Update: Veranda O

Earlier this year Veranda O, a biopesticide, was labeled for commercial greenhouse use for food crops.  Recently, there have been some updates to the label and the product’s efficacy which we want to share with you.
Thielaviopsis (Black Root Rot) is now included as a pathogen controlled by Veranda O. 
Thus, the top three pathogens controlled are:
  • Botrytis
  • Rhizoctonia
  • Thielaviopsis
NOTE: Downy mildew control is minimal to ineffective (Straight from OHP).  
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Virtual Grower: A Decision Support Tool

Virtual Grower is a decision support tool for greenhouse growers. Users can build a greenhouse with a variety of materials for roofs and sidewalls, design the greenhouse style, schedule temperature set points throughout the year, and predict heating costs for over 230 sites within the US. Different heating and scheduling scenarios can be predicted with few inputs.

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LEDs and New Opportunities

We at Hort Americas continue to be amazed at what opportunities LEDs may allow for. We know and understand that it is still early in product development, but we also believe it is the way of the future.

We continue to be excited about our relationship with Philips and the opportunity to sell and market their Green Power LEDs (including the Philips Green Power Research Module, Green Power Production Module and the Green Power Flowering Lamp.

Check out this video from 2008. Even back then researchers were starting to see the possibilities…and trust us, these concepts are already working in parts of the world today!

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Plantagon

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Pesticide Cheat Sheet

At Hort Americas we continue to add to our plant care product lineup. Therefore, we thought it would benefit our customers to have a reference chart or “cheat sheet”. Please click, download, and/or print this chart for your use. Contact us with any questions or comments.

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Hort Americas is looking for Pest Management Products for Small Growers

Hort Americas realizes that Urban Farms, Commercial Hydroponic Greenhouses and Vertical Farms come in a wide variety of sizes.  But, we also realize that most greenhouses have very similar problems when it comes to managing insects and diseases.

Also, since this is a very technical subject we recommend that you contact us at infohortamericas@gmail.com to learn more about products like:

Veranda O, Floramite, Pylon, Attain TR, Pyganic, Evergreen, Pygnaic, RootShield, Actinovate, Actino-Iron.

Again, many of these products are labeled for use on Veggies, many are Organic, but many are not so carefully read the approved label.  Hort Americas is also working with non-traditional pest management products like UV Light. Check out the video below.

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Using Ozone to Treat Biofilm, Algae, and Waterborne Pathogens

