Category Archives: Insect Exclusion

The Finest Orchids in the World are Grown in Agra Tech Greenhouses

 

Richard Munoz, Operations Manager for McLellan/Tiasuco America

Richard Munoz, Operations Manager for McLellan/Tiasuco America

By using commercial greenhouses made by Agra Tech, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of greenhouses, McLellan/Tiasuco America grows incredible orchids completely indoor. In 2000, Rod McLellan’s botanical division was purchased by the Taiwan Sugar Company (Taisuco) one of the largest orchid growers on the planet. The purchase gave Taisuco a more prominent position in North America when it bought this long-standing family farm with two large growing operations in California and Texas.

McLellan/Orchid in Agra Tech greenhouseTiasuco America’s main nursery is located in Aromas, CA, in the agriculturally rich Pajaro Valley. Most of its orchids are sold to flower stores and farmer’s markets and also operates a retail store operating in the San Francisco Flower Mart.

By exchanging research, development and resources with its counterparts, McLellan/Tiasuco America has earned a worldwide reputation for growing high-quality orchid species and innovative varieties that are grown, selected, packaged and shipped to its customers around the country. While growing unique, award-winning orchids in its greenhouses for year-round delivery, the company also grows Taisuco’s spiral eucalyptus varieties in its surrounding fields, which are harvested and shipped throughout the world year-round.orchid-slideshow-2

Richard Munoz is the company’s operations manager, which means he supervises a staff of more than 100 people and manages the nursery in Aromas, CA. Munoz, 57, enjoys his job, because the technology is rapidly changing and each day provides new challenges, he said. “The driving force in this industry is the technology and it has changed considerably within the last 10 years. We’ve been adapting to the new innovations as they emerge, because we want to use all of the newest tools and systems out there, if possible, to grow the finest and healthiest orchids in the world.”

McLellan/Tiasuco America cultivates hardy varieties that can stand up to the challenges of retail distribution and a broad range of home environments. “The seedlings are shipped here from Tiasuco in Taiwan, so they’re going to be on a ship for 18-20 days,” Munoz said. “When we get them, some of them are distressed, so we have techniques we’ve developed to get them healthy again.”

oncidiumThe orchid varieties offered by the company range from the most popular: Phalaenopsis, Oncidium and Miltonia to the exotic: Paphiopedilum, Cattleyas and other seasonal varieties. “We get new varieties from Taiwan every year, maybe 3-4 annually,” Munoz explained. “We have the classic whites and various shades of pinks, yellows and oranges and striped or spotted patterns in all colors, probably more than a dozen in all.”

Between the two farms, McLellan/Tiasuco America grows 1.3 million orchids annually with year round availability. The standard pot sizes include 3”, 4” and 6” with a variety of flower sizes from mini to large and customers can buy them either fully bloomed or in the bud stage, based on their preferences and/or requirements.phalaenopsis

Munoz has been working closely with Adam Pound, his sales rep at Agra Tech, Inc. for several years now and greatly values the relationship for several reasons, he said. “Agra Tech has been building greenhouses with a long time and Adam is a great source of knowledge for us. He is always looking for new great solutions for us to grow better orchids and each one has worked well. In Aromas, we have a total of 230,000 square feet of greenhouses that we purchased from Agra Tech and they always work tremendously well.”paphiopedilum

Munoz loves the control that the Agra Tech greenhouses provide for McLellan/Tiasuco America. “We can grow the orchids more quickly and turn them faster,” he said. “We’re in the process of making everything computerized and right now Adam has helped us to changeover 70% of our systems. Eventually, we’ll be 100% computer-controlled, because we’re constantly upgrading and trying to be better. That’s why we’re so happy to be working with Agra Tech, because we get access to both their products and their expertise.”

