Paul Brentlinger President, CropKing

The 2017 growing season is upon us, and with it comes a whole host of new challenges, innovations, and exciting advancements in the hydroponic and controlled environment agriculture industry. Hydroponic vegetable production is an industry which, as a whole, has grown substantially over the past decade and shows no signs of slowing down. To say there is opportunity in this sector is an understatement.

At the center of this growth lies a consumer who has become increasingly aware of the current agricultural practices. The demand for local, fresh, and safe produce has helped cement hydroponic crop production as an integral part of the country’s food systems. This brings along with it a need for skilled growers and the trustworthy suppliers to support them.

Food safety is an issue of paramount importance to the industry and has been a driving force in the public acceptance of greenhouse vegetables. The FDA has reacted to these concerns through the recent enactment of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. This legislation brings with it many challenges and questions. CropKing is working hard with local institutions to help navigate and interpret this new legislation into a form that’s easily understood by our growers. We believe food safety is something all growers should take seriously and are striving to supply assistance to our growers interested in coming under GAP certification and ultimately FSMA compliance.

CropKing has been a key player in the industry for almost 35 years. We have worked hard to develop a very comprehensive package for our customers, ensuring that they not only receive the equipment needed, but the education and support structure required to become a successful grower. We stand firm in our belief that it is important to educate not only potential growers but also consumers, educators, food service employees and extension agents about hydroponic growing. Our two-day Grower School is a great introduction into the world of hydroponics and an important tool for someone considering becoming a hydroponic grower. Additionally, we are working to develop a more in-depth, week-long extended training course. The course will take place on our Lodi, Ohio, growing campus and include a mixture of classroom interaction with our horticulture and technical support team supplemented by “hands-on” time in our 2-bay greenhouse. At the end of the week, the student will walk away with a greater knowledge of the inner workings of a hydroponic greenhouse and a better understanding of the processes involved in growing a successful crop.

CropKing has a long-standing commitment to supporting growers of all shapes and sizes, so this letter on the State of Hydroponic Produce Growing would not be complete without at least mentioning the rapid legalization of cannabis across the U.S. At present, more than half of the states have enacted laws legalizing the production and sale of cannabis in one form or another. With Colorado raking in over $200 million in tax revenue last year alone, we expect even more states will continue to follow suit. CropKing is poised to offer assistance in shaping the licensing process in our home state of Ohio. We are expanding the knowledge base of our own staff to support this market. We have new structures and state-of-the-art equipment especially designed to suit the needs of the cannabis grower and this emerging market.

It is our customers that we want to thank for the success that we have experienced over the past 35 years and we are looking forward with anticipation to the exciting changes that we see in the coming years. The management at CropKing continues to live our dreams of helping to advance the horticulture industry in the United States and we look forward with anticipation to the exciting years ahead.