Who says growers can only rely on the sun for light?
It may seem obvious, but light is hugely important to bringing up crops. Depending on where you live, dealing with light levels can be a serious challenge, whether it’s making sure your plants have enough of it during the long, dark winter, or making sure they aren’t frying during the hot summer months.
Luckily, however, the modern greenhouse has radically changed a grower’s reliance on sunlight to bring up crops. A range of modern equipment now exists to help manage light levels regardless of the time of year - meaning you can grow more, better, from the comfort of your very own greenhouse.
Here’s a look at some time-tested light control levels that have made growing high-quality crops in a greenhouse easier than ever for so many of our customers and partners. Take a look, and then ask yourself: how much am I doing to harness the power of sunlight?
Shade Structure - Limiting The Most Powerful Rays
Known far and wide for their usefulness to garden centers and outdoor display areas, shade structures offer the very thing their name implies: shade. For many plants, this means staying cool even through the hottest summer days.
For growers in southern regions or those chugging through the hottest months of summer, the intense light of the sun can pose a serious threat to your plants. Heat stress and burns can limit crop production and damage plants beyond the point of fruitful productivity. By removing just a small amount of that direct sunlight, you can continue to offer your crops all the necessary energy they need to grow without the stress of direct light.
And because direct sunlight is the natural enemy of standing water, plants left overexposed to intense sunlight tend to need more frequent waterings than those left under the protection of a shade structure. That’s why so many growers who choose shade structures see notable decreases in water costs as a result, and why a shade structure might just be the solution to your midsummer heat and light issues.
Glass & Glazing - Letting The Right Light In
While open-air grow setups may be stuck in the stone age, relying only on sunup and sundown to ensure plants have all the light they need to thrive, a greenhouse does one better.
That’s because most greenhouses are surrounded by some kind of glazing, or covering material like glass, polycarbonate, or poly-film. These three may be different in many important way - glass, for example, is typically clear, while poly and poly-film tend to be opaque or translucent - they each achieve the same overall goal: light diffusion.
By diffusing sunlight before it hits your crops, glazing materials help optimize and equalize light levels throughout your greenhouse, ensuring no one patch of your grow is favored or left in the dark as the sun travels across the sky.
This diffusion will also help prevent the worst damage from intense summer sunlight, helping to reduce burn patches under the hot sun. On top of that, glazing materials also offer protection from wind and other elements to make sure no summer storms damage your hard work.
Energy Curtains - Controlling the Sun Made Easy
Whether you’re growing through the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter, keeping your plants nice and cozy can be a challenge. Light and temperature can fluctuate pretty broadly from day to night during both of these seasons, and much of a grower’s energy bills can be spent keeping a greenhouse warm at night and cool during the day. One possible solution: energy curtains.
With energy curtains,you can make controlling the light and heat levels in your greenhouse simple and effective all year long. By regulating light levels and trapping in (or out) heat through the change of seasons, you make it easier to keep your grow on the right track through just about any season.
Plus, growers who opt for energy curtains can expect major savings on their temperature control bills. According to the National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association “growers who have installed curtain systems commonly report annual savings of 30% or more.” That means energy curtains can pay for themselves in energy savings in as little as three growing seasons - a big savings for those currently struggling with temperature and light regulation.
Greenhouse Lighting - The Key To Getting Through Those Long Nights
For those looking to maximize their output through four-season farming, greenhouse lighting plays an important role in keeping your plants energized and growing even when days are short and nights are long.
To compensate for the lack of sunlight through the winter months, may growers choose supplemental greenhouse lighting to provide just the right level of light regardless of the time of year. This can be revolutionary for growers looking to make the most of those winter months, added lighting can be the difference between a successful and a failed four-season grow.
Light Deprivation - For When Your Plants Need A Little Rest
When we think “light control,” we generally think about limiting light levels. But for plenty of growers - especially those raising particularly cyclical crops like cannabis - too much light can actually be a bad thing. In these instances, light deprivation can be hugely important to ensuring top quality throughout the growing season.
For plants like cannabis, keeping light levels to a minimum for up to twelve hours a day can be imperative. Light deprivation setups help eliminate almost all light from your greenhouse during these times, meaning your crops will no longer suffer during those long summer days simply because the sun is still shining.
Bonus: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Solar Energy
If you’ve operated a greenhouse with environmental control systems before, you probably know that keeping your greenhouse at the right temperature and light level can be an expensive process. Between the cost of ventilation, heating, and light deprivation, energy costs for greenhouses can be a burden for small-scale farmers. That’s why solar energy continues to represent a big savings opportunity for greenhouse growers all across the world, even in single greenhouse setups.
By implementing a solar power system in your greenhouse, you will not only reduce your energy expenditures but also increase the stability of your existing environmental control systems. No longer will your greenhouse suffer due to power outages or energy shortages - with the consistent power of the sunshine, your greenhouse can stay up and active all year long. Plus, you can continue to supplement your solar energy with traditional energy sources for those cloudy or dark days for added security.
Light Done Right for All Growers
Regardless of how exactly your struggles with light manifest themselves - whether it’s lack of light through the winter or too much of it during the summer - a greenhouse system can represent a highly effective way to stabilize and optimize light for your crops regardless of the season.
If you’re ready to transition away from an outdoor grow at the mercy of the sun alone, or if you’re looking to improve your existing greenhouse grow to extend your growing season, consider implementing light control options - it may just be the brightest idea you have all year.