CO-Horts

CO-Horts

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Spanish Greenhouse Tour

By: Sherie Caffey, Horticulture Agent, CSU Extension-Pueblo County


A sea of green...houses
Late last year, I was lucky enough to help facilitate an educational tour of the agriculture industry in Spain. On this tour, we visited many interesting facilities ranging from stud farms, to feed lots, to wineries. For me, one of the most impressive facilities that we visited was operated by a company called Bio Procam. This company cultivates, packages, and markets organic vegetables and subtropical fruits. They crank out over 15,000 tons of produce every year, using farmers that belong to the cooperative, and 25 acres of company owned greenhouse land. They have 26 full time workers that keep their greenhouses going. White plastic greenhouses stretch as far as the eye can see in the area where their operations are located.

Organic produce
43% of the company’s production is cucumbers, tomatoes and avocados each account for 20%, zucchini is 9%, and subtropical fruits are 8% of their total production. 28% of what they grow gets exported to Germany. This is followed by France getting 22%, 21% stays home in Spain, the UK gets 8% and the other 21% is spread throughout the rest of Europe. The success of this company is even more astonishing when you consider that they only grow and distribute produce during the fall and winter months. They have found a niche growing all winter long until April or May, when competition becomes too much.

Bio Procam is committed to being 100% organic. For this reason, everything is grown in the soil, no hydroponic production is done. There cannot be any kind of organic contaminants presented into the system, so the workers cannot live on the site. To keep things clean and working well, they replace the plastic on all of the greenhouses every three years. They have a company that recycles the used plastic for them.

Food for beneficial insects
Bumblebee box
 In front of the vegetable crops, they grow wheat and barley to feed beneficial insects that will feed on aphids and other pests in the event that they arrive in the greenhouse. In the summer, the greenhouses are taking a break from vegetable production, but they grow radish and mustard seed for bio fumigation. These plants will help to rid the greenhouse of things like nematodes and fusarium wilt. They also use sticky traps to control whiteflies, and sulfur dust to keep spiders at bay.


       


This one is ready to pick
             To pollinate the vegetables, the company buys bumblebees. They live in a box in the greenhouse, and come out during the day to do buzz pollination. Our guide described to us how they harvest the tomatoes when the ends just start to turn red. He showed us how at this point, the inside is already red, as they ripen from the inside out. They use moisture meters to know when the tomatoes need watered. After February, the humidity will be lower and they can prune the tomato plants without the concern of disease. They clean up the bottom of the plant up until the first large branch. The company practices crop rotation, after the tomatoes are all harvested they will plant dutch cucumbers. They purchase all of their seedlings from another great company we toured, Saliplant, but that is another blog…

3 comments:

  1. wow, amazing story. I hope to go to Spain in 2018, so it was doubly interesting. thanks.

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  2. Please let us know about Saliplant too! Your details are golden info.

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