing media.
The California Spring Trials (CAST) were started by Glenn Goldsmith in 1967 which was for the purpose of educating growers of their breeding programs and their commitment to horticulture, and then other breeders started to join in the event to include almost every horticultural breeder distributor. The name evolved from the ‘California pack trials’ to now ‘California Spring Trials’ since the packs are a very small percentage of the industry.
Photographs can be beautiful, but nothing quite beats the rush of seeing new varieties in real life.
Similar to the All-America Selections Program in the United States, Quebec’s horticultural assessment program, Les Exceptionnelles (the Exceptionals) selects six to ten annual plants each year that have stood out for their performance and ease in growing in the assessment gardens in Canada’s northern climate.
Proven Winners has released its 2019 Trade Collection catalogue for Canadian growers in both print and digital formats. Growers can view the catalog online or request a printed copy from Nordic Nurseries in British Columbia or Ed Sobkowich Greenhouses in Ontario. 
Pre-made mixed planters have been gaining popularity over the past couple of years. But what makes an attractive mix? Researchers at the University of Guelph and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre saw an opportunity to gain a better understanding of consumer preferences for container plants.
With multiple plant breeders and tech suppliers, Windmill Nursery is a must-see stop on the CAST map.
For the first time in Danziger’s CAST history, their trial garden will feature an area exclusively for retailers. This private space will include new and exclusive varieties, as well as retail displays with full-grown individual plants and container combinations. Here are some highlights:
This year’s California Spring Trials are particularly special for Benary – it’s their 175th anniversary. Known for their fun, out-of-the-box activities during CAST, this year is no different. Here's a sample of the new varieties you can look forward to during your visit:
With so many other tasks requiring attention, modern greenhouses are beginning to integrate automated systems for crop moisture assessment.
What is plant empowerment? Typically, traditional plant production methods are based on a mixture of blueprints, best practices, common knowledge of plant physiology, as well as the ‘green fingers’ and ‘emotional perception’ of growers. This approach has been successful, but also has several limitations.
How wet is ‘wet’, and how dry is ‘dry’?At the Green Industry Show in Edmonton last year, Dr. Will Healy, senior technical and research manager at Ball Horticultural Company, spoke about a method to describe soil wetness using Levels 1 through 5:
What if someone told you that plant physiology and physics could change the way you think about greenhouse climate control?
The frigid temperatures that accompany a Canadian winter are hardly a surprise, but for a grower, the high energy costs associated with operating a greenhouse through the cold weather can be shocking. As the temperature drops, energy use climbs, and with temperatures falling well below freezing, heating a greenhouse to maintain an ideal crop environment can be an incredibly costly endeavor.
Winter months in the greenhouse are a good time to see where your operation could be more efficient to save on energy, especially heating bills. Now’s the time to check out what is and isn’t working and what you might like to change for next season.
In our October article, we discussed how we can optimize lighting conditions for plant growth, how to measure light, the optimum lighting requirements for various groups of plants and how to calculate the deficit. Now that we are familiar with lighting basics, let us look into the spectral composition of light.
Winner of the 2018 GreenTech Innovation Award, Visser Horti Systems’ AutoStix is an open source transplanting system. Not only does it automate the labour-intensive and often slow process of sticking cuttings, it uses biodegradable strips to keep things environmentally friendly.
Andrew Mans initially installed high pressure sodium (HPS) lights in the greenhouse, but quickly found that they had a high failure rate.
Starting a decade ago, researchers focused on the potential of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting for greenhouse horticultural crops, whether ornamental or vegetable. Usually, high pressure sodium lamps (HPS) are the most used in the greenhouse industry around the world.
In this article, we will focus on how to plan and execute a structured irrigation strategy, thus optimizing the rootzone, and consequently decreasing plant stress and potentially increasing yields.
With greenhouse strawberries becoming increasingly popular among consumers, how can supplemental lighting be used to help improve their production and potentially open avenues to other berry crops?
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of an URMULE (user requested minor use label expansion) registration for Milstop foliar fungicide for suppression of powdery mildew on field and greenhouse mint in Canada.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of URMULE (user requested minor use label expansion) registrations for Confine, Rampart and Phostrol Fungicides for suppression of downy mildew and pythium root rot on greenhouse-grown basil in Canada.
It has been four years since we last surveyed floriculture growers, and in that time, there have been some big changes in the way Canadian growers are using biocontrol.
Pythium species are fungal-like organisms (Oomycetes), commonly referred to as water molds, which naturally exist in soil and water as saprophytes, feeding on organic matter. Some Pythium species can cause serious diseases on greenhouse vegetable crops resulting in significant crop losses.
