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Lassen Canyon Nursery Produces the World’s Finest Strawberry Plants

Lassen Canyon new Solar Light

Founded in the 1950s, the Lassen Canyon Nursery grows a quarter billion strawberry plants in California, Mexico and China every year while also growing hay on 930 acres. With its headquarters in Redding, CA and multiple locations worldwide, this company is well-known for producing strawberry plants that are healthy and strong for their customers all over the world, including huge growers (such as Dole, Sweet Darling and Naturipe Farms) all the way to small do-it-yourselfers with modest backyard gardens.

Clip_2Pete Stone, 57, has been working for the nursery for the past 30 years. He started out in the office and today he is the company’s Tissue Culture Lab Manager and also in charge of its Caneberry Project. The caneberry is a family of delicate berries that grow on tough but thin woody canes and thrive in a cool, moist climate. Caneberries include raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries and the company is currently performing research in order to produce caneberry plants that will be healthy and thriving in any environment.

Lassen Canyon Nursery is a long-time customer of Agra Tech, Inc., commercial greenhouse manufacturers. Stone has a total of eight greenhouses that were purchased from Agra Tech and has plans to buy eight more in the very near future. He values Agra Tech’s knowledge and experience and often relies on them for new, innovative ways to be productive and efficient.

One of these ideas concerned rolling benches for Stone and his operation, he explained. “Jim Bergantz at Agra Tech and I started talking about rolling benches and we wanted them too, but previously we were using solid benches and they offered us zero flexibility. These rolling benches give us a large walkway that can be moved and they allow us to use every square inch of our greenhouse. They make a lot of sense and have already paid for themselves, because now we’re saving time and we’ve increased our volume as a result.”

Rolling Benches

Lassen Canyon Nursery uses two types of structures to grow strawberry plants and perform research and development—screen houses and greenhouses, Stone explained. “We use our screen houses that don’t have real walls—they’re made out of screens, because we want that chill on the berries. For that reason, they’re not completely enclosed. Then, we use our conventional greenhouses primarily for seeding the strawberries and taking them through their formative weeks. The two have very distinct functions and that’s why they look so different.”

raypound

Ray Poundagcon

Stone called upon Ag-Con, Inc. in San Jose, CA to construct the new greenhouses, an experience Stone said was seamless and drama-free. “Ray Pound and Lisa Schultz at Ag-Con make an amazing team and they made the construction easy for us. They built all eight of our greenhouses for us and they took roughly a week to do each one—complete and ready to use. I would suggest to anyone that they should use Ag-Con for the construction, because they’re totally professional and great to work with. They know how to get the right permits, which is a big part of the process and if they run into obstacles, they know how to take care of it, which is important.”

Starting in September, the strawberry plants go out to be grown in soil by Lassen Canyon’s thousands of customers. “Our goal is to ship the strawberry plants and have them in the soil within 72 hours,” Stone said. “Right before we ship them, we expose them to 240 hours at 45 degrees, so that we trick them and they store energy. That way, they are robust and ready for planting once they reach our customers’ farms. In 60-90 days, our customers will have beautiful, juicy strawberries that are consistently of the highest quality you’ll find anywhere.”

The future looks berry, berry good for Lassen Canyon Nursery, according to Stone. “We’re going to expand and get more greenhouses to accommodate our Caneberry Project as well as increase our volume overall. In everything we do, were looking for a better berry so that when they show up in grocery store produce departments, they look right and taste right. By working with Agra Tech and Ag-Con we’re able to excel and grow as we strive to find the perfect berry!”

Lassen North Slope inside

Lassen North Slope inside

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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

 

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