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Should You Propagate in Your Greenhouse?


Your greenhouse space, energy, and work hours are all limited resources. Deciding how and when to use these resources is critical to operating a successful operation. On January 3, 2023, The Grower & The Economist released a podcast episode where Dr. Peter Konjoian and Michelle Klieger answer the following questions.


Why should growers propagate?

There are three reasons that greenhouse operators might want to propagate their own plants.

  1. To ensure a high quality product: if you sell a product that your customers are paying extra for a higher quality, then starting your own plants gives you more control over the quality of the final product. It could reduce losses later on.

  2. To have more control over supply and timing: if you start your own plants you know when they will be ready. This might be important if you have a tight crop schedule.

  3. To diversify your income: you can be a contract plug grower or seed starter or sell plants that you overproduce. If you are already using the greenhouse those extra months, it might generate extra income as well. Other people will buy from you that do not want to propagate their own plants.

Not only should each business explore propagation, but they should also decide which plants to propagate. For example, not everything you produce might be high quality enough to merit starting the plants, so maybe you start some and not others.


As an economist, I'd say this is thinking on the margin. Will growing this one additional plant help my business or not?


What are the risks and benefits of tent structures verse greenhouse space?


This episode stems from a conversations with Keith Bemerer from Prospiant, a greenhouse company. An area to propagate requires a new structure. There are two main options that we explore. Tent structures, such as a row cover, are more flexible. Greenhouse in a greenhouse structures are more permanent. Both options have some risk in balancing your specialty operation and a new skill.



What are the differences between running using your greenhouse normally and as a propagation space?

Propagation is a specialty within greenhouse production. Most greenhouse operators easily pick up this part of the business, but it's important to note the differences and adjust to them. Some of the differences discussed are variations in temperature, moisture, lighting and ventilation. Each variation can be curated using monitored controls, such as standalone thermostats, overhead mist and mist controls.


Listen to the full episode at https://anchor.fm/thegate/episodes/Is-a-Propagating-Greenhouse-Right-for-Your-Operation-e1srsqj

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