Category Archives: Accessories

Hayes Wholesale Nurseries in New Zealand Uses Agra Tech’s Agra Benches

bench 003With customers worldwide, Agra Tech in Pittsburg, CA has greenhouses and ancillary products in countries all over the world and in this case, New Zealand is the setting for this story. Hayes Wholesale Nurseries is the New Zealand’s largest wholesale growers and suppliers of Pac geraniums, fuchsias and Pac Pelargoniums and sells to local garden centers as well as national chains throughout the country.

Based in Makarewa, a small community north of Invercargill (the southernmost city in the South Island of New Zealand), Hayes Wholesale Nurseries is owned and operated by Barry Hayes. He has the industry in his blood, because he learned how to be a nurseryman first hand in his parents’ garden center starting as a teenager back in the 1980s. He is now a veteran of the greenhouse growing industry with 30 years under his belt, and he wouldn’t change the life for anything else, he explained.

“Helping things to grow and creating a quality product is satisfying,” Hayes said. “We are specialist producers and the biggest growers of geraniums and fuchsias in New Zealand. All of the flowers we produce here are the best in New Zealand and people know that, so they look for our products in their garden centers and retail locations.”

Growing 300,000 flowers annually is a huge operation and that’s why Hayes needs three 1,000 square meter greenhouses (although they do call them “glasshouses” in New Zealand) and three separate propagating houses. The nursery grows flowers year round, but 80% of them are sold during their peak season, which runs from August through January, Hayes explained, with the busiest months being August and September.

The nursery employs five full-time people and comes with a complete menagerie of animals as well. “We have two exotic cats here, my Bichon-Maltese-cross dog, Poodles, and right now I am also taking care of a friend’s English bulldog. They’re our very own visitor welcoming committee.”

All of the plants grown at Hayes Wholesale Nursery are produced from cuttings. To meet the demand, they import cuttings from Germany every year. Once they arrive, the imported cuttings are kept in the nursery’s quarantine facility for three to four months until Ministry of Primary Industries’ inspectors give them the thumbs up. At that point, the cuttings are re-potted until they become well-established and then they’re shipped out to customers.

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Agra Tech Ebb and FLow Bench

Back in 2007, Hayes started purchasing rolling benches from Agra Tech, as part of their Agra Bench line of Mobil Trays, Rolling Benches, Stationary Benches, Ebb & Flow Benches, Caster Benches and T-Rail Benches. The nursery was interested in Agra Tech’s benches for their convenience and saw instantly that they could help their production.

“We use their Rolling Benches, because they make our lives here so much easier,” Hayes said. “By using these benches, we can grow more plants per square meter. Also, these types of plants require ongoing maintenance, which means we need a way to easily access each plant on a regular basis. The Rolling Benches enable our workers to do their jobs without spending a lot of time moving plants around.”

Hayes also uses Agra Tech’s Ebb & Flow Benches for several reasons. “We flood the trays with water and fertilizer and that way we’re able to reclaim all of it,” he said. “It cuts down on the cost of water and fertilizer, because the excess drains off and we re-use them. So, by using these benches, we’re able to be a greener operation while saving a substantial amount of time, water and money.”

Over the years of working with Agra Tech, Hayes has developed a solid relationship with the company. “Eloise and John Pound, the owners of Agra Tech have been here at least two times, looking at our operation and helping us to find good solutions. The Pound family has a ton of experience in this industry and their knowledge is invaluable to anyone growing crops in a glasshouse. We’ve received three large shipments of Agra Tech’s Benches and as we continue to grow, I am sure we will likely need more.”

Written by Ed Attanasio

Visit with Hayes Ebb & Flow bench

John Pound Visits Hayes Wholesale Nursery in New Zealand

Agra Tech and Ridder/HortiMaX North America Nurture Growing Relationship

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By aligning itself with top companies worldwide, Agra Tech, Inc. is able to be on the cutting edge of every aspect of the commercial greenhouse farming industry and offering its customers world-class solutions. One of these beneficial relationships is with Ridder/HortiMaX North America, a global company with local offices in Ontario, California, Wisconsin and North Carolina. By incorporating products and systems manufactured by Ridder/HortiMaX North America into greenhouses made by Agra Tech in Pittsburg, CA, it is an alliance that benefits both parties, as well as greenhouse growers and ultimately consumers.

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Ron Daemen is the President of Ridder/HortiMaX North America and pleased to be working with Agra Tech. By strategically looking at new products and systems and other ancillary products all the time, this international company with offices in seven countries, has already become a major player in the United States.

Ridder/HortiMax North America is always looking to support greenhouse growers worldwide to achieve better results through best fit growing technology together with their partners in the industry, including Agra Tech.

Daemen explained the business relationship his company has with Agra Tech, Inc., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial greenhouses. “Agra Tech is a reseller of our products and systems and for that reason they know us very well. With their knowledge and experience and our wide range of solutions for their customers all over the country, we work well together.”

The products and solutions that Ridder/HortiMax North America offers fit into three categories: Climate & Energy, Water & Nutrition and Labor & Productivity. By utilizing a strategic combination of these, the company can devise a solution for any greenhouse grower. Recently, Ridder/HortiMax North America also jumped into the climate screens industry, to add yet another product to its impressive lineup.

Ridder/HortiMax North America has been involved in several major greenhouse projects in the U.S., including Gotham Greens, a company that designs, builds and operates commercial scale greenhouse facilities in urban areas for fresh vegetable production. Since commencing production in early 2011, Gotham Greens has quickly become a worldwide pioneer in the field of urban agriculture and one of New York State’s leading producers of premium-quality, greenhouse-grown vegetables and herbs.

