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Visits to Aphria, Mucci, Anna's Flowers and Harrow:

Canada: CGC Bus Tour provides glimpse into the future of horticulture

From the latest research updates on supplemental lighting and biocontrol to advanced high wire cucumber production and even a peek into medical marijuana cultivation; participants of yesterday's Canadian Greenhouse Conference bus tour were offered a very broad selection of inspirational visits that sparked up some chatter. 

This year's grower tour took place in the Leamington area. With more than 2,500 of 3,000 acres of Ontario greenhouses being located in Essex county, the region is famous for the vibrant greenhouse industry that is subject to a lot of development and innovation. 

The bus tour participants started their day at the Harrow Research and Development Centre. With more than 1 hectare of research greenhouse space, Harrow is one of the largest research facilities in North America dedicated to greenhouse and processing crops.

Harrow scientists toured the group around, kicking off by providing a glimpse of the all new seven meter tall diffused greenhouse structure that is currently under construction. The new research greenhouse, which will have diffused glass installed, is expected to be operational by the end of this year. 

Harrow researchers shared updates on several running studies, most of them related to the relation between entomology, biocontrols and greenhouse technology. The researchers are for example looking at the impact on insects and pathogens by new technology such as LED. 

Next stop was Mucci Farms, where Bert Mucci and his head grower Guy Tettiero welcomed us for a tour at their latest high wire cucumber expansion. 

Mucci Farms has invested heavily in high tech packing machines and robotics to automate a lot of the labor at this site. At the packing hall we could see four robots that were selecting mini cucumbers at high speed. With the current labor shortages and the announced rise of the minimum wage, the investments will enable the grower to stay ahead of the curve and be more competitive.

Inside the new greenhouses, Guy Tettiero gave some insight into the choice of variety, substrate and cultivation strategies. Mucci cultivates according to the high wire method, which enables them to grow two crops per year that deliver a very good fruit quality. 

Following a short stop at Anna's Flowers, participants could see what opportunities there are in the garden center space. By combining a broad offer of ornamental plants with a carefully selected amount of inspirational home decoration and locally grown produce, Anna's Flowers offers a unique year round garden center shopping experience for their local community. 

And then it was the highest time for the last but definitely not the least visit of the day; Aphria. The former CF Flowers greenhouse has been transformed into one of North America's medical marijuana front runners and the bus tour participants had the privilege to see what it takes to operate such a large scale and advanced marijuana greenhouse. 

Aphria has seen significant investments and expansions over the last couple of years and the company aims to become one of the leaders in the field of high quality, low cost medical marijuana. They are currently building phase 3 and 4 expansions and are about to hit the 1,000,000 square feet mark when up and running in 2018. 

Participants were toured around the entire production and got to see the substrate production, the irrigation and fertigation facilities, the production greenhouses and processing areas. Unfortunately no pictures could be taken, but please stay tuned for more coverage on this visit. 

Today, we are busy reporting the Canadian Greenhouse Conference. Please stop by our booth to get your free copy of our 2016-2017 HortiDaily Greenhouse Guide or catch up with our editor to make it into our infamous photo report!
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