Behind The Scenes At Jiffy

One advantage Dutch floriculture has over our industry here in the United States is its monocultural focus. Because the auction system is still very much in place, the market allows Dutch growers to focus on particular crops and become true experts on their production. And because growers have mastered particular crops, the quality of their product is arguably better than the quality you’ll find here in the U.S.

Now, that notion isn’t a slight on U.S. growers. Instead, it’s more the result of our polyculture, which forces growers to manage a variety of production systems and become experts on a variety of crops. Just ask yourself how many SKUs your operation manages–the number for some of you might even be in the thousands–and think how much easier your job would be if you weren’t responsible for providing every last variety to your retailers.

This, however, is how greenhouse floriculture in the U.S. is structured. But our fixed structure doesn’t mean growers can’t become true production experts on all their crops. Sure, every crop is grown differently depending on the grower’s production system, but the Jiffy Group is on a mission to understand the many different grower systems (i.e. fertilization, irrigation, etc.) and find specific growing media solutions to improve their production.

Since 2008 when Jiffy acquired Tref, a growing media supplier with peatlands in several European countries, Jiffy has been incorporating Tref’s expertise into its own culture. Now, Jiffy is sourcing peat from both Canada and Europe and blending it for U.S. growers at a new production facility in Macon, Ga. The Tref acquisition brings Jiffy’s number of standard mixes in the U.S. to 20. Jiffy has also developed several custom mixes to meet specific grower needs.

During four days in May, Greenhouse Grower received an exclusive tour of Jiffy’s facilities to see just how Jiffy is bringing its Canadian-European blends to market, as well as get a look at the Tref techniques Jiffy has adopted into its own production.

Greenhouse Grower’s tour began at Jiffy’s facility in Macon, where the company is mimicking Tref’s technology. We also visited Jiffy’s production facility and transshipment terminal in Moerdijk, Holland. And we hopped on a plane to Estonia, where we got a glimpse of two Jiffy peatlands, a second production facility and a shipping terminal.

Jiffy’s Macon Plant

Jiffy began full-scale production in Macon back in January, and it started to build equipment for its facility about six months before that. The company actually shares the facility with the Ferry-Morse Seed Company, which has two packaging lines of its own in Macon for garden center products. The fact Ferry-Morse already had a presence in Macon made Jiffy’s transition there a smooth one.

Plant Manager Leona Wilson explained how Jiffy receives its peat in Macon from both Canada and Europe in compressed bales.

“After we receive the peat in compressed bales, we run it through our peat breaker, which essentially fluffs the peat up,” Wilson says. “We add a little bit of water in the process and then store it in different positions in the facility. When ready, we load that peat into our mix line, relative to whatever production or recipe we’re running.”
Another product Wilson receives in Macon is coir from a Jiffy plant in Sri Lanka. Coir arrives in Macon in compressed 5 kilogram blocks.

“We put coir in a mix because it has the ability to take up so much water and help with rewetting,” says John Bonin, Jiffy’s manager of business development and territory sales for the Northeast U.S.

One issue the coir industry has encountered, Bonin says, is weeds that grow in coir. Jiffy, however, has taken measures to provide a consistently clean coir product from its facility in Sri Lanka by maintaining ISO (International Standardization Organization) and RHP certifications. The RHP quality mark is specific to substrates, and it’s issued by the RHP Foundation, a center that focuses on substrates and soil-improving materials in Europe. All Tref substrates, raw materials and fertilizers in Europe carry the RHP certificate.

But whether or not coir is among the ingredients in a Jiffy mix, all mixes flow along the same production line where items like perlite and lime are added. The peat Jiffy receives in compressed bales is already screened more than once in Canada and Europe, but Jiffy has the ability to screen all material one last time in Macon before the final product is packaged and sent to the grower.

In all, Jiffy provides grower products in three sizes out of Macon: in 60 cubic-foot bulk bags; 2.8 cubic-foot loose-fill bags; and 110 cubic-foot compressed “big bales.”
“We’re mimicking what Tref has in place for us based on their expertise,” Bonin says. “Whether we’re providing a soil that retains more moisture on the bench or a more porous formulation, growers are looking for production solutions. Maybe a grower can save time with a Jiffy Mix solution, perhaps three to four days on a bench.”

A Visit To Moerdijk

Before Jiffy entered the picture, Tref’s goal was to be the growing media leader in all of Europe. Since Jiffy acquired Tref, the company’s goal has grown to be the global product leader in its category. And the global center for Jiffy happens to be in Moerdijk, Netherlands, one of Greenhouse Grower’s next stops on its four-day tour.

Moerdijk, like Macon, acts as a transshipment area where Jiffy receives peat from across Europe, including Germany, Sweden and the Baltic states. But one component Moerdijk features that Macon doesn’t is a port where raw peat is unloaded from vessels, immediately screened and eventually processed and packaged for growers.

European growers have been fortunate over the years to have a wealth of product options from Jiffy. If a European grower wants a white peat, Jiffy can source its peatlands in Sweden. If he wants a darker peat for crops that require extended production, Jiffy can turn to its peatlands in Ireland.

“The history of potting soil and its production started in Holland, so we want to bring that European flavor and our many years of experience in potting soil to the U.S.,” says Roelof Buisman, the manager of Jiffy’s Center of Excellence. “We also want to bring in European raw materials, like European peat coming from the Baltics screened in special fraction sizes.”