Article by Edmund Attanasio

Additional Notes: The greenhouses were built in the 80’s and feature one of Agra Tech’s first Positive Pressure installations which is still providing insect exclusion and outstanding cooling even after 30 years. The customer stated that he gets a 5 to 7 degree temperature differential over 300’, unheard of in negative pressure greenhouses.

Munoz also told us that his maintenance cost for the Agra Tech greenhouses are almost nothing compared the other greenhouses on site.  1403394593000-00

AB Ludvig Svennson’s Climate Screens Give Greenhouse Growers More Control

12 proBy working with one of the world’s leading manufacturers of textile climate and environmental solutions, Agra Tech , Inc. of Pittsburg, CA is able to provide its clients with the ability to control their greenhouse growing applications, regardless of where they’re located or what they’re growing. A fourth generation family business run by siblings Anne and Anders Ludvigson, AB Ludvig Svennson (LS) provides a wide range of Climate Screens that are used to control the climates in greenhouses all over the world.

With headquarters in Kinna, Sweden and with daughter companies located in China, Holland, South Korea and the United States, LS makes energy fabrics that achieve the entire gamut of climate control, including reflecting the sun, blacking it out and diffusing its light evenly, just to name a few. By refining and further developing its Climate Screens over the years, LS has been able to provide more efficient shading properties, greater energy savings and thereby creating a more favorable growing climate for greenhouse growers.

Mauricio Manotas is the President of LS in the U.S. He has been spearheading his company’s operations in North America since the company came to this country in 1996. Manotas has been able to see the Climate Screens industry change rapidly as the technology has progressed. “It’s exciting to be working with some of the country’s leading greenhouse growers at LS,” Mantas said. “On the East Coast, there is more vegetable production and in the West, we’re selling more Climate Screens to companies that are doing research and development and growing flowers, for example. Our products allow our customers to control every aspect of the climate in their greenhouse and that’s why they can guarantee quality crops year round.”

LS features five different Climate Screens. Each has its own distinct purpose, depending on what you’re growing and where you’re located. To suit different growing conditions, the company’s Climate Screens come in more than 100 different variants. They are divided into five families according to their main features, which makes the selection process easier and more accurate.

The main five types of Climate Screens made by LS are

Harmony: Scatters sunlight evenly

Luxous: Provides maximum daylight

Obscura: Total blackout

Solara: Highly reflective/open for ventilation

Tempa: Uses aluminum strips to maximize energy savings

Manotas has been working with Agra Tech, Inc. since day one and appreciates the relationship. “We’ve developed a great relationship with John and Eloise Pound at Agra Tech and I know they were working with LS long before I came onboard. We’re a family business too, so ATI has a special place in our hearts. We’ve worked with them on a lot of projects over the years and we really respect their knowledge and experience. They’re a valuable distributor of our products and we’re proud to be working with them.”

LS just doesn’t sell its Climate Screens—they also bring a ton of their expertise to the table as well, according to Manota. LS and Manota are adept at working with greenhouse growers of all sizes—from 100-200 square feet all the way to enormous 40-acre greenhouses.

“Everything is custom made, so we work project-to-project. Each scenario is completely different, so you can’t ever take a ‘one size fits’ all approach,” he explained. “We analyze every scenario carefully and then we advise our customers about what they require. In many cases, the grower doesn’t know what they need, so we weigh all of the factors—the geography, the kinds of crops to grow and the type of greenhouse they’re using. We study their operation and look at it objectively. That way we come up with a blueprint in the form of a 6-7 page document that makes recommendations and offers them what we feel in an ideal solution. There is competition in this business, so we use our knowledge and experience to differentiate us from the rest. We want all of our ‘climate partners’ to maximize their yield and get the best crops they can, so that’s what we do in each situation. By setting our customers up for success, we hope that they will work for us on an ongoing basis, as they grow and experience continuing success.”

