Ted Berkel welcomed us at his greenhouse. Berkel Greenhouse Inc. cultivates bell peppers and beafsteak tomatoes at their greenhouse site which consists of two separate houses ; one Venlo structure and one poly greenhouse structure. The two houses are connected with a corridor greenhouse that has a function as a packing hall, technical room and water technical site.
In this 6 acre Venlo structure, Berkel grows beafsteak tomatoes on a high gutters. The greenhouse was newly built in 2002, before this period they were growing in an older structure that originated from the 70's. The gutters are installed up side down compared to the gutters that are installed nowadays. According to Berkel, it was a last minute decision to bring them in. The structure is high, which resulted in a better yield and crop, Berkel said. Also the longer rows improved labour efficiency. The greenhouse is equipped with a single cloth to save energy.
Berkel grows the variety Growdena: a Syngenta beafsteak variety that is known for it's uniform fruit growth of 220-240g. Growdena is extremely consistent throughout the season. It's a variety with vigorous growth and good foliage during the summer. Despite the fact that the crop requires less labour as a result of relatively few unwanted shoots, Berkel experienced many problems with Botrytus. He spent a lot of time and labour on deleafing and ripping trusses of to prevent botrytus, as well as removing the leaves to decrease disease pressure.
The crop is grown on Forteco Profit coir slabs. The youngplants were propagated on Cultilene High Retention blocks.
Berkel shared his experience with Mardenkro coatings. Two years ago he applied Redufuse on the roof. He was satisfied with the results, and decided to leave it on the glass. Despite the advice of Mardenkro to remove the Redufuse first, Berkel applied Reduheat the year after; without removing the Redufuse. He is now experiencing some problems with removing the combination of the two coatings, but he seemed to be confident by saying that 'it wasn't affecting his crop too much'.
This is the 2 acre pepper greenhouse in which Berkel grows several colours of Bell peppers like Enza Zaden yellow pepper Bentley, Enza Zaden's red pepper Healy. De Ruiter's red pepper Moraine and the orange pepper DRO719PB of De Ruiter.
Also the bell peppers are grown on the combination of coco slabs and stonewool propagation blocks.
Also in this structure, BErkel is growing on gutters, but in this side they are installed very low, as his greenhouse is also very low. Berkel trimmed the leafs in order to create more air movement inside the house to achieve a more active crop. .
The greenhouse is too low for pepper cultivation, but Berkel said he tried to make the best of it as far as is goes. Raising the structure is an option. The greenhouse has no energy curtain or shading installed.
Natural gas is burned to heat the greenhouse. Berkel has two boilers to heat the greenhouses, and a third one is used as a back-up. The maximum pipe temperature is 70 degrees Celsius. There is no liquid CO2 used.
Berkel uses water soluble fertilizers.
Berkel's harvest is marketed to wholesalers and local markets via Koorneef produce.
As of two years ago, Berkel is the proud owner of this sorting Greefa sorting machine. The good unique thing about it is that it can be used for both peppers and tomatoes.
If you would like to join the Bus Tour next year as well, please contact the Canadian Greenhouse Conference at : www.CanadianGreenhouseConference.com or send your requests to Glenna Cairnie (e-mail).
In February 2015, our own HortiDaily High Tech Greenhouse Tour : Click here to obtain more information about this free bus tour.