As a result of the moderate, but continuous growth of the Canadian greenhouse acreage, a new vegetable young plant propagation greenhouse was opened last year near the shores of Lake Huron; Roelands Plant Farms. The greenhouse, a state-of-art 2 hectare Venlo built by Havecon, is in full operation since October 2013. According to production manager Arie Alblas, Roelands Plant Farms had a promising first season and many growers found their way to them to source their young cucumber, tomato and pepper plants. "In the height of the season it was sometimes challenging to keep up with the demand".Roelands Plant Farms Inc.
Roelands Plant Farms Inc., was founded by Adrian and Jodi Roelands. Both their roots are in the Canadian greenhouse industry working in several glasshouse operations. Since the Canadian greenhouse industry is always developing and lifting itself to a higher level, Adrian Roelands noticed that growers increasingly demanded more and better quality young plants. The Roelands invested in a 40 hectare premises on which they built a 2 hectare propagation facility. Striving for ideal growing conditions, the greenhouse is a glass Venlo design with 7 meters under the gutters, ebb and flood concrete floors, grow lights in the entire growing space, and energy/shade curtains, amongst other things.
Jodi Roelands, Arie Alblas and Adrian Roelands during the construction of the greenhouse in July 2013.
Increasing demand for quality
"Every year the Canadian greenhouse acreage is expanding by approximately 10 percent. Hence there is a demand for more young plants, and the growers are increasingly demanding better quality plants," said Arie Alblas of Roelands Plant. Alblas has an extensive career in horticulture and 24 years of experience in the propagation business, of which 12 years in The Netherlands and 12 years in Canada. Thanks to his network, many Canadian growers found their way to Roelands last year.
"Since our greenhouse structures arise near Lake Huron, growers started to order their plants," Alblas said. "Already in the first year we have received many orders, especially for cucumber plants."
Production Manager Arie Alblas
According to Alblas, the acreage with cucumbers around Ontario is not expanding significantly, but the amounts of cultivation rounds per grower is increasing. "Growers are now planting 3 or 4 crops per year in order to grow more efficiently and to sustain high quality throughout the entire season."
Cucumbers are one of the main crops that Roeland's is propagating. During the winter months, from November till early February, their greenhouse is full with peppers and (grafted) tomatoes. "We decided to strictly propagate only vegetable crops due to phytosanitairy reasons," said Alblas. "It is tempting to use the greenhouse for ornamentals during the months that you have less work in the field of vegetable propagation, but we decided not too do so. We really want to keep the greenhouse clean and free of pests and diseases, you never know what you bring inside with small cutting."
Phytosanitary aspects are also one of the reasons that Roelands Plant is located not amidst of the concentrated greenhouse area of Leamington or Kingsville. "We decided to build miles away from that area, to be far away from the pests and diseases that can occur in that region. With our plants, the growers are sure that they start the new season with a clean crop." As well as this the climate at Lake Huron proves to be very efficient for the propagation greenhouse. "The location of the greenhouse is very beneficial for us as the wind over our greenhouse is always coming from the lake. This cools the greenhouse during harsh summer conditions."
The first year
Despite being in full operation for not even a year, Roelands Plant Farms already experienced some troubles to keep up with the demand, and an expansion already seems a logical next step. "There were some weeks in the winter season that we already didn't have enough space available to fulfil our customers demand," Alblas said. "Currently we do not have expansion plans, but you never know what the future may bring. The demand for plants is here, that's a sure thing."
Currently Roelands Plant Farms is also trialling with lettuce cultivation. "In the past, many greenhouse vegetable propagators entered the ornamental industry during their quiet months," Alblas explained. "But due to phytosanitary aspects we are not encouraged to do this. Hence we are now trialling growing lettuce and marketing it directly in the chain. Lettuce is a clean product, it's a short crop and we do not give pest and diseases a chance to enter our environment. The trials are still in it's infancy."
Growers welcome to place orders
Despite having a full greenhouse during the winter months, Arie Albas ensured that new orders are always welcome. "We have plenty of experience with propagating quality young plants according to the highest standards. Right now we still have space available for cucumber propagation, so please do not hesitate to contact us!"
For more information: Roelands Plant Farms Inc.
5894 Douglas Line
Lambton Shores, ON