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Investigating iceberg lettuce in the hydroponic greenhouse – 2013 Trial, Part 1

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CropKing Admin
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hydroponic Iceberg Lettuce

Lettuce is the 2nd most popular vegetable in the US (second only to potato), and head lettuce is certainly the most recognizable type. So, it is not uncommon for us to hear the question “Why don’t you produce iceberg lettuce in the greenhouse?” There are, in fact, several key reasons iceberg lettuce is not commonly grown in vegetable greenhouses in the United States. They are listed below and loosely ranked by importance, but these reasons may vary depending on production area and market.

Late Fall to Spring Leaf Lettuce Trial

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CropKing Admin
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leaf lettuce

Hydroponic lettuce production in the United States now encompasses a wide spectrum of lettuce types and cultivars. While Bibb cultivars still occupy a large percentage of the market, many growers are also seeking attractive and distinctive lettuce cultivars to meet consumer demand. Due to these factors, leafy cultivars, including looseleaf and Lollo types, are becoming more common in hydroponic greenhouses. However, some of these cultivars have been more often grown in soil based systems, and there is a need to better understand their performance in the greenhouse. Consistency in both productivity and timing is important for greenhouse growers, and seasonal conditions can have a large impact on cultivar performance. Trialing of available cultivars under differing conditions is important in informing grower decisions. Important points of evaluation are growth rate, yield and visual coloration. The goal of this set of trials was to evaluate a selection of leaf lettuce cultivars through a range of late fall, winter, and early spring conditions to evaluate their potential for greenhouse growers in the Midwest and northeast. Cultivars were obtained from varied seed suppliers to represent a broad selection of cultivars available to lettuce producers.

Selecting a Growing Structure for Fodder Production

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponic Fodder

One of the common questions often heard at CropKing is the optimal environment for hydroponic fodder production. To begin to address this topic, one of the first catch phrases that come to mind is “controlled germination.” This term fits well with hydroponic fodder production because we are only concerned with the first seven to fourteen days of growth. These plants are relying very little on the sun to provide the energy they need to develop, and more on their “food” stores within the seed. This “food” or endosperm inside of the seed is most often in the form of starch. Starch can be converted to a more easily digested form for our livestock to consume through the process of germination. These facts alone can certainly influence the way we approach our environmental control.

Late Summer to Winter Bibb Lettuce Trial

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CropKing Admin
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Lettuce Seedlings

Hydroponic lettuce production in the United States now encompasses a wide spectrum of lettuce types and cultivars. Although there is an increasing amount of diversity in the cultivars being produced in hydroponic greenhouses, Bibb cultivars still occupy a large percentage of the market. They are also often the first crop produced by many beginning growers around the country. While some growers tailor their cultivar selection to seasonal conditions, many growers at a variety of scales produce a single cultivar for the whole year that is adapted to a range of conditions. Both of these production patterns, though, require the growers to be familiar with the growth habits, characteristics, and productivity of the cultivars. This trial was designed to evaluate a selection of Bibb lettuce cultivars through a range of late fall and winter conditions to evaluate their potential for greenhouse growers in the Midwest and northeast. Cultivars were obtained from a variety of seed suppliers to represent a broad selection of cultivars available to lettuce producers.

Maxwell's Fodder Intro

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponic Fodder

With hay and grain costs on the rise and continuing drought immanent, many farmers and ranchers are looking to developing technology to assure the survival of their businesses. Although slightly counterintuitive, hydroponic food production has proven to be a great way to reduce overall water usage and still harvest a wonderful crop. CropKing’s hydroponic fodder system has been steadily gaining more interest as a feasible method for farmers to grow their own feed in order to greatly reduce their overall feed costs.

An Introduction to the Process of Grafting in Greenhouse Tomatoes- Part 2

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CropKing Admin
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Tomato Graft Dome

In the last blog post, we went through a brief photo tour of the first two steps in the grafting process (1. Setting the Stage, and 2. Doing the Grafting). However, when discussing grafting, it is important to know that preparation and grafting are only the first two crucial steps. Graft healing is that key third step in producing successful grafted tomatoes for your greenhouse. So, as the third blog in this series on grafting processes, I want to focus on methods of healing and the transition process from grafting to transplanting in greenhouse tomatoes.