Potential contamination of surface and ground water sources from greenhouse runoff poses a challenge to our industry.  Tighter environmental restrictions, regulations, bruised reputations, and of course damage to our environment are all very real results of runoff.  Growers recognize the importance of conserving water and reducing runoff.  It has been estimated that on a per area basis greenhouse vegetable growers that recirculated their irrigation water used half the amount of water compared to non-recirculated operations.  Ornamental operations that did not recirculate their irrigation water used eight times the amount of water compared to their recirculated counterparts. These estimates are both crop and geographically dependent.  The values listed were the result of a study conducted in Canada.  The inescapable fact remains that growers heavily rely on the use of fertilizers and water to produce high quality crops.  Most growers would agree that if they can reuse their irrigation water and therefore maximize their fertilizer investment while also helping our environment the better it is for their company and everyone else.  The challenge of recycling irrigation water is the increased risk of transmitting waterborne plant pathogens. Untreated recirculated water is a looming disaster.  Furthermore, regardless of whether an operation recirculates its irrigation water they will experience biofilm if left untreated.  Biofilm is just that, a thin film of biological material e.g. bacteria, algae, and other potentially harmful and destructive micro-organisms that form on and coat numerous surfaces and can clog emitters.  It is common for growers to use chemical dosing to remove biofilm and pesticide applications to treat plants for diseases.  There is another solution.  Water treatment technologies make it easier and safer for growers to conserve water and protect their crops.  One technology available to growers is ozone.
Ozone has been around a very long time, occurs naturally, and is a strong sanitizing agent.  That smell in the air we so commonly encounter after a rainstorm: ozone.  The word ozone stems from the Greek verb “ozein” meaning “to smell”.  Ozone is made from oxygen.  Elemental oxygen (O2) exists as two atoms of oxygen. Ozone is the triatomic and unstable allotropic form of the gaseous oxygen.  When the bonds of O2 are broken either by UV rays from the sun or the energy from lightning, single oxygen atoms form.  A portion of these split atoms recombine with O2 molecules to form O3.  Ozone works to control algae and pathogens in irrigation water by oxidizing elements of cell walls before penetrating and oxidizing enzymes, proteins, DNA, RNA, and cell membranes.  Ozone has a short residual time in irrigation water yet it is strong enough to remove biofilm.  To produce ozone mechanically, oxygen from the air is converted by using an ozone generator.  The ozone generator uses electrical energy to cause O2 to break apart and reform as ozone.  The resulting ozone is then dissolved in water.  Ozone is often coupled with other technologies which increase its efficacy.  Pre-filtration provides an aid to ozone by removing larger organic particle debris.  The lower the organic load the more likely the ozone molecules will eliminate remaining algae and pathogens.  The required dose of ozone for any sanitation system depends on the intended application.  Destroying biofilm can be done with dissolved ozone residual levels of 0.2 parts per million for as little as 30 minutes.  Algae can be controlled with dissolved ozone residual levels of 0.01 to 0.05 ppm.  Ozone phytotoxicity can occur if residual levels of aqueous ozone exceed 1 ppm.  Therefore, high levels should be avoided.  Gaseous ozone levels as low as 0.075 ppm can reduce plant growth.  Inline monitoring of ozone is possible.  However, inline monitors are costly ($1,500 to $4,000) and require yearly maintenance cost of approximately $200.  Inline monitors can always be added to a system.  Most growers will elect to purchase a sample colorimetric kit.  Ozone is an oxidizer, so it can also be measured using an oxidation-reduction potential meter.  Growers need to recognize that installing an ozone system is a long-term investment.  Ozone sanitation systems are capital intensive.  However, the long term savings on labor and chemical dosing plus environmental friendliness make ozone sanitation an attractive alternative.  One company that understands irrigation sanitation is Pure O Tech, Inc.  
Pure O Tech’s BES-300 (Fig. 1), which stands for Biofilm Elimination System, supplies a concentration of ozone of up to 35 grams per hour and has an operating flow of up to 300 gpm.  The provision of ozone via the BES-300 eliminates and maintains microbial growth that clogs irrigation lines and emitters all the while increasing oxygen levels in the root zone.  The BES-300 offers drop-in installation, convenient service, and replacement parts.  With the BES-300, operations will experience reduced labor and hazardous chemicals are eliminated.  The result is cleaner irrigation tubing, increased production, and higher quality crops.  The BES-300 uses variable ozone injection rate to match the irrigation flow.  Pure O Tech’s design incorporates degassing and metering ozone in the irrigation lines.  Pure O Tech’s knowledge of mixing ozone and water utilizing an ozone generator makes them unique and worth consideration.  For more information on ozone sanitation and Pure O Tech products please contact customerservice@hortamericas.com or call (469) 532-2383.
Figure 1. Pure O Tech BES-300. Eliminates Biofilm from irrigation tubing.
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Dutch TV Spotlights LEDs from Philips

LEDs are gaining more and more popularity in the Netherlands.  From hydroponic production of tomatoes to young plant production to production of flowerin plants like kolanchoes.

If you speak Dutch you will really like the below video and growing flowering crops under LEDs in a multlayering style (vertical farming) and if you do not we think you should watch anyway and call us for help in translating.  Enjoy.

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Veranda O is now available

Veranda™O
High humidity and cool, cloudy conditions are highly conducive to many plant pathogens that cause plant diseases.  Having the necessary tools to combat these diseases is very important for any successful integrated pest management program.  Hort Americas is pleased to announce another weapon in its arsenal against potentially devastating plant pathogens: Introducing Veranda™O from OHP, Inc.  Recently, vegetables (including cucurbits and others), strawberries and more, were added to the Veranda O label.  Plant pathogens controlled are botrytis, rhizoctonia, and other problem pathogens such as alternaria, and powdery mildew.  The mode of action works by inhibiting chitin synthase during cell wall development.  Veranda O should be used in rotation with other fungicides as part of an overall integrated pest management program.
Veranda O is classified as a “biopesticide”, has no cross-resistance to other fungicides, and is soft on beneficial insects.  The product is a water dispersible granule formulation containing 1.81 ounces of active ingredient polyoxin D per pound. The active ingredient polyonxin D, is a natural antibiotic and fermentation product of a soil bacterium.  With a 4-hour REI, Veranda O has a 0 day preharvest interval except grapes which have a 7 day preharvest interval.  Veranda O should be used at 4 to 8 ounces per 100 gallons of water.
For more information contact customerservice@hortamericas.com.

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Pesticide Signal Words

At Hort Americas we receive questions on numerous topics. Recently we had someone ask us to explain pesticide signal words (Caution vs. Warning vs. Danger). Please click on the above title to access the Signal Word Fact Sheet offered by the National Pesticide Information Center (http://npic.orst.edu/index.html).

