Greenhouse cultivation during winter allows you to offer fresh products to your consumers all year round. However, winter temperatures in the Nordic countries will increase pertinent costs for production during this period. Learn about greenhouse energy consumption and how to reduce the associated costs, and find out whether cultivation in winter is adapted to your situation.
Costs associated to winter cultivation
Evaluate the energy consumption
Lighting and heating are generally the biggest factors in compounding energy expenditures. Ideally, you need to assess your winter energy consumption before starting your production. This calculation allows you to know the consumption in kWh per equipment during this period and to determine whether this avenue is profitable. Our experts can help you with this calculation.
In addition, you may browse the MAPAQ/USDA websites to learn about government programs that might help you.
Crop choice and demand
A large volume culture allows you to make a profit and to offset additional energy expenditure. The selection of the type of winter growing is therefore key.
Certain vegetables, such as broccoli and salad, better withstand the cold. Consumer demand must also be considered. A culture that withstands the cold well, but which is not popular in winter will be less profitable.
Our Quebec-based customer Le Jardin des Funambules decided to offer restaurateurs fresh vegetables even in winter. A first greenhouse heated to 5 degrees is used for growing Swiss chard, celery and mixed green salad. The second greenhouse, colder, is dedicated to the production of kale, spinach and other type of greenery.
Reducing greenhouse costs in winter
The main challenge of growing during cold weather is to maintain in the greenhouse a climate identical to the summer climate.Here is how you may palliate for the shortfalls and decrease the costs associated with winter farming:
- Plan well: Adequate preparation provides you with better productivity during winter. Consider preparing your commercial greenhouse operation well in advance. You can count our experts throughout the year.
- Use supplemental lighting: In the Nordic countries, natural light is insufficient for greenhouse production from November to February. The use of auxiliary lighting is the only way to safeguard your production during this period. It provides the light necessary for plant growth and radiates a small amount of heat which complements your main heating source.
- Install a heating system at plant level: When going up, the air directly warms your plants. So there is less heat loss.
- Optimize space: A larger greenhouse has better production capacity, but is more expensive to heat. Benches can be used to save space and limit heating costs. However, they are not suitable for all types of culture.
- Use thermal screens: There is a substantial heat loss at night. Thermal screens prevent an excessive drop of temperature at night. They save around 40% on heating costs.
- Manage humidity with ventilation: The temperature difference between the interior of the greenhouse and outside is considerable in winter. This variation challenges moisture management and promotes the spread of disease. Ventilation then becomes essential. Climate control facilitates humidity management inside the greenhouse.
Equipment required for winter growing
- Artificial lighting
- Single or double layer thermal screens
- Double layer polyethylene film
- Heating system at plants level
Energy expenditure increases significantly in winter. A cost benefit analysis lets you know if it is better to continue your production during the cold season or to cease your activities. We can help you assess your needs and start your project.
Contact the experts at Harnois today and get ready for winter
We can help you assess your needs and start your project.