AgraTech Helps Willits & Newcomb, Inc. to Keep the Bugs Out

Citrus in Screen house

Citrus growing in screen covered Agra Tech greenhouse

When a large citrus nursery discovered that the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) had been sighted in southern California and was coming their way, they needed help and they needed it right now. An aphid-like insect, the ACP will destroy every citrus tree it encounters and there is no way to stop it, so the nursery called Agra Tech, one of the world’s leading commercial greenhouse manufacturers, located in Pittsburg, CA. They also worked with Ag-Con, a greenhouse construction company located in San Jose, CA. The professionals at Agra Tech and Ag-Con possess more than 300 years of combined experience, designing and building controlled environment structures.

Located on 190 acres at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, Willits & Newcomb, Inc. (W&N) is a full-service wholesale citrus nursery serving commercial growers and retail nurseries in California, Arizona and Nevada. The nursery grows a full range of citrus products, including ball-and-burlap trees, retail nursery trees, as well as citrus propagation materials including seed, budwood and seedlings. W & N citrus trees can be found in Costco’s each spring season.

Willits & Newcomb

Willits and Newcomb

W&N has grown and today the nursery produces 350,000 citrus trees and climbing. W&N’s citrus propagating materials are shipped to nursery people and researchers in over 110 nations worldwide. The company expanded into selling trees into the retail markets beginning in 1992 and continues to grow fabulous trees for that market.

W&N’s General Manager Gary Moles has been in the nursery business more than three decades, so he knew that the discovery of the ACP could potentially be the demise of W&N. “We knew we had to start going 100% indoors, in order to get full protection from the ACP and we needed a system we could rely on,” he said. “Thankfully, we called upon Agra Tech, because they knew what to do. The first part was the design and then the construction of what we call a head house. It’s the Cadillac of protection, using positive pressure. It pushes out the insects instead of sucking them out. If there is a breech in the head house, there is enough air pushing out to not let them in.”

Other modifications devised by Agra Tech have made life a lot easier for W&N, Moles explained. “We now dispense air more evenly and have cut down the noise of the system, which is better for our employees. We can have up to 40 people working in the head house, re-planting, shipping trees and doing their daily work, so we want it to be as comfortable as we can for our people. We also wanted to make sure that there is enough ventilation in the head house, so that everyone can work there.”

Willits Newcomb Connector House

Willits Newcomb Connector House with covered breezeways allow passage between houses while keeping the pests out.

Moles credits both Agra Tech and Ag-Con for the head house’s success. “We have a great relationship with both companies,” he said. “Between the two of them, they designed and built this head house (also called an insect exclusion structure) for us and it took a lot of work to get it done. It’s a one of a kind head house and a working area for our people. It connects three of our greenhouses and is completely climate-controlled, so that we can store the heat in the wintertime and vent out the heat in the summer. We were looking for a viable and affordable solution and Agra Tech, in conjunction with Ag-Con hit a home run.”

Moles wants to keep working with Agra Tech and Ag-Con, because he values their expertise and out-of-the-box thinking, he said. “We are now looking for other projects to do with Agra Tech and Ag-Con. We’re going to upgrade two of our existing greenhouses to make them climate controlled. We bought them ten years ago, so it’s time. We’ve been blessed to work with these two companies, because they’re attentive, available and are all about finding answers for us. We’re confident that the bugs will stay out if and when they do arrive, because Agra Tech and Ag-Con are helping us to achieve it.”

Willits and Newcomb Insulator Greenhouses

Willits and Newcomb Insulator Greenhouses

Jim Bergantz, sales engineer at Agra Tech loves helping companies like W&N, he said. “I really enjoy helping customers by working together with Agra Tech’s technical team to create the best possible solution! Working closely with John, Eloise and Anita Pound at Agra Tech is amazing. Then out in the field, with a customer like W&N I take their knowledge and collaborate with John’s brother Ray Pound of Ag-Con on-site at the customer’s location. It’s incredible to be a part of this all-star team and when you see what we create and build for our customers, it makes me smile widely and with great pride!