Tips to minimize greenhouse damage in wind and snow storms

Polyfilm greenhouse damaged by the weight of the snow.

Polyfilm greenhouses damaged from heavy snow.

All it takes is one big snow or wind storm to cause considerable damage to your greenhouse. With global climate change, storms are becoming more severe every year. Fortunately there are actions you can take to prepare your greenhouse for future storms.  Greenhouse Management magazine wrote an article on some useful tips to help reduce storm damage to the greenhouse. While these tips mainly apply to a poly greenhouse (with Solexx, many of these concerns are greatly reduced or alleviated completely), here are some highlights that are universal no matter what your greenhouse covering.

Tips to minimize any wind damage to your greenhouse:

  • Check for loose objects around that greenhouse that may become airborne in a windstorm and damage the greenhouse
  • Inspect trees for dead or weak limbs
  • Close all doors and vent openings to keep wind from getting inside the greenhouse
  • For long term planning, consider growing a row of fast growing conifers as a wind block (planning them strategically so they don’t block the sun)

Tips to keep greenhouse damage from snow to a minimum:

  • Heat your greenhouse to 60 degrees F to keep snow and ice from accumulating on the greenhouse
  • Have a generator on hand in case you lose power
  • Remove any energy curtain so the heat can reach the greenhouse covering

Advantages of Solexx over polyfilm in snow and wind:

  • Solexx does not rip or tear
  • No need to inflate Solexx, so electricity outages do not lesson the insulating ability
  • Solexx is extremely durable and will stand up to the weight of snow

Read the complete list of tips, Reduce storm damage to your greenhouses. If you have any additional tips to protect against wind and snow damage that have worked for you in the past, please share them in the comment section below.

Posted in Benefits of Solexx

CSA Boxes featured at Cultivate 2017

What a fantastic show at Cultivate 2017! Thank you for all of you that stopped by out booth. It is always exciting to see old friends and meet new growers! Greenhouse Grower Magazine stopped by to film a short video of us talking about our product offerings.

Aside from Solexx Greenhouse covering, we also provide CSA CropBoxes to CSA farmers. What makes these boxes unique are the sealed edges. The twin-wall polypropylene boxes are soft plastics that is gentle on the produce for easy transportation to your CSA members. Members return the boxes during their next pick up for a closed-loop sustainable system that helps the environment and cuts costs.

For more information, visit our Ag website at www.farmwholesaleag.com

Video Footage of Adaptive Plastics at Cultivate 2017

Video Interview featuring Laurie Stribling:

We are a proud American producer of Solexx material which is a greenhouse covering. We have tree wraps, and we also sell the CSA boxes. The boxes are a polypropylene product with a sealed flute so that you are able to sanitize them. You get multiple uses out of them…up to 150 turns per box. They can carry up to 75 pounds. They are available in half-bushel, three-quarter bushel, and bushel and one-fifth. We are very proud of these boxes and they meet the new FDA regulations.

If you have any additional questions about the CSA boxes, contact Laurie at 1-877-476-5399 or email laurie@solexx.com

Posted in General

Guess what’s hiding under the snow in Flagstaff Arizona

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If you guessed a Solexx covered walipini you would be correct.

Over the years we have had people ask us “how well does Solexx work in snow?” and I think these pictures tell the story. If your framework is solid, Solexx can take on a snow storm.  Unfortunately for this Customer they didn’t have a chance to finish the door before the weather turned snowy and cold, however they said the temperature in the greenhouse was relatively warm even without the door!20160109_110713_001_01a20160109_111304_004_01a

Posted in General

Screw Holes in Greenhouse Framing – Are they a concern?

the combination of plywood screwed into perpendicular wood beams gives a big boost in structural integrity. The same is true for Solexx Greenhouse Covering when it is attached to the greenhouse framing.Do screw holes weaken structure? The simple answer is yes. Screw holes remove material from the cross section – which by definition reduces the material available to carry load through the structure. Does this cause any issues with greenhouses covered with Solexx? The answer is absolutely not. In fact the frame panel system is significantly stronger once the greenhouse paneling is attached than the frame was by itself. Any slight reduction in strength of the framing members themselves is dramatically compensated by the shear stiffness and strength added by the panels to the frame system.

In fact, greenhouse construction is surprisingly similar to other stiffened panel construction used in house framing or modern aircraft. If you have ever put plywood sheathing on a wood framed building, you know firsthand that the structure increases in rigidity and strength the moment you start nailing plywood sheathing on the outside. This strength increase is dramatically despite the small reduction of the stud strength damaged by the attaching nails.

Yes, the fastener holes do slightly weaken the backup stringers but the combined strength of the panel and the stringer is much higher when combined. Consider the following examples of stiffened panel construction and notice the similarity to greenhouses. Fasteners are a critical element in these structures to carry the shear load developed in the skin into the backup structure where it can be effectively distributed to the base of a building, the footings of a bridge, or the wings of an airplane.

