Greenhouse Management

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Greenhouse Management

The efficiency and productivity of a greenhouse is through managing it right. Also, the initial and long term costs of the facility are affected by the type of materials used. Ridge and furrow houses provide the greatest efficiency in crop production. Aluminum is the most durable and commonly used framing material for commercial greenhouse structures. Double sheets of polyethylene film is the most economical covering material available for Texas producers.

Greenhouse heating requirements

Heating is a major concern to commercial greenhouse producers. This is due primarily to the costs involved in the purchase and operation of heating equipment as well as the potentially disastrous effects of a poorly designed system. Although solar energy represents a significant factor in greenhouse heating, supplemental systems are a necessity for year round production.

Growing media

The production of greenhouse crops involves a number of cultural inputs. Among these, perhaps the most important is the type of growing medium used. Due to the relatively shallow depth and limited volume of a container, growing media must be amended to provide the appropriate physical and chemical properties necessary for plant growth.

Field soils are generally unsatisfactory for the production of plants in containers. This is primarily because soils do not provide the aeration, drainage and water holding capacity required. To improve this situation several "soilless" growing media have been developed. The following is a description of some of the most commonly used amendments for the production of greenhouse crops.

Fertilizing greenhouse crops

Maintaining adequate nutrition is among the most critical aspects of producing greenhouse crops. At present most growers utilize a liquid feed program as their primary means of supplying plant nutrients. This program may also be supplemented with granular or slow release fertilizers added to the growing medium.

The frequency of fertilizer applications also influences plant growth. In some cases it is important to supply nutrients at peak  of vegetative or reproductive growth. However, it is generally accepted that a constant feed (soluble fertilizer at each irrigation) is the best system to optimize plant growth.

A constant feed program may also be modified so that nutrients are applied at every other irrigation. This approach may be necessary under conditions of high soluble salts.

The balance of plant nutrients is important in producing vigorous, efficient plants. In some cases when nutrients are out of balance severe deficiencies or toxicities may occur. Therefore it is important to consider both the source an amount of fertilizer used.

Air, Water and Media... Putting them all together.

The relationship between growing medium, air, and water is one of the least understood aspects in the production of greenhouse and nursery crops. As a result, a significant amount of plant loss may be related either directly or indirectly to an improper match between these cultural elements. A basic understanding of the factors that mediate this relationship can be valuable in developing sound management practices.

Maintaining the right environment in the greenhouse involves a range of factors: watering, ventilation, shading, heating, and good hygiene. Getting this right is important. If plants have too little water, then they become stressed and are more prone to pests and diseases. If they have too much, then they are liable to attack by a variety of fungal diseases. Managing your greenhouse well is the best way to be successful.

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