Wow!! was my initial reaction on my morning tour. With 11 acres of climate controlled greenhouse and almost the same again in trial gardens, Rakers is truly a wonder to behold. After my watering and moisture management training which is very good, it was straight to work on as an official legal alien.
Happy to be in the grow team My weeks activities included watering edges with the Wander Wand!! feeding benches, inserting feed sticks, mixing up fertiliser, fixing irrigation equipment, performing water quality checks and helping with crop walk rounds.
A description of the floor layout might better help the readers understanding; the site is split into three main areas of grow space along several main laterals. The West (+ far west), The East (+ Far East) and the Amazon(+ukon). around these areas is the shipping, start facilities and the propagation house.
The management of the grow team is a little different from what I am used to, Firstly there are several levels of growers, a new grower – basic and advanced, they all fall under three sectional leaders one for each area and a head grower oversees all processes. the nursery has three pesticide mixing areas and two chemical cupboards.
The process has been designed so that anyone of the street can be easily trained to become a grower, using on site training together with PowerPoint’s and educational videos. Strict laws dictate several REI rentry intervals for each product which must be marked by application plaquards.
Currently moving into the fall there are still pansies being sown and a variety of primroses. the poinsettias are currently in the transplant stage moving from a 51 (102) elegaurd strip into a 2 litre pot.
The grow team is also responsible for looking after the Trial area, mostly encompassing watering/feeding the trial beds whilst fixing irrigation. Several watercarts are used a 1000 gallon and a smaller 250 gallon, the larger one allows for in situ chemical mixing and fertirigation.
For a couple of days I shadowed the IPM manager and introduced to some new bugs. The Japanese beetle is a big problem with all vents protected with inset mesh and double doors to prevent there entry. As Rakers ship internationally on a regular basis ( to Bermuda and Hawaii), the plant inspector appears weekly to ensure compliance with all protocols. Every Pesticide and Biological applied to an order is noted and used to compile a report sent to the customer with there trays, so they know what happened at every step of the process. Several viruses can cause problems INSV and TMV, all tools and hands are disinfected using powdered milk as well as sanitizer. To identify a virus sampling kits are used.