Minnesota-based T.O. Plastics also offers products for the expanding cannabis, hemp and microgreens markets
CLEARWATER, MINN. – T.O. Plastics, a leading thermoformer for the horticulture industry, is unveiling its products suitable for the cannabis, hemp and microgreens markets, as well as its Customer Design Center services for all horticulture applications.
“The horticulture industry is very familiar with our product catalog where people can order our standard line of products,” said Amber Laudenbach, T.O. Plastics’ marketing manager. “But we also offer custom services to meet customers’ specific container needs.”
The Customer Design Center approach comprises four phases:
The design and discover phase may include an on-site workshop or meetings with T.O. Plastics engineers to ascertain the customer’s specific product needs, as well as the number of units required and launch date. They also will look at how the new product will fit into the customer’s overall production process to see if any efficiencies or improvements can be achieved, Laudenbach said.
“We have the resources to make their product idea come to life and explore ideas on how to create the most time- and cost-efficient solution,” she said.
The thermoformer’s 2 quart, 5.5’’ Innovative Growing System is an example of a customer idea that T.O. Plastics has marketed to a wider audience, Laudenbach said.
“The customer originally wanted a durable tray to use with their automation system, so this product also exemplifies the industry’s growing interest in automation,” she said, noting that the need for greater automation is one of the most frequent concerns T.O. Plastics hears.
After collaborating on the design with the customer, T.O. Plastics provides a prototype for testing purposes and continues to work with the customer to ensure the final product will meet their needs.
At that point, the project moves into production and is deployed to the customer and the wider horticulture market.Pots & Trays for the Cannabis, Hemp & Microgreens Markets
T.O. Plastics also is deploying its existing product line to meet the specific needs of the cannabis, hemp and microgreens markets.
“We have a traditional background in the horticulture and agriculture markets that matches well with the needs of this quickly growing industry,” said Noel Yan, T.O. Plastics’ Southwest regional manager. “This is a crossover opportunity that we’ve identified and continue to develop.”
The company is specializing in the beginning stages of propagation for these markets, Laudenbach said. “We understand the importance of a safe and healthy environment for root development from sowing to transplant.”
“Our trays assist in faster, more reliable propagation,” Laudenbach said. “Ventilation holes allow air flow within the crop canopy to help prevent diseases, maintain consistency in temperature and humidity in the microclimates between cells, and overall increase plant growth.”
The company’s products provide the necessary drainage to reduce moisture and the threat of disease, while still maintaining the necessary amount of water for root growth. “They keep the roots from drying out,” Laudenbach said.
They also foster the downward root growth habit that allows plants to root out more quickly.
The v-shaped walls between plant cells in T.O. Plastics’ star plug trays also provide useful advantages for the cannabis, hemp and microgreens markets, Yan said. The shape of the walls allows for plants to be transplanted with less root damage.
“Because there’s less degradation, our products improve the transplant success rate, increase yields after transplant and shorten crop times,” he said. Faster crop development is important to growers because it means less labor and fewer chemicals are required to get plants to market.
Benefits of Plastic
The company’s plastic pots and trays offer significant advantages over products made of other materials, Laudenbach said.
“The improved strength and durability allow for longer service life in the field,” she said. “Plastic containers are a popular choice for growers on a budget because they’re less expensive but still provide all of the essentials.”
Plastic trays are easy to handle and transport and make transplanting simple and inexpensive, Laudenbach said.
Another popular benefit is that all T.O. Plastics’ products are 100% recyclable after use, Yan said.
The company’s manufacturing practices also offer important advantages, he said. Because T.O. Plastics manufactures all its products in the United States, their production schedule isn’t affected by trade developments outside of the U.S. “Our products are made here and available here.”
T.O. Plastics’ vertical integration – it produces its own plastic roll stock to use in its products – is another advantage, since the company has full control of every facet of production.
“From beginning to end, we offer a significantly higher-grade quality,” Yan said.