In previous years, Cultivate was adorned with a vibrant array of lighting suppliers, illuminating the paths with their shiny, bright, and purple displays. However, this year's event presented a noticeable decline in their numbers. This shift doesn't come as a surprise to Chris Higgins from Hort Americas, who attributes it to a decrease in investments and mounting farm failures within the industry.
"The enthusiasm of lighting suppliers seems to have decreased based on their investment, booth presence and attendance at Cultivate23", explains Chris. "Suppliers of hi-tech/ag-technology were noticeably missing at this year's event. But, it's not overly surprising since Cultivate is focused on greenhouse operators and not ag-tech investors." He further highlights the impact of rising interest rates and the challenges faced by the cannabis industry, which have resulted in fewer investors directing their funds toward the horticultural sector. Nonetheless, Chris emphasizes that LEDs continue to play a crucial role in the future of Hort Americas and the support of their client base looking for reliable technology that allows them to either reduce cost or increase yields regardless of the crops they grow.
Hort Americas, a long-time dealer of Current lighting fixtures, unveiled their latest innovation, the Arize Element L2000, at the show. Chris describes this fixture as one of the most efficient grow lights in its class, boasting an output of up to 3600 µmol/s. When used as a replacement for high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights, the Arize Element L2000 can potentially reduce the number of fixtures needed by up to 20%.
Chris predicts that the USA and Canadian markets will be the primary stronghold for the North Carolina, USA-produced fixture. He explains that while Current was absent from European shows, the demand for their products has been stable in North America due to their quality, high efficiency, and extensive warranties, backed by Current itself. "However, we've also seen it's extremely hard for a non-Dutch player to enter the European market. Whether LED grow lights, AI, fertilizers, greenhouse supplies, or anything else used in the greenhouse industry." This has prompted their partner to shift their focus back to North America.
"We are committed to the North American horticulture market. And like anyone who has been in the industry long enough, we have seen the industry excel even through its ups and downs. We believe in the industry, and we know that it will be around for many years to come", Chris says. "There are many great examples of companies thriving in the greenhouse industry, but I have learned over my last 2 decades in the industry that there is no one-size-fits-all in controlled environment agriculture. We have two partners: We have our vendor/technology partners and our grower partners. We are most successful when we listen to the problems the greenhouse operators are facing, then work with our technology partners to solve those problems in a cost-effective, efficient manner that ultimately leads to the success of the greenhouse or farm. One thing we know to be true successful greenhouses and farms are led by operators with proven experience in operational excellence."