Case Study: Under control

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The lessons one grower has learned in effectively preventing crop loss

December 11, 2012
Laura Allen

When Billy Morrow was a grower at another operation, he experienced a significant crop loss one season when his berberis crop’s roots became scorched. Morrow says the way they spaced the crop caused the roots to have too much sun exposure, and the roots were unable to become acclimated to the temperature.

“So as a practice we started paying more attention to when we’re spacing the crop,” says Morrow, who now works as the head grower at Stacy’s Greenhouses in York, S.C. “When they space the crop now, they look at weather conditions and make sure they’re not spacing it during extreme heat like that.”

He says they also take a preventive step by using cooling sets of water, which cools the root zones down and helps them acclimate to the soil temperature.

It was a lesson learned the hard way, something most growers probably experience when it comes to crop loss.

“Unfortunately, a lot of crop loss is hindsight,” Morrow says. “But I think each time there is a crop loss within a company … the odds of that crop loss happening again for that reason is slim to none.”

While some lessons can only be learned from mistakes, there are ways of preventing a crop loss. Now Morrow takes multiple steps in ensuring a successful season.

For starters, he keeps an extensive track record of everything done to the crops in an Excel spreadsheet, which is useful for staying on top of chemical applications. Stacy’s Greenhouses also implements area management so that 100 percent of its crops are not all in one section. The areas have different conditions and are also managed by different growers.

“Hopefully what’s going on in a particular area is not going on nurserywide,” Morrow says.

One of the biggest tools Morrow uses is the weather. He monitors it by using both and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“It’s a constant deal of watching your daytime highs and your nighttime lows, your rainfall and your humidity,” he says. “Realizing how those conditions can affect your plants is critical.”

While crop loss may not always be prevented, it’s paying attention and staying on top of the things that are in your control that can be the difference in a successful season or a devastating loss.

Want to know more?
Stacy’s Greenhouses, (800) 426-7980 or