For additional information and technical drawings, contact us at info@solexx.com.

Posted in General

Oregon Energy Trust increase Greenhouse Rebates

Great news!

Energy Trust just increased three of the greenhouse rebates they offer.  In two cases they more than tripled the rebate.  For more information you can call Ulrike Mengelberg, Outreach Manager, 971-244-8193 or check the Energy Trust Website at www.energytrust.org/ag

The 3 increases include:

1. Thermal Curtains are now $.30 per square foot, up from $.09.

2. Greenhouse Controllers are now $.10 per square foot, up from $.03.

3. Condensing Unit Heaters are now a prescriptive/rebate at $5.00 per kbtu/hr in.

 

To apply

·         Fill out the Rebate Form, http://energytrust.org/library/forms/PE_FM0420NG.pdf

·         Attach invoices or receipts

·         Send it in within 6 months of purchase and by the end of the year.

·         Cash your check after you receive it, typically within 4-6 weeks

 

 

 

 

Posted in General

Protect your investment from hail damage with Solexx

Once in a while we all experience a freak act of nature. A Solexx customer in Arkansas was caught in the path of a storm that produced golf ball to baseball sized hail on April 19th, 2016. The hail completely totaled his Dodge Durango, poked holes in siding and dented metal roofs. The Solexx covering suffered some dings on the top layer, but the hail did not rip through the panels. Solexx kept the damaging hail from entering the greenhouse protecting all the plants inside. As a grower, it’s good to know you can count on Solexx to protect everything you’ve worked so hard to grow… even in the harshest weather events.

 

Posted in Benefits of Solexx, General, Solexx Testimonials and Reviews

Snow load test on Solexx Greenhouse Panels

The strength and durability of Solexx is a huge advantage over cheap greenhouses. Solexx greenhouses are popular in Alaska, Colorado, New England and many other snow prone locations.

We decided to put Solexx to the test ourselves, to help give our customers a visual of the strength of Solexx. Since snow weight varies depending on whether it is wet or dry snow, we decided to use Coir Blocks (each weighs about 11 pounds) as the weighted object to place on Solexx. (Note: The design of the greenhouse frame determines a greenhouse’s snow load capability; however, Solexx reduces the risk of collapse in snow and ice.)

A Solexx panel was cut to 4×4 and screwed onto a steel frame. The screws were placed 6 inches apart. The frame was raised off the ground by attaching it to an open wooden raised frame.

We measured the deflection (how much the panel sags where there is no support directly underneath it) on the underside of the panel. With nothing on it, it was about 1”.

We then started loading coir blocks onto the panel one by one, placing 16 blocks on each row until they stacked over 11 rows high (each row is about 6″ tall). The full pallet of coir blocks was placed on the panel, a total of 180 blocks, 2023 pounds! The deflection of the panel was 2 3/8” when loaded with the blocks.

The blocks were left on the panels for 6 days. We took the coir blocks off the panel and made observations. When the weight was removed, the deflection of the panel was 2”. The screws were not torn and the panel remained in near perfect condition. After another 5 days we measured the deflection again. It was 1 5/8”. So as the weight was removed, the greenhouse panel slowly began to regain its original form.

Posted in Benefits of Solexx, General, Solexx Testimonials and Reviews

Polar Vortex and Major Snow Events Shorten Greenhouse Payback Period

Polar Vortex events make upgrading to energy efficient greenhouse covering even more urgent.Last year’s Polar Vortex and this year’s major snow events illustrate how these larger scale weather occurrences have a major impact on reducing the payback period for greenhouse energy conservation projects. As outside temperatures drop below normal, energy consumption goes up, and heavy snow fall can force growers to heat an empty greenhouse or heat an active greenhouse at temperatures higher than would be needed in a normal year. With a more efficient greenhouse covering, these added costs can be reduced. When you take a good hard look at the numbers, it makes more sense than ever to invest in energy efficient greenhouse covering.

Polar Vortex

For example, let’s consider the impact of a Polar Vortex event on a grower in Kalamazoo, Michigan. According to Jeffrey Andresen, the State Climatologist for Michigan, “The normal mean temperature during the winter months (DJF – December, January, and February) in Kalamazoo is 26.7°F (based on 1981-2010 normals). During the severe winter of 2013/2014, the mean DJF temperature was 20.1°F or 6.6°F below for Kalamazoo.“ Dr. Andresen continued, “To find a nearby regional site with a normal DJF mean temperature of 20.1°F, you would have to go to the Upper and Northern Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. In the recent severe weather event Kalamazoo was more like the more northern weather stations like Munising, Manistique, Kalkaska, Gaylord or Lupton.”

