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Lower cost automated rain shelter introduced

Growers of high-value field and orchard crops like cherries, seedless table grapes, kiwi fruit, apples, berries, and flowering crops have always loved the idea of automatic retractable roofs to protect their crops against the impact of extreme weather. “However, they’ve frequently found available models to be cost prohibitive,” says Richard Vollebregt with Cravo Equipment. In response to grower requests, the company is now introducing Auto-Dry™, a lower-cost solution that combines a conventional rain shelter and Cravo retractable roof technology. It provides large-scale protection over field and orchard crops from profit-crippling frost, rain, dew, hail, wind, and heat.

Reduced investment
This revolutionary design has resulted in more than a 50 percent reduction in the cost per hectare compared to other retractable roof models that provide protection from rain. Auto-Dry is suitable for crops that are typically grown outside but need occasional protection from extreme weather events. The other more expensive models of retractable roof houses are designed for higher-value crops that need more climate protection for longer periods of time or need to withstand higher wind or snow loads.

Target higher market prices
“The climate manipulation possibilities that Auto-Dry can create allow growers to achieve a faster ROI by targeting the higher price windows by advancing or delaying their harvest,” said Vollebregt. “It is now also easier to meet or exceed a buyer’s increasing demands for first quality fruit with lower chemical residues.” Retracting the coverings when outdoor conditions allow helps increase brix, firmness, and dry matter while preventing foliar disease by releasing excessive heat and humidity. At the same time, closing the coverings during strong winds, rain, dew, and hail can prevent blemishes and foliar disease.

Cost savings
With automated control over humidity levels inside, growers can now easily ensure that fruit is large and firm while helping to minimize foliar disease pressure, which in turn reduces the costs to purchase and apply chemical fungicides.

With businesses struggling with a shortage of labor and labor that is less skilled and more expensive, the automated system eliminates labor required to move roofs, can reduce the number of spray applications, and helps create better work environments for workers during plant management and harvest.

In some regions, it can take a long time to receive permission to build a code-compliant permanent greenhouse. In locations where shade structures and tunnels are considered non-code and temporary, this new system potentially avoids local government regulations as it can be installed on augers to avoid classification as a permanent building. The Auto-Dry system could be operated off the grid as power could be supplied by solar panels or by a generator since it uses less than 3 kWh of electricity per day per hectare.

Return on investment
Auto-Dry will be of particular interest to growers who can profit from shifting their production to hit the high price windows. Financial models have already been generated with prospective customers that indicate a 1–4-year return on investment is possible by increasing yield and quality and targeting the gaps in the production windows.

IFPA’s Global Show
Interested in discussing the new Auto-Dry system or any of Cravo’s other products? The team looks forward to meeting up at booth #3005 at IFPA’s Global Produce & Floral Show in Anaheim, California, this week.

This brochure and short video provide more information on the lower-cost system.

For more information:
Richard Vollebregt
Cravo Equipment Ltd
Tel.: +(1) 519 759 8226 x 215
[email protected]