Photo: Julie Gilbert

Every structure choice has the potential to affect your company positively or negatively. The type of greenhouse you choose is always dependent on your crop, how you like to grow and which environment is best for growing your plants. Another major variable is your budget, as this investment can be costly.

All structures can be a good selection, so long as all environmental factors have been figured in. If not calculated properly, picking the wrong structure for your crop and region may lead to crop loss, and all your efforts and investments will be a disappointment. A poor structure decision can be a pain for larger growers, but will inevitably cause serious financial setbacks for smaller growers.

Therefore, to pick the best option, you’ll want to conduct your own research by gathering expertise from either your own previous experience, other seasoned growers and/or a greenhouse consultant. Do your own research by asking around, attending trade shows and consulting with a greenhouse builder. Builders are great resources who will provide you educated opinions, as they are the ones putting these items together.

In the past, greenhouse growers used wooden structures, but nowadays, wood material is a relic. Today, we have many more choices. For commercial growers, these choices are usually a greenhouse structure made of aluminum or steel.

Aluminum

Let’s evaluate aluminum first. Aluminum structures let in lots of light, and you can add other structural components later with relative ease. The biggest benefit of aluminum is that it does not rust — you won’t have to worry about deterioration with this structure.

Photo: Julie Gilbert

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In regard to construction and labor, aluminum is costlier, as it is a more flexible material that calls for larger structural member size, more drilling, extrusions and rivets in comparison to a steel structure.

You can choose poly, polycarbonate or glass for coverings. This greenhouse has one of the nicest looks around, and will remain beautiful and shiny for years.

Steel

Most commercial growers are accustomed to purchasing a steel structure. Steel is generally cheaper. Galvanization is a must to prevent rust formation, which can slowly deteriorate your greenhouse. This is a faster build labor-wise, so long as you choose a proper greenhouse builder. This structure allows for more natural light because it has less extrusions. You may also choose poly, polycarbonate or glass coverings for this structure.

Julie is the director of G&V Greenhouse Solutions, a greenhouse builder servicing the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. juliegvconstruction@gmail.com

John W. Bartok, Jr. also contributed to this article. John is an author, consultant and certified technical service provider doing greenhouse energy audits for USDA grant programs in New England. jbartok@rcn.com