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NFT Lettuce Production (Hydroponics) using MGS from HortiPlan

Check out this excellent video of Hydroponic Lettuce Production.

This system is called MGS and is from a European company (and vendor partner of Hort Americas) call HortiPlan.

Please contact Hort Americas directly if you have any questions at infohortamericas@gmail.com.

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Horticulture Lighting Basics

Introduction:  Of all the environmental variables in controlled environment agriculture (CEA), light is quite possibly the least controlled and most confusing.  Yet, light is such an important factor.  Aside from temperature, light is arguably the most important environmental factor which affects plant growth.  Light is what drives photosynthesis (the conversion of light energy to chemical energy), photomorphogenesis (the light-driven plant development processes), and photoperiodism (plant recognition of daylength).  So what is light?  What we so commonly refer to as light is really a small segment of radiation within the overall electromagnetic spectrum (Fig. 1).  Electromagnetic radiation is measured in nanometers (one billionth of a meter, 1 x 10-9 meters, or 0.000000001 meters).  One human hair is approximately 50,000 nm in diameter.  There are three basic types of “light”: radiometric, photometric, and quantum. 
Radiometric is based on radiant energy or Joules (J) and the passage of that energy is a Joule per second (J·s-1).  One J·s-1 is equal to one Watt (W).  The rate at which surfaces intercept energy is expressed at W·m­2.  Radiometric measurements are inappropriate for plant growth as they often measure light below and above that which plants use.  However, that is not to state that they are useless.  These units are very important when dealing with the energy balance of a plant or greenhouse system. 
Photometric measurement is based on how the human eye perceives light.  In the U.S., the footcandle (fc) is the preferred photometric unit.  Elsewhere in the world the most common photometric measurement unit is the lux (lumens·m-2).  However, growers need to understand the limitations of photometric units.  Again, photometric units are based on how the human eye perceives light, which at a maximum is approximately 560 nm (or green light) and a waveband that is not correlated with plant photosynthesis.  Photometric measurements can be used to determine maximum light in a greenhouse and to determine light transmission (%) outside versus inside.  Furthermore, photometric units are instantaneous and do not accurately represent the amount of light that a plant has received over a 24-hr period. 
Quantum measurements are based on the number of photons (light particles) within a defined waveband (400 nm to 700 nm). This defined waveband is known as photosynthetically active radiation or PAR.  Photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) quantifies (in micromoles, µmol) the number of photons of light used for photosynthesis falling on a square meter per second (µmol·m-2·s-1, see Fig. 2).  So, PAR is the range, PPFD is the measurement. However, most people simply refer to the measurement as PAR.  A µmol is 1×10-6 (or one millionth) mole.  One mole is Avogadro’s number, 6.02×1023 particles.  If marbles were placed end to end over the surface of the Earth, one mole of marbles would represent a layer of marbles 50 miles deep!  Unlike radiometric and photometric measurements, quantum measurements are directly correlated to photosynthesis and plant production.  Furthermore, quantum measurements can be both instantaneous and accumulated (daily).  This is great because plants are really light counters.  You can think of a plant’s leaves as nature’s solar panels.  Therefore, it is better to know how much light is received by a plant over a 24-hr period versus taking an instantaneous measurement.  However, if you must take an instantaneous measurement to get an understanding of your maximum available light it is recommended to do so between 1100 to 1300 hr.  If you wanted to quickly measure rainfall over a 24-hr period you could set a rain gauge outside for 5 or 10 minutes and calculate the estimated rainfall.  Of course you are presuming that the volume of water falling in the gauge is uniform.  Is it?  How about light?  Does the sun simply turn on and off and project a uniform amount of light over the course of a 24-hr period?  Of course not, so why not measure light constantly over a 24-hr period?  The cost of light measurement equipment may be one reason not to do so.  However, there are companies which offer affordable light measurement technology.  Light measurements can provide valuable information.  The accumulated light a plant receives is correlated to plant quality and yield.  Are you familiar with Daily Light Integral (DLI)?  DLI is the light intensity and duration of PAR received each day and is expressed as mol·m-2·d-1 or mol·d-1. 
DLI is directly correlated to plant growth, development, yield, and overall quality.  Attributes of ornamental crops grown under optimal DLI are smaller and thicker leaves, shorter internodes, higher root mass, higher branching and flowers.  This should not be surprising.  Higher DLI is a common reason why plants finished in late spring generally are of higher quality than those produced earlier in the production season.  This is not to diminish the impact of temperature, which is another discussion.  Low DLI can be an indication that the greenhouse glazing needs to be cleaned or replaced; shade cloth needs to be removed or stowed; hanging basket density is too high; and/or supplemental lighting is needed.  The average target DLI for propagation of cuttings is 4 to 5 mol·d-1.  For bedding plants, containerized crops, and perennials the optimal DLI should be between 10 to 12 mol·d-1.  For food crops, a good rule of thumb is >12 mol·d-1.  For greenhouse tomatoes, it has been shown that for every 1% increase in light there was a subsequent 1% increase in yield.  For lettuce, 17 mol·d-1 is optimal.  So what is your DLI?  Your first step in DLI measurement can be to familiarize yourself with estimated outside DLI.  Dr. Jim Faust at Clemson University has developed DLI maps by month across the United States (Fig. 3).  However, keep in mind that average transmission loss in any given greenhouse can range from 40% to 70%.  Therefore, the next step is to begin measuring DLI.  While several companies offer light measurement tools for instantaneous light measurement (more photometric than quantum), only a few offer tools that will measure and calculate DLI.  Nevertheless, these tools are quite affordable.  A grower can begin measuring DLI for as little as $200.  More sophisticated sensors and data loggers range from $500 to $1,000 and up.
Summary:  Visible radiation, i.e. light, is one of the least controlled and often most confusing environmental growth factors.  Radiometric measurement refers to radiant energy and is practical when measuring the energy balance of a system.  Photometric measurement is based on how the human eye perceives light.  Photometric measurement is useful when determining maximum light levels and light transmission loss within a greenhouse.  Quantum measurement is well-suited for plant growth because it relates to light used for several plant-driven processes including photosynthesis.  Quantum measurements can be both instantaneous and accumulated.  DLI provides and accurate measurement of PAR over the course of a 24-hr period.  Plants grown under optimal DLI are generally of higher quality than plants grown under low DLI.  Increasing DLI can be achieved by adding supplemental lighting.  Please contact me at jbuck@hortmericas.com with additional comments or questions.  Keep growing and make it a great day!

