Benjamin Franklin is quoted saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” When considering this quote for the commercial greenhouse operation, it should come as no surprise that preparing for the next growing season is an important task as it sets the tone for the entire season. Starting off on the wrong root will cause problems to arise and a rocky start to the season for both operator and plants. Any issue no matter how small it may seem, has the potential to create enough problems to cause growth delays and poor overall quality of the crop. The good news is that an operation has the ability to create an excellent growing environment each growing season through a few simple steps. Concentration for the operation should be on cleaning, sanitation, restocking, and maintenance.
Creating a Squeaky Clean Environment
In between growing seasons or cycles, an operation should conduct a full deep clean of the growing area and all equipment. By performing a deep clean, the operation is able to start off fresh and on a new page regardless of the prior season. Deep cleaning allows the space to be cleaned of pathogens and pests that may linger in between the growing cycles. These pests and pathogens are at the ready waiting for their next victims. Early in the growth stages of crops, young plants are very vulnerable and are less likely to recover fully from an attack. There is a definite difference between cleaning and sanitation of a growing area.
Cleaning the growing area includes the removal of plant material and debris through extracting old pots and plants, sweeping benches and floors, as well as changing filters and dusting surfaces. By removing the plant debris and left behind grow media, a grower is eliminating the risk of direct transfer of pests to the new media and plant material for the new growing season. Sanitizing is the next crucial step in preparing the growing area, as it eliminates the risk of microscopic pathogens like fungi and bacteria from hitching rides on new material. Disinfecting all surfaces and thoroughly washing surfaces with approved disinfectant will leave an area ready for the next generation of plant material. Cleaning removes the dirt and debris, while sanitation finishes the job with making sure that everything is clean down to the microscopic level- beyond what a person can see.
Maintenance of Equipment and the General Growing Area
The environment of a greenhouse is once envied by the outside plants, as it is the perfect haven for plant life. With moisture, light, humidity, and a comfy temperature plant life can flourish. However, this place of comfort for a plant can wreak havoc on equipment and tools used in the greenhouse. The high amounts of grow lighting, temperatures, and amounts of water can cause eventual damage to surfaces and equipment. A grower at the end of each growing season, needs to inspect and make necessary adjustments and repairs to equipment. By inspecting the equipment and tools before the growing season starts, the operator eliminates the potential of being left high and dry in the middle of a growing season when conditions need to be maintained at accurate quantities.
In order to ensure that issues do not arise for the operation, proper maintenance and repairs need to be conducted before each growing season or cycle. Checking water lines, pumps, sprayers, HVAC, flooring, and the greenhouse structure are essential in making sure that operations run smoothly. By taking the proactive approach to maintenance, a grower can rest assured that breaks and delays due to faulty equipment can be minimized or all together reduced.
Preparing in between crops can seem like quite the stressful venture, however, with proper planning and preparation the switch from one season to the next can be like a breath of fresh air. RF Agriculture has the products and services to assist all commercial and industrial grow operations in planning, installation, maintenance, and repair that allows the grower to not stress over the ‘small stuff’. Be sure to reach out to one of the many staff members that are ready to assist in helping to prepare for a growing season no matter it is the first or the thousandth. With decades of combined experience in the field, RF Agriculture is ready to assist in all commercial greenhouse ventures great and small.
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