Among the many reasons why Gene Ingratta, President of Allegro Acres, has been named Greenhouse Canada’s Grower of the Year is the way he controls the temperature and humidity inside his greenhouses. This aspect is especially important during these times of unpredictable and intense weather. “Allegro started using a high-pressure fogging system by MJ-Tech in their LED glass range since August 2021,” Gene explains. “We were so impressed by the results that we decided to install it in our double poly greenhouse as well.”
Allegro Acres was one of the first Canadian greenhouse operations to start producing winter peppers under LED technology, and the MJ-Tech high-pressure fogging system was a big benefit to that, he says.
Owner/operator of Allegro Acres Gene Ingratta with Freddy Sarkis (Heading MJ-Tech North America Inc.) and the MJ-Tech MPU-36 High Pressure Fogging pump unit
Complexity of growing
Gene continues to explain that “Greenhouse humidity plays a vital role in plant and root health. On certain days, with the MJ-Tech system, we’re able to raise our relative humidity by about 25%, which in turn lowers our greenhouse temperature by about 4 degrees Celsius. This helps to avoid root pressure and keeps transpiration at an optimal level, so the plants don’t shut down and start using their reserve energy.”
For instance, with this system, during the sunny, dry months of May and June, Gene can increase the humidity and bring the vents down without increasing the greenhouse temperature. “By doing this, we can keep higher CO2 levels in the crop, which increases our rate of photosynthesis,” he remarks.
Even in a more challenging double poly greenhouse, a good location for the nozzle lines can be found
During the hot summer months, irrigation temperature starts to rise, which can lead to root issues. Gene comments, “By keeping the air temperature cooler, this also keeps our leach water temperature cooler and provides more oxygen to the roots system. Healthy roots are an important piece in keeping pathogens like pythium and fusarium away.”
More than just humidity control
Hot and dry conditions are also breeding grounds for pests. Gene notes, “Another added benefit to controlling temp and humidity is the mitigation of pests and diseases. Bad bugs thrive in dry conditions, whereas the good bugs start to suffer. By keeping the humidity in control, it keeps our biological program in balance and also limits the spread of pathogens like powdery mildew, thus lowering our overall crop input costs.”
Pepper sizing starts to decrease when summer temperatures start to rise. Gene comments, “With the MJ-Tech system keeping our greenhouse temperatures cooler than normal during the summer months, we’ve noticed our quality and average fruit weight during august and September has been the best we’ve ever had.”
Allegro Acres, the first Canadian glass greenhouse producing winter peppers under LED technology, with the benefit of MJ-Tech high-pressure fogging.
Jurnjan van den Bremer from MJ-Tech has followed Gene’s developments very closely. “Throughout the first year of using our high-pressure fogging system, Gene has constantly come back to us with new insights and user experiences,” he says. “He told us how the roots of his plants got healthier, and leaves got bigger. This ensures that the crop has more balanced transpiration and more photosynthesis, which grants a top-quality yield at the end of the season. He surely is a data geek,” Jurnjan chuckles. “But above all, he has been a great source of inspiration, providing invaluable insights on how our high-pressure fogging system benefits CEA cultivation beyond the mere controlling the humidity. Considering the future the horticulture industry is heading to, high-pressure fogging systems will become an instrumental part of the cultivation strategy of every grower. And with that, we want to be close to them and have now our own MJ-Tech North America Inc. facilities with our own stock & service support stand-by in Leamington.”