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California Berry Cultivars is a World-Class “Strawberry Start-Up”

Agra Tech Solar Light 30 x 60' long with Benches, a Roof Vent for natural ventilation, Fan & Pad cooling, Heating, and Energy Saving Shade Curtains.

Agra Tech Solar Light 30 x 60′ long with Benches, a Roof Vent for natural ventilation, Fan & Pad cooling, Heating, and Energy Saving Shade Curtains.

To develop the strawberries of the future with all of the attributes that a strawberry lover covets–such as sugar content, juiciness and that perfect texture–California Berry Cultivars (CBC) in Oxnard, CA is using cutting-edge technology to create amazing strawberries. And that’s why they recently purchased a 1,800 square foot Solar Light greenhouse from Agra Tech, commercial greenhouse manufacturer. CBC has been using this greenhouse since mid-2016 to achieve their pursuit of the ultimate strawberry.image010

CBC’s Project Leader Kyle VandenLangenberg, 32, has a PhD in Horticulture and his role in the company is to successfully complete its mission of developing and releasing new varieties (or cultivars) for strawberry growers through the process of plant breeding. This involves crossing unique things together to create unique combinations. By testing literally thousands of different types of strawberries produced from dozens of different cross combinations and whittling the number down to less than a handful, VandenLangenberg is able to find the best-of-the-best while discarding the rest, he explained.

“We’re taking a ‘shotgun’ approach in order to find that one type of strawberry that will possess all of the qualities we’re looking for,” VandenLangenberg said. “We run these large numbers in order to find a strawberry plant that is hopefully superior over the previous ones and that is why we’re using this Agra Tech greenhouse. It’s an environment that is very conducive to growing mother plants and monitoring pollen production as well as germinating the seeds we produce in order to grow seedlings. Strawberry plants are extremely delicate, especially when they’re very young, so we need a sophisticated structure like this greenhouse to do all of our work the right way.”

When the strawberry plants are babies (less than a 1/2 centimeter wide), they’re called “germinates” and extremely sensitive to the temperature, humidity, and moisture content of the growing medium they’re in. This is a very crucial time in their lives and that’s why CBC needs a greenhouse that can protect them during this stage.image005

“We need complete environmental control and when you lose that, things can really go wrong,” VandenLangenberg said. “You can get disease outbreaks, slow growth or growth that is too rapid and time is everything when it comes to strawberries. We have to germinate on a specific day and we need to see a certain amount of growth by the time we take them out of the greenhouse and plant them in the ground. It’s a balancing act all the time in this business.

You can’t afford to cut corners or make a mistake when you’re trying to create the greatest and latest strawberries of the world, VandenLangenberg said.  “Strawberries are a crop where the errors of the past will haunt you in the future and that’s why this greenhouse is such an important part of what we’re doing here. If the early steps that we take in the greenhouse are done incorrectly we will pay down the road, so we have to get it right the first time if we’re going to succeed. Because the development time for new cultivars is between 6 to 10 years, mistakes earlier on could really set us back. So, creating an environment that we can completely control and rely on is a must.”

CBC’s busy schedule will keep their Agra Tech greenhouse busy 10 months out of the year. The company’s cross-breeding is performed in the winter months, followed by a rolling seed collection process through the spring. After a quick clean and turn-around they switch gears and begin germinating in July and grow their transplants for the next two months. CBC will produce roughly 100,000-plus seeds and thousands of transplants every year, according to VandenLangenberg.

Working with Agra Tech to get a greenhouse that would fit their needs, specifically, was a huge step, VandenLangenberg explained. “We realized early on in the process that we needed a top-end greenhouse and that’s what we have. We’re a small startup company so value was a major factor and we looked at a wide range of options before selecting Agra Tech. Kira Construction built the greenhouse based on Agra Tech’s recommendations and it was completed right on time.”

In order to set themselves up for a bright future, VandenLangenberg and his team worked closely with their Agra Tech’s sales engineer Jim Bergantz. “We started the conversation with Agra Tech back in 2015 and were immediately impressed by Jim Bergantz for his knowledge about the industry. We sat down and put together a plan that had everything we needed. The service that Jim provided was great and he really worked with us to get it done. There are two departments within the greenhouse, separated by a custom designed inner-wall, allowing us to run two separate environments exactly the way we want it.”

Now that CBC’s Agra Tech greenhouse is up and running VandenLangenberg is confident that he made the right decision by going with Agra Tech, he said. “There’s a bunch of plants in there right now and they’re doing well, so yes–I am happy about our decision to go with Agra Tech and we hope to work with them more in the future as our business grows.”

