Category Archives: Transplant Houses

Micro Paradox Acquires Greenhouse System Designed and Installed by ATI

Randhawa Ventures getting started

Always on the cutting-edge of the commercial greenhouse industry, Agra Tech of Pittsburg, CA and Micro Paradox of Pleasant Grove, CA worked in close conjunction to create a commercial greenhouse system that is unique and unprecedented.

Micro Paradox provides high-quality clonal rootstock to orchard owners and nursery growers, consisting of clonal rootstocks for walnuts, cherries, pistachios and almonds. In addition to providing rootstock, the company can also do custom projects by providing customers with specific types of clonal rootstalks.

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Dr. Parm Randhawa

With over 20 years of experience in the seed health industry through CSP Labs, Micro Paradox was founded by Dr. Parm Randhawa in 2010 to provide high superior rootstock to growers worldwide. In addition, he is also the founder and owner of California Seed and Plant Lab, Inc. (CSP Labs), a company that performs seed health testing for the vegetable seed industry. The company was incorporated in 1998 and expanded its services to include seed germination, seed purity, disease diagnosis, resistance screening, hybrid purity, variety fingerprinting and Non-GMO testing.

CSP Labs is located on-site in a separate facility from Micro Paradox but located on the same property. “This close proximity enables us to conduct high quality testing of our products,” Randhawa said. “It’s convenient and useful, because it saves us time and allows us to work without interruption.”

A clonal rootstock is a vegetatively propagated (cloned) rootstock. Rather than using germinated seedling rootstock, nursery owners and growers can carefully select a clonal rootstock of their choice. This clonal rootstock, in turn, can be “budded” to a variety of the grower’s choice, according to www.microparadox.com.

Clonal rootstocks from Micro Paradox are superior over seedling rootstocks, because the latter suffer from genetic variability in that one seedling is different from the other seedling and their perforwalnutProductmance is unreliable. An orchard produced from seedlings may not be productive as some seedlings may lead to inferior trees, Randhawa explained.

“Clonal plants from high-quality trees are genetically alike and therefore perform similar to such characters as vigor, uniformity, budding compatibility, disease resistance and yield,” rootstockPicRandhawa said. “Clones are generally well studied and their characteristics documented by multi-year research before their release to the growers. For example, our walnut clone VX 211 is resistant to nematodes and this resistance lasts for the life time of the tree planted in soils containing nematodes.”

Micro Paradox is well-known for producing some of the best clonal rootstocks in the world. “Several companies can clone walnuts but a very few are good at it,” Parm said. “We are good at it and our reputation lies in “trees with good roots”. Our trees have roots that are at 45 degree from stem, multiple and air pruned to provide an edge when planted in a nursery row or in the orchard.”

“Our process is simple to produce high quality trees,” Randhawa said. “By establishing a contamination-free clone in tissue culture in the lab and increasing cloning in the lab to generate large number of very healthy cuttings, we then root them in the laboratory to a well-rooted plug. Once we’ve established the plug to a well-rooted plant in the greenhouse, we let it grow to a specific size. Then, it’s ready for sale.”

Randhawa was already familiar with Agra Tech, because they had acquired several commercial greenhouses from the company for CSP Labs, but this project for Micro Paradox was a completely different project with different specs and a lot of design required. “This was a truly groundbreaking project and we knew that a lot of the work would have to be custom,” Randhawa said. “By working closely with all of the people at Agra Tech, including John Pound, Ray Pound and Anita Pound and our sales rep, Jim Bergantz, we were able to get this greenhouse and all of its systems up and running by February of this year.”

2015-08 Randhawa 21By designing and building an Agra Tech  Sawtooth framework greenhouse featuring seven separate rooms for different stages of growing, it includes 7 energy curtain systems; connecting doors to each chamber; heating and cooling systems. It also includes a mobile tray system with six transfer carts and a complete railing system to move the trays throughout the entire greenhouse; a Biotherm under bench heating system: a True Leaf Fog system in each of the seven rooms and seven separate center water drip water brooms. It’s a huge project, but after it was completely designed, it took less than six months to make it 100% operable.

