Even the most structurally sound greenhouses can face damage during a blizzard, which is why your business should be prepared this winter. Read the below tips for the best ways to protect your greenhouse from dangerous snow loads.
Make sure your environmental control systems are functioning property. This article from Greenhouse Management, “Check your environmental control systems before winter,” has excellent information on making sure your environmental control systems are functioning properly and several tips on improving efficiency that will assist you in reducing fuel consumption.
Start heating your greenhouse before the snow starts. Give the greenhouse time to heat up the cladding, so that once the snow starts, melting can take place. Starting the heat once a snow load is on the structure can sometimes do more harm than good. Hortica requires policyholders to begin heating the greenhouse at least 48 hours before the snow event.
Heat smart. Open shade/energy curtains to allow the heat to get to the covering and/or gutter. Deflate poly on structures clad with double poly to allow the heat to transfer between the bottom and top layer. When deflating poly, be aware of pocketing of snow and water. If safe to do so, push the snow/water out of the pocket to alleviate the load.
Minimal requirements for heat in your insurance policy are not always adequate for good melt. Higher temperatures might be needed.
Identify structures on your property that are susceptible to snow collapse (low profile, snow traps, etc.). Devise a plan to keep the snow off these greenhouses or areas.
Inspect your structures and perform preventative maintenance.
Consider dedicated heating of the gutter line (if applicable).
Keep alleys between greenhouses clear. Weight is not only a factor on the roofs of the greenhouses.
Stay safe. If you plan to manually remove snow from your greenhouses, be aware of your surroundings.
Helpful items to have on property:
- Lumber of adequate lengths to brace structures and complete temporary repairs.
- Extra poly for temporary repairs. In case you do have a failure of a structure or the cladding, having this on had could allow you to maintain heat in remaining structures saving your crop and other structures.
- Torpedo heaters. Be mindful of clearance/fire hazards and the effects of the exhaust on crop.
- Brooms to help push snow off of poly structures without damaging the cladding.