Horticultural crops in Canada, although grown on a smaller acreage than field crops, are of increasing importance to the agricultural economy. Greenhouse tomato production in Ontario contributes over $354 million annually, but insect and spider mite pests reduce the yield of the tomato crop and are the target of many management programs.
From October 4, 2017 to January 8, 2018, a research project was conducted at the Niagara College, Niagara-on-the-Lake greenhouse to evaluate the efficacy of Silamol, a silicon product designed to help reduce the negative impact of biotic and abiotic stress in plants.
As a grower, it’s important to think about ways in which your biocontrol programs can be strengthened. There is an increasing number of biopesticides and a staggering array of biostimulants available on the market.
There is increasing interest in Canada and globally in improving nutrient management in floricultural operations. Typically, this involves the constant delivery of lower levels of nutrients during the crop cycle, resulting in the production of plants with quality acceptable to both growers and consumers.
Greenhouse production in Canada is growing and evolving. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers have traditionally been the primary crops grown in Canadian vegetable greenhouses, while the floriculture sector has been producing a wide range of potted plants, bedding plants and cut flowers.
The human eye feeds 10 million bits per second to the brain, but when workers walk a greenhouse to check plants there’s only so much info they can take in, let alone absorb. Often, they’ll conduct spot checks and make decisions based on what they see.
Let’s face it, chemicals have been around for some time now, and have allowed us to successfully manage pests through each growing season. But it’s telling, that we still have to battle the same suite of pests and diseases in greenhouse crops, only now these are resistant to many of the chemicals that have been used against them.
Biologically based pest management technologies are being widely accepted because of their potential to beneficially exploit pest systems with little to no probability of harmful effects on human health and the environment.
The longer someone interacts with plant material, the more likely they are to spend money, says Dr. Bridget Behe, professor of horticulture at Michigan State University. But she’s not talking hours or minutes – they’re mere seconds.
Social media and user-generated content are playing a huge role in the way that businesses market their goods and services. This shouldn’t be any different for your garden centre.
Trialing new varieties can serve many purposes.Not only can they show off container and bedding performance in different climates, they can also be used to gauge public interest and identify emerging trends. This past year was no exception. The climate from June to August 2018 was warmer and drier than normal, but at the same time was plagued with random intense rain events that affected bloom performance for some of the annuals.
As garden centre owners and seasonal edible growers, our window to capitalize on sales is limited to just a few short months each year. But, it doesn’t have to be. With the proper products and a little marketing, you can triple your edible sales and increase repeat customer traffic throughout the year.
What could be better than savouring smoked lake trout in cracked mustard dressing at a table surrounded by row upon row of deep pink and warm orange gerberas? Add a lounge singer, a bar full of local drinks, enthusiastic company and flower crowns; you have a night to remember.
As 2019 becomes the new season, a number of garden trend reports have been released, advising garden retailers on what they need in their marketing strategies for the year. As you would expect, the millennial market is foremost in many people’s minds.
One word to sum up the ‘state of the industry’. Precarious? Bewildering? Exciting? Such a ‘review’ is, of course, a momentary snap-shot, and no doubt by the time this is in print, things may have changed. For now however, a number of critical issues for the greenhouse industry (veg, cut flowers, bedding, nursery, potted crops) came to mind. It was a long list, so I canvassed the thoughts of BC industry leaders to identify priorities.
In part I of this state-of-the-industry column, we looked at the most pressing critical issues affecting the greenhouse sector. The catastrophic effects of the ruptured gas pipeline in northern BC, continuing effects of the shift of the glasshouse landscape as it accommodates legal recreational cannabis production, labour availability, recruiting and costs, construction and planning bottlenecks, and the perennial topics of politics, globalization and international pests.
2018 was a year of expected – and unexpected – change. Labour and input costs continued to rise, carbon levies in the works, and the shortage of experienced labour continued. Cannabis and the renegotiation of the North American free trade agreement left large periods of uncertainty.
So, you own a greenhouse and things have been going well. You know you need more space to grow, but you are unsure of how to proceed. Do you expand the existing operation or do you sell and buy another?
Rapid innovation in machinery and computer technology have lowered barriers to entry within automation. New cutting-edge tools, from robots to artificial intelligence (AI), capable of executing complex tasks are increasingly available—and affordable. Of particular significance is that fundamental components of automation technologies are now easier to customize.
Have you ever sold more than you could supply? For most industries, overselling would result in unhappy customers and a lot of damage control. Fortunately, for those in the business of selling plants, that may just require a call to another grower to help fulfill those orders.
University of Windsor researchers have teamed with local produce growers to improve greenhouse energy efficiency and decrease operating costs.
