Most crops benefit greatly from what Stuppy Greenhouse Regional Account Manager Armando Echavarria calls “warm feet and a cool head.” This means heating soil at the root zone, which promotes seed germination and accelerates rooting and growth in young plants.
Stuppy, a national greenhouse manufacturing company headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, designed its Heat2O™ Hydronic Heat product line with higher yields and profits in mind. The system passes heated water through EPDM synthetic rubber tubing that runs along the bench top. With pots, flats and containers sitting directly on the tubing, plant roots receive direct, evenly distributed radiant heat from the warm tubes.
“It’s a very efficient way of targeting the root zone, which likes to be a little bit warmer,” says Echavarria, whose sales coverage area includes California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. “Using a conventional heater, you’re fighting physics trying to bring a large mass of warm air down to the ground. Root heating starts from the bottom up, so you’re using a lot less BTUs and getting better results.”
Stuppy’s in-house hydronic bench heat surrounds plants like an envelope, resulting in better nutrient uptake and root development. Bench heat is most frequently used for seed germination and plug production, but it is also used in small container production. Considering the improved growth rates provided by the system, smaller growers are able to do more with limited square footage, Echavarria notes.
“We have a greenhouse grapevine grower who had trouble keeping up with demand, but couldn’t expand beyond his current square footage,” he says. “Hydronic heat allowed him one or two extra turns.”
Stuppy operates within the North American horticulture market, a portfolio that includes commercial growers, nurseries, vegetable and citrus growers and hemp. While hydronic heat — commonly referred to as “bottom heat” — is not new, Stuppy’s home-grown product is designed and manufactured to spec for individual grower needs, Echavarria says.
“When you work with us to customize your greenhouse, we are also able to recommend a hydronic heating system designed to meet your specific growing needs,” he says.
Stuppy will introduce additions to the Heat2O™ product line in the coming year, including hydronic heating models that harness under-bench aluminum fin and radiant floor tubing, to be unveiled at AmericanHort’s Cultivate’20 show in July. Whether bench, under-bench or floor heating, hydronic heat can transform greenhouse growing, says Echavarria: “In terms of ROI, it’s that quick turnaround [in plant growth]. If you can add 30% to 50% more product in the same amount of time, that’s a huge increase in profit.”