Figure 1.  The electromagnetic spectrum.  The visible spectrum encompasses approximately 380 nm to 780 nm.  Photosynthetically active radiation or PAR is 400 nm to 700 nm.
Figure 2. Image depicting photons of light falling on one square meter.

Figure 3.  Map of outdoor DLI by month throughout the United States.
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Light Emitting Diodes

Introduction: The Light Emitting Diode, commonly referred to as the LED, is probably something you have heard or read about by now.  LEDs can be found in everything from automobile head lights and tail lights, traffic lights, handheld flashlights and so on.  LEDs are even being tested as a wireless LAN alternative.  Simply put, LEDs are showing up everywhere.  An LED is more like that of a computer chip than a light “bulb”.  That’s because it is a solid-state semiconductor device.  In 2008, LEDs occupied 7% of global lighting market share.  In 2010, 20% of the global lighting market share was with LEDs.  By 2020, LEDs are estimated to occupy 75% of global lighting.  Although LEDs may seem to be a relatively new light source they were actually invented in the 1920’s.  However, a visible light (380 nm to 780 nm, Fig. 1) version was not developed until the early 1960’s.  That first visible light version was red in color and additional wavelengths (green, yellow, and orange) were developed through the 1970’s.  In 1993, the first blue LED was developed.  With the addition of a phosphor coating to the blue LED, the white LED was created.  The color of light emitted by any LED is determined by the type of semiconductor material and the impurities used to form the LED.  Although safe, caution should be used when using UV-B and UV-C LEDs.  At sufficient levels UV-B and UV-C wavelengths can be dangerous to the human eye and skin.  Additionally, some LEDs are bright enough to cause eye damage and should not be looked at directly.  LEDs offer many positive characteristics over traditional lighting sources.

