mattwelke
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:52 am

How to Grow Wheatgrass Largescale Commercially?

Hello! I have been growing wheatgrass and juicing for a few years for myself. I got approached by someone who just got a Government grant to start a wheatgrass juice company and needs a commercial supplier for their needs. I hae decided to transform my 2 car detached garage into my operation. I live in Canada and have harsh winters. I wish to outlay my plans and a few obsticals i hope to overcome. Here it is.

Garage has no power and not insulated. I will begin by running a power connector to a fuze box to the garage and layering it with insulation. There is also no running water or drainage.

I plan to grow wheat grass in a vertical shelving system. I have a seed, soil and tray supplier. Cost to grow a tray will be approx $2.50.

I have shelves that are approx 4 feet across so I can fit 4 trays on each shelf. I do need lighting advice!

Water: Since I don't have any drainage, i am thinking the best system would be to have buckets below each stack of wheat grass trays and have a small water pump, pump water to the top and then it can drip downward through the bottom of the holes to the following trays cycling around and around. Should I be concerned about mould?

Heat: i will purchase a electric heater to heat the garage in the winter. I believe optimal temp for wheat grass is approx 19.5 degrees Celsius.

CO2: Should i use a co2 fan to pump cold air in, or a CO2 generator? How do they work?

Fans: Should I purchase a few ceiling fans to circulate air? or what would be the best system?

Lights: I feel i should for sure go with LED due to the cost savings. I feel the best would be to get a LED tube to cover each set of 4 trays. Im looking for some suggestions. I found this option on Ebay. What do you guys think?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/25Pack-4Ft-pink ... RK:MESE:IT
25 of them for about $300 usd seems pretty reasonable but is this a good option?

Anything else I need to consider?

Thanks so much in advance for reading and I hope you can help me with what I need.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27657
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: How to Grow Wheatgrass Largescale Commercially?

That's a pretty big step! What is your current set up like and do you feel confident in translating it to the new big operation?
It seems to me that LED lighting is still pretty costly initial outlay compared to fluorescent and many report insufficient luminance levels, so I'm not sure that used/second hand/ older tech will save you anything in the long-run. If you have the funds, better to go with the latest brightest output IMHO.

Watering system you describe will grow them, but since the wheatgrass will be JUICED raw, I would definitely be concerned about CLEAN portable/drinking water as water source. At the very least, run the drained water through a biological filter before recycling it. Maybe look into backwoods passive water filtering solutions. If you are in Canada, I would imagine there should be a way to make use of all that snow in the winter...?

What is your own experience with growing the wheatgrass? I haven't grown them for juicing before, but when I was growing some for my cats, I found the sprouting seeds got mo(u)ldy easily. That would definitely suggest they need good air circulation?

You didn't mention it but subsectioning in the garage space just for the growing area would save on heating. Lower the ceiling, too. How elaborate would depend on severity of the temperature. My own unheated 1/2 insulated garage gets down to mid-20's°F in the depth of winter here and can dip below in the worst/lowest temp nights - especially in the uninsulated 1/2 - to kill overwintering plants that can survive the upper 20's unless I tent and cover them with plastic sheeting and garden fleece.

...are you growing winter wheat? hard red?
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

mattwelke
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:52 am

Re: How to Grow Wheatgrass Largescale Commercially?

Hello, thank you for your reply!

Thanks for the great suggestion for the water filter idea. Yes mould will quickly grow on wheatgrass in stagnet air conditions so thats why i am asking about fan circulation questions. Celing fans? or perhaps like 4 industerial type fans one in each corner blowing the air in a circular type formation? What do other people usually use?

Also great idea about lowering the ceiling, Maybe I should drywall the roof and walls after insulation. Im a bit concerned about moisture levels. Will this induce mold and rotting as my garage is wood. Its a big step up as I currently just grow 11 trays outside in my backyard with great success though, so this is an entirely new operation so looking that will begin in about 2-3 weeks so I am looking for all i need in the planning and research phase and doing the setup. I want to start off with about 100 trays and then scale up from there as the operation grows.

mattwelke
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 3:52 am

Re: How to Grow Wheatgrass Largescale Commercially?

I am now considering using a single 4 ft T5 bulb over 4 wheat grass trays. will one of these lights be enough for 4 wheatgrass trays?

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: How to Grow Wheatgrass Largescale Commercially?

I think you are right to go with fluorescents. I and a number of others around here have had trouble with the LED's.

But no a single tube will not be enough for four trays (these are the regular 10x20" trays?) What I use for a shelf system like that is a four tube fixture:

Image

two would be absolute minimum and at that you will have to keep rotating trays because the plants on the outer edges will keep leaning in.

I don't believe there is any reason to add CO2. Your garage even if insulated, will never be airtight enough to exclude all fresh air from coming in. So if your plants are managing to deplete CO2 levels a bit, it will be replenished by fresh air. CO2 added only makes a difference after everything else is optimized (water, nutes, light, temperature, humidity, medium, container, ph, etc). Otherwise the difference made by any of the other things being off way outweighs the difference from minor variations in CO2.

I think some very small personal fans right near the plants and blowing at them would be a lot more helpful than ceiling fans.

This is a small rechargeable fan about 5.5" wide:
Image
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Return to “Greenhouse Forum”