Increased investment

2018 Structures Report - 2018 Structures Report: Research

In 2018, growers are increasing production space and looking to build their businesses up with new structures.

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July 3, 2018
Chris Manning

In 2018, more growers seem optimistic about the health of the green industry — and it shows in how they are looking to invest in their own businesses.

Through the responses Greenhouse Management has analyzed in our 10th annual Structures Report survey, we have found that more growers across the entire spectrum are looking into building and/or improving their facilities. And with more growing space comes more plant production and, in some cases, a change in the crops being grown.

In last year’s survey, 29.7% of respondents had less than 4,999 square feet of production space. This year, that percentage dropped to 24.8%. Additionally, 2.6% more respondents are growing under 500,000 square feet or more of production space than last year, when 9.9% of growers said they were growing under 500,000 square feet or more.

Compared to 2017’s results, the number of respondents growing bulbs doubled in 2018 to 12.4%. This year, 48.7% of respondents reported growing annuals/bedding plants — a 9.7% increase from 2017’s total. This edges out perennial production, which decreased about 3% from last year to 38.1% in 2018.

Additionally, the number of respondents growing finished stock increased from 11.4% last year to 17.7 this year. The number of respondents growing foliage/tropicals, however, dropped from to 16.8% in 2018 after 26.7% of growers reported growing foliage/tropicals in 2018.

Also of note: 5.4% of respondents indicated that they grow cannabis – a 4.4% increase from 2017 when cannabis was first listed as an option in the research.

Like in 2017, the most popular structure type among respondents is the ridge-and-furrow/gutter-connected greenhouse; in 2017, 44.1% of respondents said they grow in that type of greenhouse, and that number jumped to 53.6% this year. Additionally, 2.6% more respondents say they are growing in a fully retractable roof greenhouse when compared to last year’s numbers. Among the growers who answered “other” for this question, answers included cold frame and wood structures, lean-to structures and some proprietary design, custom-built facilities.
Little has changed from 2017 to 2018 in terms of glazing materials, although more respondents this year reported using glass and polycarbonate sheet than in 2017. Polyethylene film also remained the most popular glazing material, with polycarbonate sheet coming in at No. 2 for the second straight year.
In 2017, a combined 34.2% of respondents reported using a computer zone controller or integrated computer controls. This year, that number slightly increased to 38.2% of respondents. Four respondents also reported carrying out 100% of their environmental control by hand.
Compared to last year, 10% fewer growers say they are not planning on adding more production space. Among those that are, most say they are planning an expansion of less than 4,999 square feet (20.4%), 5,000-9,999 feet (10.6%) or 25,000-49,999 feet (10.6%).
Almost 70% of respondents indicated that they plan to upgrade their existing structures and equipment in the next 12 months, which is a significant change from 2017, when 49.1% of respondents said they planned to make upgrades.