Could your pots, trays and other plant containers, such as baskets and bulb bowls, be doing more to help you increase your profit? Every year dozens of new sizes, shapes and formats are introduced, some in new materials and new colours. It is worth taking a look at what is new - there may be something that could help you increase production and increase your sales. Perhaps you could fit more pots per acre or stow more in the lorry for delivery.
At the Four Oaks Trade Show in September last year, Modiform took the professional product award for its Universal Bedding Pack. A redesigned version of an old classic, the pack now fits 20 to a single trolley shelf instead of 18, so reducing transport costs. It also means 5,000 more packs per acre - 30,000 more plants when six-packs are used - so increasing your production capacity.
The Universal is made of a new plastics material, making the tray more robust than the previous Classic. Yet this latest unit is still priced in the "budget" range. The packs are available with four, six, nine or 12 cells.
Poppelmann has added a new 5.5cm cultivation pot to its MXC series, which previously started at 9cm and ran up to 14cm. Knowing that the best use of growing space only works if cultivation success is maintained, the company has designed the MXC series with the aim of perfecting irrigation and drainage.
To this end, the pots have a multi-hole profile on their bottoms and come in highly opaque colours to prevent light penetrating the pot walls. In addition, there are no internal stacking ridges, which Poppelmann says allows roots to grow undisturbed. Instead of internal stacking ridges the pots have feet below the bottom to give stability and a pronounced rim, both aspects making the pots suitable for de-nesting in the potting machine and for handling with pot forks.
Growers looking to boost green credentials should note that development continues in making pots from recycled materials other than plastics and in producing environmentally friendly materials.
Seen last autumn, Modiform's ECO-EXPERT 100 is the product of close collaboration with Cullen Packaging and is said to offer a sustainable and responsible solution to meet the challenges and demands of the contemporary market. Described as 100% recyclable and biodegradable, the series is made from moulded paper/cardboard pulp and is offered in plant pots as well as carry and transport trays.
In addition, Modiform has teamed up with Sungro of Denmark to offer a new 100% biodegradable paper-pot paper. For use in combination with paper-pot machines, the paper is completely free of fossil oils and can be formed into a pot without glue. The paper has been developed to disappear into the soil and leave no residue.
Green Products: evenly fills pots with growing media to meet growers’ requirements - image: HW
Cigar industry technology
More paper pots are available from Green Products, now supplied in the UK by PG Horticulture. The company uses technology from the cigar industry and evenly fills the pots with growing media to meet growers' specific requirements. So as not to fill the pores with dust particles, the paper wrap is applied around the growing media instead of being sucked into the plug.
The paper used is permeable, allowing the roots to develop over the length of the plug, which can be from as small as 8mm up to 28mm in diameter and in various depths. Larger 35mm and 40mm plugs can be supplied on request.
Another recently introduced degradable product is R2 from Jiffy Products. With peat and wood pulp as its main ingredients, it boasts most of the original Jiffypot characteristics but will keep dry even if exposed to water or humid substrate. The dryness of the container persists for a period depending on the ambient humidity, irrigation, substrate and temperature. It maintains its rigid form and clean surface long enough for the production of herbs, bedding plants and other subjects that can be sold in a 100% biodegradable container. R2 is said to offer "degradable durability".
Soparco is also focusing its efforts on lightweight packaging and using recycled materials such as wood and cardboard. It is working on thin-walled pots and developing thermoformed product lines as well as using plastic materials made of 85% or more recycled waste. New products from Soparco include the NJ hanging basket, offered in 13 bright and trendy colours. With an elegant design and glossy, easy-to-clean surface, the polypropylene baskets are available with 25cm or 27cm diameters and have quick-fixing 45cm-long hangers.
For nursery stock growers, the Root Pouch (pictured left) is a new fabric container, complete with lifting handles and made from recycled water bottles. It is available in degradable and non-degradable versions and is designed to create a dense, healthy, fibrous root system without spiralling. The containers are available in a wide variety of colours and in sizes from 3.8 up to 2,271 litres. Degradable versions can be specified with an expected lifespan ranging from 12-15 months and up to four-to-five years.
