Stuppy Greenhouse Blog

High Tunnel Winter Lettuce

Posted by Phil Bishop on Aug 30, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Ultra-Niche Crops are defined as exceptionally high-value crops that can provide a significant source of income to the farmer while using minimal land area.

Winter lettuce is a crop that is seeded or transplanted in a high tunnel or other protected structure after the traditional planting season. Winter lettuce planting takes place from late summer through the fall, and lettuce is harvested during the cooler months. Many types of lettuce are suitable for winter production in high tunnels, including Butterhead, Romaine, and baby leaf types. It is important to understand the growth needs of a winter lettuce crop, such as temperature requirements, and soil moisture. Producing winter lettuce in high tunnels provides a lower-input option to traditional heated greenhouse production. Growing winter lettuce in a high tunnel is a way to extend the season and increase revenue while maintaining your customer base through the winter months.

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Topics: greenhouse

What exactly does Stuppy do?

Posted by Phil Bishop on Aug 23, 2017 3:38:33 PM

It is easy to get lost in the details of how a greenhouse functions or troubleshooting an equipment failure. Helping customers on specific projects is the day to day but the overall function of Stuppy is wider and deeper. In short we design, manufacture and construct greenhouses and growing systems, but this leaves out how and why.

It’s ironic, schools and commercial growers come to us to get questions answered and intern get asked more questions than they had for us. This really is the fundamental approach we take. We make sure to understand what is needing to be done i.e. new greenhouse, renovation etc. but deeper than this is understanding why the greenhouse project is being completed. This is accomplished by asking a lot of questions. These questions and the answers are what we base our greenhouse design around. Our goal is to produce a greenhouse that functions exactly as you had envisioned and need it to perform.

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Topics: greenhouse

How to Buy a Greenhouse

Posted by Phil Bishop on Jun 21, 2017 2:30:00 PM

It may take longer but for your business it is the way to go. The way is a partnership, with a company that will work through your project with you. Some may say this takes out the competition between manufacturers in turn raising the price automatically. In reality the competition is up front, before the greenhouse that your business will rely on is the chess piece between manufacturers. The price of the greenhouse doesn’t go down in bid situations, the offering is simply reduced. Vetting companies and partnering with one you trust leads to a well thought out and designed greenhouse. In the typical greenhouse bid situation we've seen time and time again where bids come back that aren't comparable. This is due to several reasons i.e. each company has different ways of doing things, in bids price is a huge deciding factor so changes are made to the bid to reduce cost etc. This creates confusion for the buyer. The bids may be ok but deciphering the differences and coming to the conclusion of which one is right for the business is difficult.

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Topics: greenhouse

What Size of Greenhouse Do You Need?

Posted by Phil Bishop on May 11, 2017 3:25:38 PM

You need to know what you will be growing. Your market will help if not decide what you will or can grow. It can be done but it’s tough to persuade a market into buying a product they haven’t been looking for. I mention this a lot throughout several blog post and it’s because it is the foundation of the greenhouse design.

The size of the greenhouse is based on several things. The first is volume of product you need to grow. How much product do you need to produce for the business to grow and succeed? Within this there are more specific attributes about the plants that factor into the greenhouse size. The size of the plants need to be taken into account. This is done by knowing how many can be grown per square foot. Let’s take lettuce for example. On average a finished head of lettuce needs 1 square foot when ready for harvest. Taking the amount of lettuce that needs to be grown for the business to make money we can start to get an idea of the area needed.

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Topics: greenhouse

Intro to Greenhouse Environmental Control Staging

Posted by Phil Bishop on May 5, 2017 3:51:55 PM

Let’s assume the example greenhouse is a gutter connected, 2 bay greenhouse, 30’x96’ each, 60’x96’ total, with taller sidewalls, 10’-12’, just to give a frame of reference. Pun wasn’t intended but it works. The location is in the Midwest, let’s say…Indianapolis. It gets hot in the winter, cold in the summer. 

The springs and falls are mild but can swing from cold to hot in an instant.

