“I think the field/greenhouse balance is stabilizing,” Kling said. “Greenhouses used to be unique. Now they’re over 50% of the industry.”
Efficiency an appeal
Part of that stability has to do with growers gaining mastery over their growing environments.
“They’re grown more efficiently in climates now that were harder in the past,” Kling said.
Another stabilizing factor is a better understanding of greenhouse-grown versus other forms of protected agriculture, such as shade and plastic, Kling said.
“Real hydroponic greenhouses are creating a more stable environment, and better product,” Kling said.
The industry and consumers are more aware that more low-tech versions of protected don’t deliver the consistency and quality of greenhouses, he said.
Growers also are doing a better job of getting the word out that greenhouses use as much as 86% less water than field grown.
Kling emphasizes, however, that when people talk about “field vs. greenhouse,” they shouldn’t see it as a one-winner game.
“Both types of farming meet a need,” he said. “They’re not necessarily stealing from one another.”
Greenhouse, for instance, may be more attractive to many retailers, while field-grown continues to thrive in institutional and other markets, Kling said.