Utilizing the USDA-ARS Virtual Grower software, a representative 100’ long x 25’ wide 4 year double polyethylene (R-value 1.7) covered greenhouse in Kalamazoo saw an increase in energy consumption of almost $1,300 compared with the same greenhouse under normal Kalamazoo winter temperatures. The same greenhouse covered with an energy conserving product like 5 MM Solexx™ (R-value 2.3) greenhouse covering only experienced energy increases in the same Polar Vortex weather conditions of a little more than $820. The $480 worth of energy savings in this example is also independent of loss of electrical power causing inability to inflate your greenhouse covering to achieve your covering options insulation value.

So how does all of this impact the payback period of a greenhouse energy conservation project like recovering a greenhouse with Solexx? Let’s look at the numbers. The additional energy costs reduce the payback period (solely based on energy savings) to recover the greenhouse with Solexx instead of double polyethylene film by almost a year (0.85 years). Originally the project would have had a payback period of 4 years and with just one Polar Vortex type season, the payback period dropped to 3.15 years.

Major Period of Snow

Greenhouse collapsed by the weight of the snow.Growers are often forced to run heaters in an empty greenhouse or increase the heat in an occupied greenhouse to help melt the snow and fulfill the requirements imposed by some insurance carriers to help prevent a heavy snow load from collapsing a greenhouse. These increased energy costs are often the sole financial responsibility of the greenhouse grower.  Another option often requested by insurance companies is that you are asked to “cut the plastic”, allowing the snow to fall into the structure. This practice saves the greenhouse, but prevents it from being an income-generating venture. Any plants still in the greenhouse would also be collateral damage. Despite the option chosen, unreimbursed grower costs are certain to increase, income potential could decrease, and additional time out of your busy day will be needed to work with your insurance adjuster. A grower’s choice of greenhouse covering can also impact their annual premium. Greenhouse growers should check with their insurance company to better understand their policy specifics.

If we go back to the previously used example, under normal Kalamazoo weather conditions according to Virtual Grower, it would cost $1,679 to heat the double polyethylene covered greenhouse for the month of January to melt the snow off the roof. This assumes you normally would not start to heat the greenhouse until February. If the greenhouse was covered by a greenhouse covering like Solexx that allowed the snow to quickly slide off and did not accumulate, and you were saved the additional energy expense, then the payback period for recovering with the Solexx would drop from 4 years under normal conditions to just 3.05 years under a major snow fall event. This almost one year reduction in the payback period under this circumstance can change an energy conservation project from being reasonable, to a “no brainer.”

Now with the “new normal” being abnormal weather events like the Polar Vortex or Major Snow Events, it is important for growers to consider these factors when they decide on a greenhouse energy conservation improvement project,  like recovering with Solexx greenhouse coverings. Greenhouse energy conservation projects reduce grower’s risks. They can provide a level of insurance against future energy increases, potential damage from major reduced temperature weather events (Polar Vortex) and effects of large scale snow weather patterns (i.e. Boston 2015) that you cannot find coverage for in a traditional property insurance policy.

Posted in Benefits of Solexx, General

Northwoods Nursery

“Three or Four years ago, we completely recovered one of our greenhouses with Solexx and applied it to some of the end walls on our other structures. We have been pleased with the growing environment in our Solexx structure for the wide variety or plants we grow in our nursery. The diffused light produced by Solexx allows us to produce a better crop in the warmer summer months. After the Solexx was installed, we had winter weather with quite a bit of snow. We found that the snow slid off the Solexx quickly and that prevented us from having to go around and knock the snow off the greenhouse roof. Finally, we have found the Solexx to be low maintenance and is holding up well at our Oregon nursery.”

–Northwoods Nursery,

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northwoods nursery 3

northwoods nursery 4 Molalla, ORInside a Solexx covered greenhouse at Northwoods Nursery

Posted in Solexx Testimonials and Reviews

Simple Ways to Save Energy in the Greenhouse this Winter

Clearly energy has become more and more of a concern over the years. With a higher frequency of polar vortex events, growers are looking for ways improve efficiency when it comes to saving energy. If your greenhouse covering is due to be replaced, now is the time to research alternatives to help cut energy costs and drive down your expenses.

By switching to a twin-wall material like Solexx, growers are able to save hundreds of dollars on energy expenses. Check the numbers for yourself on the USDA’s virtual grower analysis: http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=19961.  Just enter your structure features and you will get side by side comparisons of energy consumption using different types of covering, including Solexx .

With a 2.3R value, Solexx maximizes energy efficiency. Re-covering is quick and easy on any structure; it is particulary useful on a hoop house. Unlike polycoarbonate, Solexx is flexible and easily conforms to the hoop house shape – no more double-poly blowers needed!

For some additional energy saving tips for those who are not in the market yet for new covering, check out this article about simple steps to saving energy in a greenhouse that was recently published Grower Talks. http://www.ballpublishing.com/GrowerTalks/ViewArticle.aspx?articleID=21113

Posted in General