A study on the heating of tomato plants grown in greenhouses by an LSU AgCenter scientist is the cover story of the April-June 2008 issue of HortTechnology, a research publication of the American Society for Horticultural Science that has subscribers in 50 countries.
H.Y. Hanna, a professor at the LSU AgCenter’s Red River Research Station
in Bossier City, conducts research on growing greenhouse tomatoes as productively and efficiently as possible. The article is co-authored by Kenneth Henderson, a master repairman at the station.
They found that heating costs can be reduced approximately 43 percent for each pound of tomatoes produced when an interplant precision-heating system they constructed was used. The system delivers the warm air inches away from the root system using diesel fuel rather than blowing the warm air above plant tops from suspended heaters fueled with natural gas.
The photo taken by Hanna on the cover of the journal shows an 8-inch diameter convection tube placed between double rows of tomatoes. The released heated air raises the root media temperature and plant sap temperature to near optimum levels for tomato growth and yield, Hanna said.
Hanna said the system should be considered by smaller growers because of lower initial cost, simplicity, low heating costs and cost-effective tomato production.
"It was less costly to buy and easier to install one heater for about $1,000 at the time of conducting the experiment for the interplant bottom-heated greenhouse than buying and installing two heaters for about $2,000 for the above plant," Hanna said.
Feedback from growers has indicated that bottom-heated greenhouses "are the way to go," said Hanna.
For more information about grow growing greenhouse tomatoes, you may contact Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 741-7430, ext. 1116.
Mary Ann Van Osdell
(This article appeared in the fall 2008 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)