The temperature is a chilly 35 degrees Fahrenheit, but the fragrance is intoxicating. Orlando, Chantelle and Rosita Vendela varieties give it their all. Here in the cold storage at Len Busch Roses in Plymouth, Minnesota, roses are waiting to be transported to customers. Minnesota is perhaps the last place you'd expect to grow roses, not exactly famous for its moderate climate.
Len Busch Roses is the only large-scale rose grower in the USA outside of California, a position the company fully intends to keep. "Our strengths are quality and freshness," says Managing Director Patrick Busch. That is obviously the right strategy, for the rose grower from the far north is asserting himself with success against the competition.
The flowers are sold within a radius of 300 miles, which means they are still fresh on arrival at florists' stores and therefore keep well. On the other hand, Busch can also offer competitive prices due to the energy savings he achieves by using ACRYLITE® Resist high impact acrylic double-skin. Since 1981, all the greenhouses at Len Busch Roses have been glazed with ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin, now covering a total area of 15 acres or 500,000 square feet. The material offers significant savings as compared with glass: "We have halved our energy costs," Busch says. The savings are due to the material's heat-insulating properties. A double-skin sheet consists of two skins connected top and bottom by a number of ribs. The resulting air cavities act as an insulating layer, because the static air in the cavities is a poor heat conductor as compared with solid material. The co-efficient heat transfer index, or U-value, states how effective this insulation is. The lower the U-value, the better the heat insulation.
Patrick Busch sees further benefits: "The material requires very little maintenance and is resistant to hail. That is very important in this region with its frequent hailstorms." The light transmission is another vital factor and was a further criterion for using ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin. "Roses more than many other flowers need plenty of light for optimum growth, but tulips, gerbera and lilies also flourish in bright conditions."
According to a gardener’s rule, one percent more light means one percent more growth. That is why glazing should have a light transmission of at least 85 percent. ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin transmits 86 percent of direct light, roughly the same percentage as single glazing.
The guiding principle at Len Busch Roses has always been to offer customers the best possible product, and innovations have always driven the company's success. Patrick's father, Len, was known for his creativity, and never stopped looking for innovative ways to cut costs and boost productivity. In 1974, he installed a wood-fired boiler that provided hot water to heat the greenhouses. In 1984, he was one of the first to computerize his greenhouse operation.
His heirs in the fourth generation have maintained this tradition. Although the heating system has been thoroughly modernized, it is still based on the principle of heating water with a wood-fired boiler – an environmentally friendly method because it uses local wood scrap. This makes Busch largely independent of oil and gas prices. He believes this system, combined with ACRYLITE®, equips him to face the future with confidence: "We can plan our costs in advance, not just for supplying our greenhouses with energy. With ACRYLITE® Resist multi-skin, we have opted for a material that is sustainable because of its long service life and does not need to be replaced, unlike other materials."
Location: Plymouth, Minnesota
Fabricator: Len Busch