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First Time Growers
Invest for success
Recently I have been helping a customer with their new commercial greenhouse vegetable operation. It is great, despite the disruption by Covid, there is still an appetite for new entrants into the greenhouse industry. It is a steep learning curve for new growers, especially if they have limited or no experience. However, if you make the right connections, with trusted industry suppliers, the opportunities are very attainable.
Marketing is an extremely important part of any business, growing speculatively carries more risk. Before you consider growing you should make sure you have a market/distributor for the product you wish to grow and you understand potential volumes you could supply monthly.
Compliance is seen as a large hurdle. However, there are systems that allow you to work through the different processes required. For example, you will be required to attend Grow safe and certified handler courses. You will be required by many wholesalers to gain NZ GAP Certification. Compliance may seem difficult, and it is, but it also offers growers a layer of protection and understanding. Rather than seen as compliance it is actually a growing tool or guideline for following good farm practices.
Once the marketing and compliance is organised, focus on the implementation of the growing system. Initially discuss the best growing system to suit the way your property has been set up. If you are leasing or have purchased an already operational greenhouse you may have unique differences and challenges. This could impact the growing setup/layout and techniques required for each layout. A basic example is the irrigation systems that can be substantially different from one property to the next. If you are starting from new, your budget may end up being a factor on the final spend and this could well determine production outcomes – so careful planning and costings should happen at the concept stage for the internal layout of any greenhouse structure/project.
Once the layout has been decided then it is about ordering the consumables you will require including the plants. This is another steep learning curve for new growers especially as they have no experience for what is required. For peace of mind new growers should invest in expertise to guide them through the initial stages of their new venture. Spending on expert advice in the beginning could save considerable unnecessary costs. Making basic mistakes, obvious to an experienced grower, may not be obvious to an inexperienced grower.
Following basic growing principals is also very much the process I would use for new growers. Advice will differ slightly depending on the site setup and available technology. There is still a minimum criterion but certainly new growers won’t have the visual knowledge for how to push or not push the envelope.
The above video is recently taken at a new grower’s lease property. They have followed the instructions and set up this lease property as directed. Having them follow a step-by-step guide has made the process seamless. The next step is teaching them the basic plant work required and the daily monitoring tasks.
Article written by Stefan Vogrincic
All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic
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