Article by Edmund Attanasio

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Agra Tech Solar Light 30′ x 60′

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Completed greenhouse showing screen boxes over the exhaust fans

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Construction meeting

Dave Wilson Nursery Builds Large Greenhouse Manufactured by Agra Tech, Inc.

dave-wilson-02 Solar Light 48 headhouse

To increase its capacity for growing rootstock, as well as extend the growing season, Dave Wilson Nursery Inc. is working with Agra Tech, Inc. to design and build a standalone 150,000 sq. ft. greenhouse facility with a wide range of cutting-edge features throughout. For the commercial side of Dave Wilson Nursery, this addition is part of a two-stage expansion plan, with another 75,000-sq. ft. addition anticipated to take place sometime next year.

Mike Farris, Greenhouse Manager at Dave Wilson Nursery Inc., has overseen this construction project and is confident in its successful completion as well as its tremendous benefit to DWN’s production process. The greenhouse expansion was designed and manufactured by Agra Tech, Inc. of Pittsburg, CA and assembled by Ag-Con Construction of San Jose, CA.

“This expansion will facilitate the increased production of almond trees on hybrid rootstock for our commercial market,” Farris said, “which is the driving force behind this recent expansion.”

The expansion not only provides for increased production but does so with great efficiency and labor saving,” Farris said. Phase one’s capacity is 2 million plant starts. Phase two equals that capacity or it will hold 257,000 finished stock in 100mm x 200mm Elle Pots ©.”

Dave Wilson Progress

Ag Con foreman working with the customer

Integrated into this greenhouse expansion are a wide range of additional features. According to Farris, these include Agra Tech’s line of mobile trays, under-bench heating, Cherry Creek’s traveling water booms and a secondary overhead heating system, all controlled with a Hortamax control system. The addition of insect screen will facilitate improved plant health and vigor.

Ray Pound is the owner of Ag-Con Construction, a company that has built literally hundreds of greenhouses over the years. Large greenhouse operations call upon Pound frequently to get their greenhouses built on deadline and without complications, because Ag-Con knows how to build even the most complex greenhouses.

Pound has worked on a series of small projects with Dave Wilson Nursery in the past and that’s why he is pleased to be involved in the company’s big project. “The people at Dave Wilson Nursery are great to work with, so when I first found out about this project, we were really excited,” Ray Pound said. “This greenhouse is state-of-the-art throughout and David Wilson Nursery is going to be doing some amazing things in this greenhouse with almond trees. It is going to play an important role within the company, so getting it up-and-running by December is huge.”

With a crew of 11 working day and night to reach the greenhouse’s deadline, Pound is fast tracking everything to make the December date. “I have an excellent crew and by working with Mike Farris, we are really stepping up on this job,” Ray Pound said. “This is a dream project, because it is innovative in many ways and Mike Farris is great to work with. I was involved in several aspects of the greenhouse’s design and offered advice during the planning stage. This is a step into the big-time with all of the companies that worked on this greenhouse, so we’re anxious to be able to see it in action. The design stages on this project started in July of 2015 and on December 1st, we will be up-and-running with this greenhouse and all of its features.”

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Ag Con Construction crew at work on the Shade Curtain

Dave Wilson Nursery grows trees for commercial orchards as well as for home garden centers nationwide, offering a complete line of deciduous fruit, nut and shade trees for the home garden trade. Established by Dave Wilson in 1938 on a tiny parcel of land that he rented near Modesto, California, Dave Wilson Nursery has established a great track record for being one of the largest growers of deciduous fruit, nut and shade trees in the entire country. By changing with the times and embracing the newest technology available, Dave Wilson Nursery has grown exponentially over the past 78 years. Tom Spellman, the company’s southwestern U.S sales manager, has an office in Upland, CA.

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View from headhouse into the Solar Light 42 greenhouses

With 11 years of experience managing greenhouses, Farris knows the ins and outs of designing and building growing structures of all types and that’s why he is happy to be working with a company like Agra Tech. “We have worked with Agra Tech and Ag-Con previously, so we’re very comfortable with both companies and know we’ll be getting some of the best service available,” Farris explained. “In fact, Agra Tech has built all of the greenhouses we have here currently, except for the original one that was built back in the 1940s. Working with the Pound family and Jim Bergantz our ATI rep, not to mention all of the amazing folks in their office–it is great to be working with some of the finest and smartest people in the industry today.”

Article by Edmund Attanasio

Solar Light 48 Headhouse

Solar Light 48 Headhouse

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Solar Light 42 nearly completed

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

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by Ed Attanasio