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Production and training issues facing CEA growers

Trying to produce vegetables in hot, humid conditions can be difficult for controlled environment growers whether growing in a greenhouse or a warehouse.

“The challenges of greenhouse growing in Ohio and the Midwest are different than the challenges faced by growers in Arizona,” said Ohio State University horticulture professor Chieri Kubota. Kubota, who joined the faculty at Ohio State this past June will continue the controlled environment agriculture research she was doing while at the University of Arizona.

“Some people think I’m an expert at dealing with heat stress because I was doing my research in an Arizona greenhouse,” she said. “But in Arizona growers don’t really have to worry about the heat inside a greenhouse if they are using an evaporative cooling system to lower the temperature. In Arizona the outside temperature can be 110ºF, but the temperature in the greenhouse can be lowered to 75ºF-80ºF (25ºC-27ºC) as long as the air is dry enough and water is available. In Arizona the dryness can be a challenge, causing tip burn on sensitive crops such as lettuce and strawberry.

“I really didn’t have to deal with heat stress much in Arizona. But there are other parts of the country like the Midwest and East Coast that have to deal with hot, humid summer conditions and very cold winters. I would like to work on those issues and develop technologies, including climate control strategies that can mitigate the issues of growing crops year-round. In Ohio and the Midwest summer heat stress is a major issue for crops causing all kinds of physiological disorders including incomplete pollination and fruit ripening disorders. During the winter, heating and humidity can also be an issue. There is also an issue with low light levels so supplemental lighting is more important.”

Read more at Urban Ag News (David Kuack)

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