An Introduction to the Process of Grafting in Greenhouse Tomatoes- Part 1

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CropKing Admin
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grafted Hydroponic Tomatoes

Grafting sounds interesting, so where should I begin?In the last blog post, we discussed some of the basics of grafting and the main reasons that growers would be interested in the technique. It is no surprise that over the last few decades, the use of grafting has become quite prevalent in greenhouse tomato production. While the benefits are intriguing for small to mid-scale producers, decisions related to acquiring grafted seedlings must be made.The two broad options are to purchase grafted seedlings or to produce all the seedlings needed in your operation on your own. Seedling purchase and transport costs can be quite high in some instances. So, producing grafts for your own operation is a viable option. It also provides the opportunity to trial a limited number of grafted plants or test different cultivars. There is certainly a learning curve for producing grafted plants, though. So, I would suggest starting by only planning to graft a small portion of your crop the first year to become familiar with the process and it potential benefits in your operation.

An Introduction to the Topic of Grafting in Greenhouse Tomatoes

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CropKing Admin
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Grafted Hydroponic Tomatoes

Grafting has become very prevalent and important in greenhouse tomato production, and there are a couple of key reasons this is the case. Before we explore those reasons, let’s take one quick step back and discuss the basic premise of grafting. Many who are familiar with crop production are aware that most tree fruits are produced with a root system (rootstock) and above ground fruiting portion (scion) from different plants. This same principle is now carried out in many vegetative crops where two separate seedlings are produced and then joined together through the grafting process to produce one plant for transplanting. The use of grafting enables breeders to develop crop cultivars specifically for the demands of root and shoot environments and functions.

Cultivar Report 12.2- Varied Leaf Trial

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponic lettuce production in the United States now encompasses a wide spectrum of lettuce types and cultivars. While Bibb cultivars still occupy a large percentage of the market, many growers are also seeking attractive and distinctive lettuce cultivars to meet consumer demand. Due to these factors, leafy cultivars, including looseleaf and Lollo Rossa types, are becoming more common in hydroponic greenhouses. However, many of these cultivars have been more often grown in soil based systems, and there is a need to better understand their performance in the greenhouse. Consistency in both productivity and timing is important for greenhouse growers, and seasonal conditions can have a large impact on cultivar performance. Trialing of available cultivars under differing environmental conditions as influenced by seasons is important in informing grower decisions. Important points of evaluation are germination and seedling quality as well as growth rate, yield and visual coloration. The goal of this set of trials was to evaluate a selection of leafy lettuce cultivars through a range of late fall, winter, and early spring conditions to evaluate their potential for greenhouse growers in the Midwest and northeast. Cultivars were obtained from a variety of seed suppliers to represent a broad selection of cultivars available to lettuce producers.

Cultivar Report 12.1- Butterhead Trial

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponic lettuce production in the United States now encompasses a wide spectrum of lettuce types and cultivars. Producers desire both attractive and distinctive crop cultivars to meet consumer demand, but consistency in both productivity and timing is still a key in the industry. Many facets of hydroponic lettuce production are impacted by seasonal conditions. One of the most important environmental impact of season is the growth rate of the plant. Growth rate is the driver of productivity and determines crop timing and the number of crops a grower can produce each year. Additionally, crop quality aspects, such as coloration and physiological defects (tipburn) are often influenced by seasonal conditions. Therefore, trialing of available varieties under differing environmental conditions as influenced by seasons are important in informing grower decisions. The goal of this set of trials was to evaluate a selection of bibb lettuce cultivars through a range of late summer to mid-winter conditions to evaluate their potential for growers producing fall to winter. Cultivars were obtained from a variety of seed suppliers to represent a broad selection of bibb cultivars available to US lettuce producers.

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