Advanced ways of growing tomatoes are ever expanding in Cummings Valley near Tehachapi. Millennium Pacific Greenhouses is finishing up construction of 15 acres of greenhouse buildings at 26313 Giraudo Road to grow tomatoes on the vine using advanced technology for year-round production.
“Our plan on growing in California and Kern County is for the long term and we know that caring for the environment is critical to ensure the ongoing health and cleanliness of our surroundings here in the beautiful Cummings Valley,” said Michael Pimentel, general manager of Millennium Pacific Greenhouses.
He added that the high elevation, fewer insects compared to other areas, clear skies and cool nights make the area an ideal place to grow produce. The greenhouse structures are designed by KUBO and built by Millennium Pacific Greenhouses.
The plants grown in the greenhouses will use hydroconic irrigation, meaning that only water will grow the produce by a system of fertilizing the water and reusing it.
The tomato vines will grow upward on a series of metal supports maximizing space. Main transports such as picking carts will be connected near the plants to allow workers to harvest and trim the produce, said Pimentel.
A computerized system called Priva helps regulate the controls, water pressure, temperature, fertilizer and how much water is going to the greenhouses, said Pimentel.
The tomatoes are slated to be planted at the beginning of October, with produce ready to go to market sometime in November. These climate-controlled greenhouses are using technology that allows for a six- to eight-week turnaround versus conventional growing at more than three months, added Pimentel.
The Ultra-Clima technology from the greenhouse structure also helps regulate and use minimum energy and water, yield a higher production, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to kubogroup.nl.
Greg Weber, water technical designer for Water Tech, said the water is reused to “save fertilizer, electricity and water costs.” The process allows 40 percent of the water to be reused.
There are two main tanks that fill up with water: one is water waiting to be cleaned by at least two processes, including an ultraviolet filter, and the other tank stores clean water waiting to be used.
Fertilizer is then added to the water as it goes out to the greenhouses.
“As it's irrigating it is measuring the amount of fertilizer and the computer controls the amount,” Weber said.
In order to regulate the inside greenhouse temperature, hot water is pumped continually through pipes to reach the desired temperature. High-powered fans at the end of each section also regulate the heat.
If it's bright and sunny, plants are breathing carbon dioxide, so hot water that the boilers have generated is stored in a huge metal tank outside the buildings for future use, said Weber.
The acreage doesn’t just have greenhouses, it also includes a cold storage, water filtration section, maintenance area, loading dock and broiler room.
The produce may be sent to major retailers such as Costco, Safeway, Albertsons and other stores, said Pimentel.
For more information, go to millenniumpacific.com.