Advantages/Challenges: The two most commonly discussed advantages to using LEDs are efficiency and lifetime.  LEDs are more efficient (output divided input) than incandescent and fluorescent lamps and are essentially equivalent to high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps.  White LEDS are less efficient because the phosphor coating must interact with the base color (usually blue) to create white light.  There exists potential for significant cost savings of LEDs over other current horticultural lamps.  Unlike traditional lamps, LEDS generally do not “burn out”.  The metric used is the LED’s “lifetime” which is the time (in hours) required for the light output to drop below a percentage of the original maximum intensity under optimal operating conditions.  Generally speaking, growers will replace their lamps when the light output drops below 90%. Therefore, a grower can expect a lifetime of approximately 25,000 hours at 90%.  The long operational life of LEDs nearly eliminates the procurement and disposal costs for replacement bulbs.  Associated labor cost would also decrease.  LEDs emit little or no radiant heat.  However, there is a loss of heat from the diode junction.  The thermal output can be significant when LEDs are used in high-densities.  LEDs also offer the advantage of turning on instantly and do not require warm-up time.  They also turn off instantly.  One subtle, yet important, advantage to LEDs is that they do not contain hazardous materials unlike fluorescent lamps which contain mercury and require special disposal.  LEDs also do not produce damaging ultraviolet wavelengths, (unless using UV LEDs), as do HID lamps if the protective envelop breaks.  Due to their size, LEDs offer flexibility in fixture design.  The primary difficulty which has prevented mass LED installations for greenhouse lighting has been cost.  Although the initial cost may be higher than other supplemental light sources, the ROI is much shorter due to energy efficiency and life span.  Secondly, the cost of LEDs is constantly decreasing and companies like Philips Lighting and others are offering affordable LED technology.  The primary technical obstacle to using LEDs for horticulture lighting is the low light output of some current LEDs wavebands of interest to horticulturists.  Although an LED replacement to today’s HID lamp does not exist, sources estimate that one will be available in 3 to 5 years.  Nevertheless, LED modules of desirable wavebands exist and are currently being used for multilayer production and intracanopy lighting (Fig. 2 and 3, respectively).  Other LED lamps being produced have a standard E27 fitting, which allows for direct replacement in existing installations.  No additional modifications are required (Fig. 4).

Horticulture Applications: The ability to control spectral quality is of interest for crop production and is not easily achieved with broad-spectrum light sources.  LEDs produce narrow-spectrum wavelengths they have been manufactured in highly plant-absorbed colors.  Spectra can be customized and even modified to match the crop needs and control the photoperiod or growth cycle.  Therefore, LEDs require a systematic approach which is dependent on the crop being grown and the goals of the grower.  Since growers are using highly plant-absorbed colors, LEDs should produce much less wasted light and energy versus using non-productive wavelengths.  Recall that LEDs emit very little if any radiant heat which allows them to be operated close to the canopy.  This also increases the light intercepted by the plant further improving the use efficiency.  The capability of using LEDs closer to the plant canopy provides options such as multilayer production of many crops including tissue culture.  Multilayer production using other light sources is possible.  However, more shelves per unit volume are possible with LEDs.  For example, one grower decreased their light energy consumption by more than 50% and increased their multilayer production by 33% without additional production volume simply by switching to LEDs.

Summary: LEDs possess several characteristics that make them an attractive greenhouse supplemental light source.  Control over the spectral composition is possible with LEDs.  They provide high light output with low radiant heat.  Their small size offers flexibility in design and placement.  Last, but not least, they are exceptionally long lasting and are more energy efficient than other supplemental light sources.  The outlook for solid-state lighting technology is bright (pun intended).  LEDs are a prime candidate for use in controlled environment agriculture.  They are another tool available to extend production seasons, increase yield, and improve quality.  One final mention is the light output unit of measurement.  You will not report in footcandles with LEDs.  Their output is reported in micromoles per square meter second (µmol·m-2·s-1).  We will cover horticultural lighting basics in an upcoming newsletter article, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, if you have additional questions regarding LED lighting please contact Hort Americas, LLC.  We appreciate your interest and look forward to working with you soon.  Make it a Great Day!
Figure 1. The Electro Magnetic Spectrum.  Visible light is considered to be between 380 nm to 780 nm.
Figure 2. Image of LED modules being used in multilayer production.  Photo courtesy of Philips Lighting (www.philips.com/horti).
Figure 3. Interlighting module being used in high-wire greenhouse tomato production.  Photo courtesy of Philips Lighting (www.philips.com/horti).
Figure 4.  . Philips GreenPower LED flowering lamp.  Photo courtesy of Philips Lighting (www.philips.com/horti).

Floricultura now in the USA.

Hort Americas would like to welcome Floricultura (Growers of Premium Quality Orchids) to the USA.

Below is a great video (even though it is in Dutch) from Hortifair 2009.

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Hort Americas is Mentioned In CNN Money article on Urban Agriculture

Hort Americas is proud to share this link from CNNMoney.com.  The link takes you to an Article on Urban Agriculture (Farming) and the impact it can have on our future.  It includes mentions of innovative companies like:  Eco Spirit, TerraSphere Systems, Big Box Farms, Gotham Greens and Cityscape Farms and innovators such as Dickson Depommier.

Please read more about the article here:

Urban Farming 2.0:  No Soil, No Sun

If there are any questions please email us at infohortamericas@gmail.com.

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Sanitation Station

The best way to control pest in hydroponics is thru good sanitation practices.

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