Cooling and heating are operated in stages in this greenhouse. The purpose is to keep a consistent temperature for the plants. The cooling and heating must be sized correctly in order to defend against max temperatures, lowest of the lows and highest of the highs. Sizing will be explained in upcoming posts. For now let’s say they are sized correctly for Indianapolis, that has a -15°F to 110°F yearly temperature spread.

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Topics: greenhouse

Choosing Greenhouse Ventilation

Posted by Phil Bishop on May 1, 2017 3:14:46 PM

In a greenhouse, ventilation is tied with light and irrigation as the most important aspects of growing plants. Strictly talking about plant requirements, ventilation drives gas exchanges in the greenhouse, plant respiration and temperatures. In its basic form, ventilation is the process of moving air from outside to inside and from inside to outside the greenhouse.

Example: Apex Greenhouses (made up) is building a new greenhouse. They will be growing lettuce and using NFT. Apex is located in Oklahoma City. The greenhouse they are buying is a freestanding, 8’ sidewall, 30’ x 96’ structure. At this point the only thing defined is the structure size, a double layer poly film roof and the layout of the growing system. The growing system is laid out with a single 4’ walk way down the middle, 12’ NFT channels going from the walkway on either side to the sidewall, setting a foot from the sidewall. At one end is the harvesting location, 12’ x 30’ and at the other end is the planting area, 12’ x 30’. The actual growing space is 30’ x 72’. To work out the ventilation we need input from Apex as to how they want to ventilate, climate information and the growing needs of the plants.

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Topics: greenhouse

Assess Your Options for Growth

Posted by Phil Bishop on Apr 25, 2017 3:57:07 PM

It is important to evaluate whether you want to consolidate your business' position or find ways to grow.

If you decide that your priority is growth then you need to plan carefully if you are to succeed. Growth has its risks, but the right strategy can deliver stability, security and long-term profits. Once you've assessed the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business and how well it's equipped to handle them, you can move on to the next stage - building a strategy for growth.

This guide shows you how to evaluate the right strategy for your business, when to launch it and what finance options suit which businesses. It looks at the pros and cons of diversifying and what other considerations you must think of to ensure development is smooth, on time and on target.

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Topics: greenhouse

Are You a Business Person, Engineer or Grower?

Posted by Phil Bishop on Aug 12, 2016 11:16:59 AM

 

 

When it comes to running a commercial greenhouse, I have found that there are three general categories people fall into. These are not character defining traits or leadership defining but simply a frame of reference for decision making. Even within these three types the lines blur, because in order to run a successful greenhouse all are critical and each owner, manager or supervisor will make decisions involving every topic. This post is less about defining yourself and more about being self-aware of your strengths. If you know what your strengths are you can supplement your weaknesses by adding other people to your team that are strong in the differing categories. By doing this your management team will be well rounded as a whole. As you read through think about where your strengths lie.

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Topics: greenhouse growing, greenhouse market, greenhouse, greenhouse project, greenhouse specs

A Deeper Look at Finding Your Market

Posted by Phil Bishop on Jul 11, 2016 12:46:21 PM

Knowing your market or outlet, for the produce you will be growing and selling to, is as important as your growing facility. Who and where are your customers? Understanding your market points you in the right direction of narrowing down your greenhouse location. This is covered in our initial and the 3rd post, in this series. Highlights being market size, who the buyers are and planning for the future.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into why you need to understand your market.

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Topics: greenhouse business, starting a greenhouse business, greenhouse market, commercial greenhouse, greenhouse, new greenhouse, vegetable greenhouse

Does Your Greenhouse Location Matter and How do You Pick One?

Posted by Phil Bishop on Jun 29, 2016 3:42:48 PM

I had originally titled this post in our series, Commercial Vegetable Greenhouse: Starting from Square One, “Land,” boring I know but to the point. After thinking about who our customers are and where growers are wanting to build their greenhouses, I changed it to the title “Growing Location”.  Yes, another blockbuster title.

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Topics: civil engineering, greenhouse land, building time frames, building codes for greenhouse, greenhouse erection, building codes, city codes, greenhouse, new greenhouse, construction, site design

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