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Feb 02

Heavy Snowfall Tips for Greenhouse Owners

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There are a few things to watch out for in winter weather that should always be on a greenhouse growers mind. Underestimating a snow storm can be detrimental if no precautions are taken beforehand. A few things to watch out for are listed below.

Heavy Snow Load - Greenhouse

Watching the weather pattern, making sure adequate heating is in place for snow melt in case of a snow storm, and in extreme scenarios, having the right tools standing by to combat a heavy snowfall sitting on top of your greenhouse, if it is accumulating. Of course it is not ideal to fire the heat on when there is no snow falling. But it is a fine line, as it becomes critical to fire on the heat early enough, amidst a snow storm moving in. If the roof does not have enough time to get hot enough, snow melt will not start fast enough, leaving the snow to pile up on the roof. Heat has an easier time getting to the snow on a glass roof. It doesn’t have 2 layers to work through for melting to begin. On a double poly roof, it is actually critical that the inflation gets deflated before the snow begins piling up. This will allow the heat warming up the inside layer to touch the outside layer of poly as well, which will create the snow melt on the roof. Other tricks growers have used is using electrical heating wire in the gutters for snow melt, or bringing in propane fired space heaters for the winter season only. The important thing is that no greenhouse is without a “heating plan” in a massive snow storm, and every greenhouse is equipped with some sort of heating system.

Heavy Snow Load - Poly Greenhouse

If it is undesirable to be running heat for many weeks in winter, the best option is to simply remove the poly on the roof before the snow sets in. Leave the greenhouse as a skeleton frame over the winter season. This way the snow will fall right through to the ground. But for growers with a lot of infrastructure inside the greenhouse, this is not a feasible option. In a gutter-connected greenhouse, whether glass or double poly, it is a good option to make the extra investment with the greenhouse purchase, and consider under gutter beams/trusses or extra support where the snow load will be most damaging. But this is only to give the grower piece of mind in case a storm sets in quickly, and snow is piling up on the roof. It does not mean you don’t need a heating system in your greenhouse.

Important things to remember.

  1. Have a heating plan in your greenhouse.
  2. Deflate the poly in a plastic greenhouse before a storm.
  3. Have a backup plan if snow is not melting fast enough off your greenhouse in extreme snowfall.
  4. In emergency scenarios, cut the poly off the roof.

Adam Lagerwerf