MOREHEAD, Ky., Sept. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — AppHarvest, Inc., a sustainable food company, public benefit corporation and Certified B Corp building some of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms to grow affordable, nutritious fruits and vegetables at scale while providing good jobs in Appalachia, today announced it has completed calibration of its “touchless growing system” for salad greens at its 15-acre Berea, Ky., indoor farm by having successfully grown more than 20 varieties of lettuce and is approximately 80% complete with planting of its 30-acre AppHarvest Somerset Farm, which has the capacity to grow about 1 million strawberry plants.
The company’s 60-acre flagship farm in Morehead, Ky., is expected to start harvesting its third season of tomatoes mid-fourth quarter.
“With a laser-like focus on core operations, the AppHarvest team across the board is delivering on its commitment to complete the largest controlled environment agriculture build-out in U.S. history this year,” said AppHarvest Chief Operating Officer Julie Nelson. “We literally expect to reap the fruits of our labor starting in the fourth quarter.”
The AppHarvest Berea Farm is expected to be the world’s largest high-tech farm for autonomously harvested salad greens with the latest “touchless growing system” by Green Automation. The hands-off system helps to improve both food safety and efficiency.
To calibrate the touchless growing system, the company has successfully grown more than 20 types of salad greens, which go from seed to maturity in about three to four weeks depending on variety. AppHarvest expects commercial shipments from the Berea facility to start in the fourth quarter.
The AppHarvest Berea growing environment leverages sunshine and rainwater and is automated for lighting, humidity and temperature. The farm uses a closed-loop irrigation system, which enables expected water savings of up to 90 percent compared to open-field farming and allows for precision dosing of nutrients, resulting in far less use of fertilizer compared to open-field farming while avoiding pollution from agricultural runoff.
The AppHarvest Berea farm also employs integrated pest management—using good bugs to take care of bad bugs and early detection and prevention—to avoid the use of harsh chemical pesticides.
The AppHarvest Somerset Farm is expected primarily to grow strawberries and is expected seasonally to grow cucumbers. The AppHarvest Somerset farm also uses sunshine, boosted with a hybrid LED lighting array when needed, and rainwater in a closed-loop irrigation system.
AppHarvest also continues construction on its 60-acre Richmond, Ky. farm, which will double the company’s capacity to grow tomatoes. Combined with the Morehead farm, the Richmond facility is expected to enable the company to grow about 1.5 million tomato plants per season that continuously produce for more than 10 months of the year. The AppHarvest Richmond farm is expected to start producing before the end of 2022.
AppHarvest currently sells to the top 25 national grocery store outlets as well as to select restaurants and foodservice providers through its distribution partner, Mastronardi Produce.
AppHarvest is a sustainable food company in Appalachia developing and operating some of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms with robotics and artificial intelligence to build a reliable, climate-resilient food system. AppHarvest’s farms are designed to grow produce using sunshine, rainwater and up to 90% less water than open-field growing, all while producing yields up to 30 times that of traditional agriculture and preventing pollution from agricultural runoff. AppHarvest currently operates its flagship farm – about the size of 50 football fields – in Morehead, Ky., producing tomatoes. The company is developing a network of farms to produce a variety of vine crops, salad greens and berries with three more farms currently under construction that are expected to be operational by the end of 2022. For more information, visit https://www.appharvest.com/.