Born and raised in the Westland area of the Netherlands, I have always considered the modern greenhouse business very interesting.
I remember my first encounter with the commerce of the greenhouse business still as a vague memory, but it was then that I considered the interesting part of it. I tagged along with my dad to get new containers from the flower auction, today it is called “Royal Flower Holland” in those days it was a small auction cooperative for the cut flower growers in the Westland area of the Netherlands.
After getting the containers with the van, we went to our mailbox to collect the auction papers, in this you were able to see the sales prices at which the flowers where sold against.
I remember a bit of the discussion, I was not even in my teens yet, but on the way back we talked about it to find out how much you could make from growing flowers and whether it was a good thing to bring your flowers to the auction. Flower-shop owners and traders went in the early morning to collect the flowers or plants for that day and when it was your turn that your flowers where in front of the auction clock, you either had a larger income or a lower income. Was it fair? I don’t know, what I did know was that we earned money that day.
Commercial greenhouses growing flowers, vegetables and all other fruits, potted plants etc. need to be commercial viable in order to return their investment.
In the early days I had no idea on all the ins and outs of the business. Income was just one end of the bargain, but what about the costs to grow those lovely flowers?
As a consultant I have made numerous different studies to find out the economic feasibility of the greenhouse operation. There are quite a few things that stand out. The first is the income, important enough… but second is the number of yield, be it in pieces or in kilograms. Third is the timing on the market, when the market is flooded already it is difficult as the prices are may be too low.
The majority of the greenhouse production is perishable, in other words when they are ripe you have to harvest and get it to the market… and that is where the interesting parts start. How much control can a grower have over the greenhouse crop. How much can he steer the plant for production to either “hold on” or to speed up the production, or even produce when it is physically not possible. In the winter season it was considered not possible to grow any fruiting vegetables and even roses where not blooming during the dark days of the year.
Today many growers look for the fine balance in adding artificial light to the plants, in many cases this seems to be a good investment both in operational cost as in the investment of the artificial lights as the prices of the vegetables are much higher than when the vegetables are “in season”.
Some vegetables varieties require a lot of manual work or many hours of labor need to be put in to I to obtain a good produce.
When labor force is expensive like in western Europe, you will find highly automated greenhouse farms that are completely robotized to minimized cost of labor. In other cases the manual work might be done by robots as the work is either very precise or tedious that it is difficult to have it done by man power.
Growing in season or out of season, it might cost energy to either heat the greenhouse crops or cool the greenhouse crops and again the economics should be paying off.
We at DutchGreenhouses have made a model in which we can compute the various parameters into a work sheet that allows us to select the various options by which we determine whether the greenhouse will be commercial viable and what kind of tools should either be omitted or be installed.
In many cases the greenhouse should be returned within a number years, but what if the greenhouse lasts for over three decades what will that do to a family greenhouse business.
It provides enormous freedom and opportunities.
Getting started in the commercial business is quite an endeavor and many things should be considered, we at DutchGreenhouses™ will assist you where possible to find the right solution for you.
We have developed standardized modules of greenhouse dimensions that can help you start your business.