Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Our last day of touring with Haygrove. We saw an incredibly huge strawberry operation with the picking tractors being used that day. That's 56 tunnels in a row - simply stunning! The picking machine was very slow moving, and seemed slightly awkward for the pickers, but they said that it helped tremendously when they had labor shortages last year. Essentially, the picking machines make a bad picker average, which was worth it to the growers when they could hardly get any labor at all. Each picker is laying on an independently articulating bed that they can control with pedals to move forward or backwards to keep up with the picking. This machine cost $90K. Wow. Then we went to another farm that grows a lot of asparagus and potatoes for the local potato chip company. He had some really neat tunnels with great doors that are good for
Today we headed out to Haygrove’s main farm site where they have all the models of their tunnels on display, different crop trials, and their Halo line of poultry structures. We met up with Haygrove’s head agronomist, Graham Moore, who took us all around all day. We started at the cherry trials first, then moved on to more in-ground strawberries, where we learned of the telescoping tunnels, which looked to be a gigantic hassle to us, but was apparently a good deal for others wanting to control the temperature closer to the ground at some stages of a season, then later on, raise the tunnel to cool it off, or give the crop
more head space. Then we moved on to the raspberry trials in the Series 4, or multi-bay tunnels (these are the ones we have). They were incredible! What a neat system! They can get this much growth on these canes in one season – they were the Driscoll’s variety Maravilla, they were huge berries, extremely delicious, and they expected to get another crop off of them the following Spring! It was way cool, though the canes were grown in bags with substrate mix in them, drip irrigated, etc. This allows the tunnel to be used for other things years later, and gives the grower more control with feeding, etc. Very
interesting, and a complete pleasure to walk through that tunnel! We also got so see some pretty cool ways to create the doors on these tunnels, and found the automatic rolling doors to be pretty neat and super convenient – this was also used for the sides. There’s basically any configuration you can do. They have these really great new tunnels called their trellising tunnels that we were completely in love with - they are a bit stronger, and have cross beams that can support a trellising system - it was really neat to see how they did that - it's all tension systems with wires and chains. These tunnels were filled with raspberries too, but they have been used for
tomatoes as well. Intriguing, for sure! The last thing we saw today was the blueberry operation as well as the new super solo structures and the halo chicken structures. A full day capped off with a nice dinner at a local Italian restaurant with the Haygrove crew - a great evening!