Ridder/HortiMaX North America is currently focusing on several U.S. greenhouse growing categories, Daemen explained. “Right now our customers are growing vegetables and marijuana in states where it’s legal and once more and more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana that market will grow. We also want to get more ornamental flower growers as customers, because we see significant future growth in that area. Whenever we decide to go after a certain market, we first have to determine its size and how our products can best serve it.”

Agra Tech and Ridder/HortiMax North America forged an alliance officially four years ago. “We started working with John Pound and his team at Agra Tech back in 2011,” Daemen said. “But they actually began purchasing Ridder products back in the 1990s. I expect our relationship with Agra Tech will continue to flourish, because they are a strong company with an impressive track record. We both value customer service and that is important to any business relationship, because in the end we want to serve our customers and the industry. Here at Ridder/HortiMax, we believe in treating the customer how we would want to be treated, and I know that the Pound family does too.”

It’s a two-fold mutually beneficial alliance, because Agra Tech brings valuable leads to Ridder/HortiMax North America and vice versa, according to Daemen. “With our products and systems and Agra Tech’s knowledge and skills, we can provide a great combination of viable solutions for any greenhouse operation—large or small and regardless of what they’re growing.”

What does Daemen think about the future of commercial greenhouse growing in North America and worldwide? “It looks exceedingly positive. Consumers are demanding better quality and healthier food. Today’s greenhouse technology will help growers to deliver on these demands. At Ridder-HortiMaX, we’re always doing research and development to come up with better products and solutions, so that we can best serve our partners and customers all over the planet.”

 

Seeds and Transplants Help Keithly-Williams to Grow

Thermolator 35 transplant house

Keithly-Williams new Agra Tech Thermolator 35 transplant houses

Keithly-Williams has been one of the world’s leading growers of vegetable and fruit seeds for nearly three decades and is known for providing high-quality seeds to farmers worldwide. Through its highly-trained and knowledgeable sales force, Keithly-Williams has been making its customers happy since 1981, led by Kelly Keithly, age 70, who has been in the seed-growing industry for nearly half a century and has seen it evolve at a rapid rate. Keithly started back in 1970 as a seed salesman and today he runs a large operation that grows seeds and also grows transplants for farmers throughout the country.

29 years ago, Keithly-Williams Seeds was founded in response to one very significant need for a wide variety of quality vegetable seed products, according to Kelly Keithly. “We realized that it’s much easier for farmers to buy seeds as opposed to growing their own for a lot of reasons. For a farmer to grow seeds, he has to commit to that part of the business—they can’t do both. Plus, our seeds are of the highest quality anywhere. We’re constantly looking for the best seeds that will produce the best crops, so we’re continually testing different hybrid varieties; in order to see if they will flourish out in the field. Our clients value that knowledge and our experience and that’s why we’ve been successful producing quality, healthy seeds for so many years.”

Seven years ago, the company began taking its seeds and growing them into transplants for re-sale to farmers. To achieve this, Keithly-Williams began purchasing greenhouses to produce the transplants and rather quickly this nursery became an integral part of the company. With its state-of –the-art nursery facility in Holtville, CA (two hours East from San Diego, CA) Keithly-Williams grows a wide range of quality vegetable transplants for growers in its region, with a list that goes from artichokes all the way seedless watermelons and anything else you can imagine in between.

Thermolator 35 with drop walls

Thermolator 35 x 8′ eave height with drop down walls

Nursery Manager Paul Chambers has seen the company’s transplants division grow and today he oversees 40 greenhouses, 16 of which were purchased from Agra Tech, Inc. in Pittsburg, CA. Agra Tech designs and manufactures commercial greenhouses and accessories as well as distributing a wide range of equipment for commercial, horticultural, and agricultural growers, retail nurseries, research and education facilities.

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Agra Tech’s Jim Bergantz

Most recently, Chambers worked closely with Agra Tech and its representative Jim Bergantz to coordinate the acquisition of the 16 greenhouses. Kira Construction assembled and built the greenhouses and the entire process from start to finish took only six months, Chambers said. “Agra Tech and Kira Construction helped us to make this process as seamless as it could possibly be. Agra Tech has been doing this for a very long time and we’ve definitely benefitted from their experience and expertise. Jim came here several times, which is quite a drive and every time we talked to him he was giving us great ideas—real solutions. The greenhouses are up and running and doing exactly what we expect them to do—producing transplants that are healthy and ready for the field.”

Many farmers prefer transplants over seeds for a plethora of reasons, Chambers explained. “If a farmer plants a seed, they are a lot of intangibles, because you can’t be precise and plant uniformity can often be compromised. Plus, when you water crops in the field, you have to water the entire field, which obviously wastes a ton of water. Using our techniques, each transplant gets just the water it needs. For instance, in just one of our one-acre greenhouses, we can grow the equivalent of 80 acres of seedless watermelon transplants. So, you can easily see that there is a huge savings in water right there.”

Also, in-ground growers can be confident that the transplants they get from Keithly-Williams are disease-free. “All of our transplants never touch the ground, because we grow them on benches. We keep our growing environment clean and we’re able to control all of the factors (heat, no insects, humidity, etc.) and that means our transplants are going to grow up to be strong and vibrant.”

By taking these baby plants and helping them as they enter adolescence, Chambers takes on the responsibility of raising all the company’s fledgling plants carefully and with the utmost care. “In essence, they are indeed babies and for the first two months of their lives, we’re taking care of them. They go from being in a small plug to being in a big field and we make sure that they’re going to make it to our markets and eventually onto our tables.”

Article by Edmund Attanasio

Drop walls on Thermolator 35 transplant house

Drop sidewalls on Thermolator 35 transplant house allow maximum ventilation and access through the sidewalls