Everyone at Micro Paradox is thrilled by the results of their new system and relieved that it went so well. “The customer service provided by Agra Tech has always been exceptional and on this project they really did a spectacular job,” Parm said. “They did their research and came up with solutions that were designed specifically for us. We asked them a ton of questions and they answered all of them promptly and accurately.

“The greenhouse was built by Ag-Con and Ray Pound made it a seamless process, he said. “Every time we needed something–they were right there. It took about six months to get everything up-and-running and today we’re happy to say that our greenhouse is half full already. When we reach our goals, it will be more like three quarters full, which will be full capacity, because, of course, we will always have root stalks being shipped out to our customers.”

Randhawa AgCon Construction

Ag-con Construction

Ed

by Ed Attanasio

 

 

California Transplants Helps Farmers to Get a Growing Start

Plants are accessed through drop down sidewalls and loaded onto carts.California Transplants in Newman, CA was established in 1997 when Ted Woods, a grower with more than three decades of experience in the vegetable transplant industry started his business. Today the farm operates under approximately 1.9 million square feet of plastic. The plastic we’re referring sits atop the 274 greenhouses that California Transplants uses and maintains on their 100-acre farm.

Transfer cart travels between houses and is filled from both sides.

Transfer cart travels between houses and is filled from both sides.

Benches partly emptied through drop down sidewalls.

Benches partly emptied through drop down sidewalls.

Benches full ready for off loading

Benches full ready for off loading

“Tomatoes grown for processing purposes make up 95% of our business and the other items we grow such as fresh market tomatoes and broccoli fill in some of the gaps,” Woods said. “These fill-in crops will change based on our customers’ needs.” In the past, California Transplants has grown things such as peppers, cauliflower, melons, cabbage and many other specialty crops over the years.

The business model at California Transplants is all about expediency, quality and convenience. “The farmer brings us the seeds and we germinate them, grow the plants and ship it to him,” Woods said. “We get the orders well in advance and then we fill them, so we never grow anything unless our farmers want it. We have eight salesmen that cover the state and our crew varies based on volume and the time of year. We’re in an ideal location, because of our dry and arid site above the valley fog. And due to our central location, we’re able to deliver our transplants to the field with little turnaround time.”

By closely monitoring the seeding, germination and transplanting of all its plants, California Transplants produces hearty seedlings that grow into healthy crops. By maintaining a clean, carefully controlled growing Woods and his crew are able to give its customers a disease-free start plants to their growing season.

“Fresh market” tomatoes are tomato transplants that are grown by California’s customers that are farmers primarily in California to ultimately be sold in grocery stores statewide. “Processing” tomatoes are also transplants, but in the end they go to canneries to end up as tomato paste, sauce diced tomatoes and ketchup, to adorn hamburgers and French Fries worldwide.

After working for other growers for almost 20 years, Woods decided to make the leap to owning his own operation, when a group of investors approached him. “They asked me to start my own business and my contract had just expired with my former employer, so I said yes and put it all together. It’s been a very successful endeavor and I enjoy it. As long as I want to keep doing it, I have no plans to retire. I don’t really know what I would do if I was retired, because I’ve been doing this for so long.”

Ted’s son Mark worked for his father for many years until he came one day he went to his dad and told him that he had what you might call “growing plans.” “Mark worked for me and helped me to set up California Transplants and then it was time for him to move on and get his own thing started (Woods Transplants) and that has been great.”

Woods started working with Agra Tech when he founded California Transplants and “It has worked out well for all of us and it’s a great relationship,” he said. “Of the 274 greenhouses we have, all but 19 of them are from Agra Tech. Jim Bergantz, our rep from Agra Tech sells them to us; John Pound advises us: Anita Pound helps to engineer the structures and Ray Pound’s company Ag-Con in San Jose, CA does all of the construction. The people at Agra Tech are easy to work with and every time we’ve gone to them with requests, design modifications and things like that—they’re always willing to make it happen for us.”

By Ed Attanasio

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