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Cover Produce & Agra Tech Have a Relationship Spanning Four Decades

AgraTech Solar Light Cover Produce (5)

A multi-generation, family-run operation that grows some of the finest tomatoes in the area, Cover Produce in Tuolumne, CA recently acquired an Agra Tech greenhouse to increase their ability to grow tomatoes year-round. By working closely with Agra Tech sales engineer, Jim Bergantz and much of the company’s support team, in addition to Ag-Con, Inc., Peter Cover and his large family were able to erect a brand-new ATI greenhouse in a short time with outstanding results. This relationship has now come full circle, because believe it or not, back in the early 1980’s, Peter’s parents purchased an Agra Tech greenhouse that they still use.

On 30 acres of predominantly wooded land, Cover, 46, grows tomatoes for grocery stores and restaurants and delivers them weekly on a regular sales route. With the assistance of his wife and eight children (3 boys and 5 girls ranging in ages 2-23) Cover Produce grows tomatoes in the ground during the summer and in their new greenhouse starting in the fall and then harvesting throughout the winter and spring.

AgraTech Solar Light Cover Produce (1)

New Agra Tech Solar Light 30 with Tomatoes

It keeps the Cover family busy–either planting or harvesting or delivering tomatoes to its clients, Cover said. “The tomatoes don’t stop growing and our customers need them year-round so going to a climate controlled environment during the winter is ideal for what we’re doing. It also helps that my family is very interested in this greenhouse project. I can see the passion in their eyes, especially with my boys.”

Cover’s parents got him into farming back when Peter was a youth, when his mother started growing decorative plants and creating “dish gardens” that quickly became popular. After doing it as a hobbyist, Peter’s parents decided to get a serious greenhouse more than 35 years ago, so they contacted Agra Tech and purchased one.

“My mom has a green thumb and her little greenhouse was too small,” Cover said. “It was a wood structure and they needed something larger, so they got a greenhouse from Agra Tech and it worked well. It’s still full of plants after all these years, which is a testament to how sturdy and resilient that these Agra Tech greenhouses truly are!”

Late last year, Cover and his family decided that the time was right to purchase another Agra Tech greenhouse, so they began the process. It wasn’t an easy task to get the proper permits and construct a 60 foot by 120 foot Solar Light Agra Tech greenhouse, but by tapping into ATI’s vast reservoir of knowledge and experience, it was covered, so to speak.

“Jim Bergantz was incredible,” Cover said. “From start to finish he was onboard and in tune with the project.  Since he has been in greenhouses from his youth as well, it was a real asset to have him covering for us” Cover said. “If we ran into issues, which were few, he was right there and willing to help us in any way he could.  We assembled the greenhouse ourselves. Ray Pound from AgCon set the 44 posts in concrete and the boys and I did the rest. I was amazed to see that Ray set those posts perfectly–he could not have been any more precise–they were dead-on and perfectly aligned. Everything was perfectly square, which was a big deal since we were building it ourselves. He set us up so that when we started our work, every bolt just fell into place. The instruction manual they sent with the massive bundles of parts was very thorough and gave very good instructions as to which part went where. It all made sense and was easy to follow. The entire support team at Agra Tech was terrific and was willing to do whatever we needed to make this project a complete success.”

The Covers burn wood in a furnace to heat their greenhouse–a method that allows them to have the structure at 65 degrees all night, even when it gets chilly in Tuolumne. “The furnace heats the water and then it is forced through duofin aluminum pipes,” Cover said. “The heat radiates from the pipes and into the foliage of the plants, heating the greenhouse very well.”

AgraTech Solar Light Cover Produce (4)Cover Produce is proud of its tomatoes–the only crop they grow in a controlled environment. By concentrating solely on tomatoes, the family has been able to produce some of the area’s finest and that’s why their customers covet them. “We grow grape tomatoes, and two colors of cherry tomatoes and mix them together for a basket of medley tomatoes. We also raise red round slicing tomatoes as well as orange cluster tomatoes.” he said. “I call the other mass-produced tomatoes on the market that come from Mexico and other places ‘pink things’. They have so little flavor and can only provide color to a salad. Since we are a locally operated business, all of our tomatoes can be picked ripe and most of them reach our customers within 2-3 days. Our tomatoes rarely sit for more than a week.”

What does the future hold for the Cover family at Cover Produce? “I am intently interested in helping my sons to take this business and watch it grow with them,” he said. “With this new Agra Tech greenhouse, we have doubled our winter time production and that is going to put us in a great position as we grow more tomatoes and expand our business as a result.”

Article by Edmund Attanasio

Delivery Truck

Delivery Truck

Putting up the gutters.

Putting up the gutters.

AgraTech Solar Light Cover Produce (3)

Putting up the trusses

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.

parmAboutPic

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

 

 

Agra Tech and UC Davis Create Tall Greenhouse Research

Solar Light 50 research greenhouse

Solar Light 50 research greenhouse

With a 16-foot eave height greenhouse manufactured by Agra Tech, UC Davis is able to perform research and development on various types of crops. As a part of the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis in Davis, CA, the College of Agriculture and Environmental Services (CA&ES) maintains a total of 162 greenhouses, and one of their newest one is a custom-made 4,500 square-foot greenhouse made by Agra Tech.

Garry Pearson, CA&ES Lead Greenhouse Manager described the project and its main goal. “We call it the ‘Tall greenhouse’ project among ourselves, because basically it is a greenhouse where a wide variety of crops that can be grown.

Creating and controlling the ideal climate for the “Tall Greenhouse” was a tall order, Pearson said, but by working with Agra Tech, it was achieved. “Our goal was to create a greenhouse environment that has the same exact climate and conditions you’d find in the tropical zones of the world. We’re in a Mediterranean climate here in northern California, so we obviously need a greenhouse to control the marriage between the greenhouse, the climate and the plants.

“By working with Adam and Ray Pound at Agra Tech and Ag-Con Construction respectively, we now have a greenhouse that allows UC Davis to grow crops that are 24 feet tall in a microclimate that features high humidity, which is essential for the crops being studied. The Pounds at Agra Tech were able to meet our requirements in a very cost-effective way and they were involved in every aspect of the design and manufacturing of our ‘Tall Greenhouse.’ It’s a 4,500 square foot greenhouse and it’s working perfectly. It’s easy to work with Agra Tech, because they have a lot of experience and knowledge and they’re not afraid to take on new challenges as well.”

Written by Ed Attanasio

Inside Lean-to

Inside screened Lean-to

Solar Light 50 with insect exclusion

Solar Light 50 with insect exclusion lean-to