Canadian greenhouses are expecting a harsh winter in terms of energy. Rates have been steadily rising for years, but the explosion of the Enbridge natural gas pipeline in British Columbia may be the final straw, as B.C. growers are now facing a shortage of up to 50 per cent during the coming winter months.
Is cogeneration the latest innovation for greenhouse growers or just a passing fad? It’s understandable why growers are assessing the potential.
With dark, short days in winter months, growing in Canada isn’t easy – even in controlled environments like greenhouses. To keep providing markets with high-quality produce, supplemental lighting is top of mind for many greenhouse vegetable producers.
It’s been over a decade since the first ‘Inside View’. So I thought I’d look back to the first heating and energy article. The sixth ‘View’ (Dec. 2007), noted that “Canada is the 3rd largest energy consumer on the planet – demand is up 21% since 1990”.
When it comes to adding energy curtains (sometimes referred to as thermal blankets) to a greenhouse everyone focuses on energy savings. And certainly energy savings should be a major factor in any greenhouse grower’s decision to purchase energy curtains.
June 17, 2017, Mona, UT – In recognition of leading energy saving efforts, Houweling’s Group was among four companies honored recently as part of Utah’s Energy Efficiency Challenge.
March 16, 2017, Simcoe, Ont. – With the Ontario government’s cap and trade program now in effect, many greenhouse growers in the province are quickly discovering the high cost of fighting climate change. To some, that cost appears unsustainably high.
March April 2017 – Spring is a time of hope and renewed energy with longer days of sunshine and warmer weather. It is also a great time to reflect on how energy costs in the past months have impacted your bottom line, and to work with your team to make your greenhouse more cost-effective for the year to come.
March 10, 2017, Guelph, Ont. – Ontario farmers can finally expect some relief with lower electricity bills on the way.
Nov. 25, 2016, Guelph, Ont. – Affordable energy is a serious issue in Ontario. Rural Ontario is the hardest hit by energy inflation with most businesses, residents and farms relying on electricity, propane or heating oil to support their way of life.
Nov. 7, 2016, Guelph, Ont. – The need for natural gas across rural Ontario is a top priority for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and rural municipalities.
Looking at these photos, do you know what happened to these cucumber and tomato plants? Growers were expecting a compact and strong plant, but within a short span of a few days, the plants were already touching the wire, internodes were unusually elongated, and weak sets of leaves developed, looking thin, misshapen and not fully expanded. The first cluster of tomatoes appeared five feet on the stem.
This is the first time in 12 years that I have been called to see if any growers have poinsettias for sale. I had to look hard to find some that fit the requirements. It was great that production quantities were matching, or were slightly under sales.
Each year, a few vegetables are entered into the University of Guelph’s Vineland container trials as candidates for vegetables in small urban spaces. This edible plant category attracted attention at the trials, not only from the public, but from culinary professionals as well. Here are some of the highlights from this past season.
Now that recreational marijuana is legal across Canada, the need for product has increased sharply. Based on corporate statements, the 10 largest cannabis producers in the country are planning to churn out 1.8 million kilograms worth of the plant by 2020.
Vineland has been identifying methods and creating new technologies to help tree propagators grow seedlings with better root quality.
Dalotia coriara, is a native species of soil-dwelling rove beetles. They are light to dark brown in colour; adults are three to four millimetres long and are slender with short wing covers. An adult female lays 90 eggs in its average life span of 50 days.
As everyone in Canada is aware by now, recreational cannabis has become legal. But the full effects of legalization on the Canadian greenhouse flower and vegetable industry remains to be seen.
Easter lily production has declined in the last few years but it is still one of the top five potted crops in terms of sales. 10 million Easter lily bulbs were shipped this past season. In my opinion, the major drop in sales is due to the extra cost of production with minimal increase in selling price.
Heuchera from tissue culture (TC) are not difficult to establish if certain protocols are followed. The critical factor to understand is that these have been grown in a lab under high humidity and low light. Lower humidity and higher light levels must be avoided until the TC has been acclimated.
In Greenhouse Canada’s August “New Varieties” edition, experts from garden centres reported that eco-friendly plants are a trend that’s here to stay, especially for the newer generation of gardeners. Topping the list for these millennial gardeners are plants that are considered “pollinator-friendly”.
February tends to be a slow time at Roelands Plant Farms Inc.The greenhouse vegetable propagator in Lambton Shores, ON, has usually shipped the last of its orders for the year’s tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers to clients throughout North America, and its busy season winds down.
When the legal industry began to emerge, indoor cannabis grow facilities were considered ideal for optimal growing because of the ability to control the environment entirely. However, the industry is seeing a steady decline in cannabis prices so it’s becoming increasingly expensive to operate an indoor grow facility. As such, more and more growers are turning to greenhouse structures for their cannabis grow operation.

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