At the IPM Essen trade show earlier this year, Poppelmann presented its solutions that deliver added value and other ideas aimed at providing growers with products that can successfully self-market plants. The company designs and manufactures pots, trays and containers for the entire plant production chain - from propagation through to cultivation, growing-on, marketing and transport.
Poppelmann's recent development work includes the TCA 27C+ hanging basket - a basket with two water overflows that combines with the MZP 15 sealing plug to allow the volume of the water reservoir to be varied between 150ml and 1.5 litres. The smaller reservoir is suited to the cultivation phase, while the larger ensures water supply during transport, storage, display and sale, before then benefitting the consumer with reduced watering requirements.
Visitors at IPM Essen were also able to see Poppelmann's expanded MDF Coverpot series. Coverpots are produced with the in-mould labelling process, meaning the label is attached to the pot during moulding, making them inseparable and creating attractive eye-catching pots that draw extra attention in the sales environment and present a gift idea for special occasions.
The series is available ex-stock in various designs - minimum order of one box - and now extra designs are available in 7cm, 9cm and 11cm diameters. The inner rim of the pot is used to create a hollow space between the growing pot and the cover's closed bottom, so providing a water reservoir if required. Add the optional Waterwick stick and the plants are continuously supplied with water.
Poppelmann also offers to develop clients' own label ideas and create bespoke added value for runs of 15,000 Coverpots or more. In addition, with the development of the PT 2556-12 F/8 marketing tray, MDF 12 Coverpots can be displayed.
Specially designed to increase sales opportunities, the Coverpot is visible to potential purchasers thanks to the lower side walls giving a view of the pots. The tray also features equally spaced punched label holders on both sides, enabling automated label attachment.
Fitting precisely into the tray, the pots are held firmly in place for transport. Being 56x25cm, five trays fit per Container Centralen shelf. Each tray has eight holes for 12cm pots, allowing 40 plants to be marketed per Container Centralen shelf. The stable but soft rim of the tray has a polished edge for ease of use and safer handling.
Supporting the young-plant production industry, HerkuPlast has introduced two new strawberry propagation trays for single use. One has 10 holes for 250cc plugs, while the other is a 16-hole mini-tray for 130cc plugs.
HerkuPlast sales manager Alfred Boot says the strawberry tray plant industry has seen a big increase over the past couple of years and the propagation of the plants has become an industry on its own. "The European acreage with protected berry cultivation is on the rise and so too is the demand for propagated strawberry tray plants," he adds.
"Strawberry growers want to produce berries as early as possible and heavily rely on the tray plant starting material. The 250cc plugs are produced as potted fresh plants to be used in August or stored for use in the spring. The smaller 130cc plants have a smaller root system in a smaller pot and are best used in tabletop systems outdoors."
The new strawberry propagation trays are made of a lighter and thinner material, and they can be recycled after use.
Pot, tray and container suppliers to the UK grower market include:
Advance Bunzl 01622 208155
Aeroplas UK 0121 522 3000
Alty's 01772 817216
BHGS 01386 444100
Caledonian Tree Co 01875 835360
Containerwise 01302 722912
Desch Plantpak 01260 279432
East Riding Horticulture 01904 608157
Ellegaard 00 45 7614 7676
Fargo 01903 721591
H Smith Plastics 01268 733088
Hadopots 01684 563338
HerkuPlast 00 31 76 501 7402
JFC Monro 01736 755766
JFH Horticultural Supplies 01270 212726
Jiffy Products UK 0870 366 7930
Kreuwal Plastics 00 31 5468 25757
LBS Horticulture 01282 873333
Lows of Dundee 01382 229251
LS Systems 01772 812484
Modiform 00 31 33 434 3166
PG Horticulture 01327 828373
Poppelmann 00 49 4442 982 3900
Royal Brinkman UK 01482 842123
Soparco 00 33 23 373 3011
Square Root Horticulture 0114 236 9618
The Stewart Co 020 3657 5230
Styropack UK 01254 885946
Tildenet 0117 966 9684.