In Moerdijk, Jiffy receives all kinds of European peat. Some of it, like the peat sourced from Sweden, arrives on trucks in block form. Other peat, like the kind that arrives from Estonia, is milled and off-loaded from vessels.

And like Macon, Jiffy has the equipment in Moerdijk to compress raw, fractioned peat into bales. Some of those bales are shipped to Macon for processing, but the majority are distributed to growers throughout the Netherlands. Moerdijk also serves as a production facility where Jiffy adds final ingredients on site. And because of Holland’s size, that product can reach the grower as quickly as that same day.

Jiffy also has the ability from Moerdijk to access the controls in Macon if a production problem arises.

“If there’s a problem in Macon, we can access the production line in Moerdijk via our Mix 2000 program,” Buisman says.

Escape To Estonia

After a half day in Moerdijk, we spent the next two days in Estonia. Our first visit was to �äsmäe, the location of one of five Estonian bogs in the northern part of the country. The �äsmäe bog has been harvested since 1989. It features a top layer of white, spongy peat and a larger depth of darker, browner peat underneath.
Jiffy harvests about 4.33 inches of peat per year in �äsmäe. The primary harvesting months are during the dry May, June, July and August, and the steps Jiffy takes to harvest in Estonia are similar to the steps it takes in Canada. Among the keys to harvesting in �äsmäe are:

– Weed management. All weeds must be picked out of the peatlands by hand. RHP quality standards state peat producers cannot treat weeds chemically, so Jiffy’s workers handpick weeds at times when they cannot harvest peat. Equipment can also be used to pull weeds.

– The use of turners. Turners, or “spooners,” sport sharp blades that are pressed 2 to 3 centimeters into the ground to loosen peat for vacuum harvesters.

– Peatland restoration. According to Hele Nimmerfeld, who manages the northern bogs, Estonian peat producers are required to restore lands to their original state. “We rent the land from the state,” Nimmerfeld says. “We have to give it back to the state the way we found it, so you have to close ditches. You want to see forest and some lake, ideally.”

German Black Peat Running Low

Roelof Buisman, manager of Jiffy’s Center Of Excellence, expects black peat from Germany to completely run out in the next five years. So Jiffy’s presence in Estonia is particularly important to find an alternative for the European market.

“Black peat behaves differently than dark Estonian peat,” Buisman says. “But we have to search for an alternative. We have to find a peat that’s a little more sticky for the production of press pots for the vegetable market.”
Jiffy is currently exploring substances that could make Estonian peat act like a black peat. “If you want a solution you have to start research early,” Buisman says. “You have to teach growers how to handle it. They may have to ultimately modify their processes. So it is important to tell the story and make growers aware black peat is running out.

A short drive from �äsmäe is Paldiski, an Estonian port city where raw peat is taken from �äsmäe to be loaded onto vessels. The process can be a time-consuming one. We witnessed a vessel destined for Moerdijk that required a full day to load.

One reason the loading process can be a time-consuming one is because Jiffy needs to ensure the vessel is sterile. Depending on the materials the vessel hauled previously, there’s always the possibility those cargoes could contaminate Jiffy’s peat product.

“Wheat seeds or anything that germinates is a problem,” Buisman says. “So we have to take every precaution we can.”

The last stop on Greenhouse Grower’s Estonian tour was Jiffy’s Trefex production facility in Pärnu, Estonia. Many of the same systems used at Macon and Moerdijk (i.e. Mix 2000 computer system) and equipment (i.e. compressors) were present in Pärnu. The tour was further proof Jiffy truly is modeling all of its facilities–be it Pärnu, Estonia, or Macon, Ga.–after Moerdijk and Tref’s expertise.

“When Jiffy moved into the Baltic area, some people might have had the impression that the Baltics didn’t know what they were doing,” says Karmo Leemet, production facility manager at Trefex. “Now, the product is proving itself. The lead time isn’t two days like it is in the Netherlands, but there are benefits to the product coming out of here, as well.”

Leave a Reply

More From Media...
Vinca 'Valiant Lilac' (2015 Texas A&M University Field Trials)

November 25, 2015

2015 Texas A&M University (Overton, Texas) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton, Texas.

Read More
Capsicum 'Basket of Fire' (2015 University of Georgia Field Trials)

November 25, 2015

2015 University Of Georgia (Athens, Ga.) Field Trials Results

See the 2015 field trials results (includes photo gallery) for the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga.

Read More

November 25, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About the New England GROWS Conference

Held In Boston December 2-4, New England GROWS includes a comprehensive conference program, a trade show, and with six special programs that teach new skills and provide opportunities to network with colleagues.

Read More
Latest Stories
Stockosorb Crystals_with water Agriculture leaf (Evonick)

November 21, 2015

9 Sustainable Growing Media Products For Superior Green…

Manufacturers are delivering new growing media products to help growers attempt to minimize their footprint without sacrificing quality. Here are nine new products to consider for your greenhouse operation.

Read More
PittMoss is an engineered fiber, comprised of recycled newspaper and other natural materials, that has been processed to better hold air and water while delivering nutrients to the plant

November 12, 2015

The Latest Advancements In Growing Media And Soils

From increased automation to new soil amendments and water-saving technologies, media manufacturers offer sustainability-focused solutions to meet growers’ unique needs.

Read More

September 25, 2015

Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association Announces Early…

According to an August 31 survey of members of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA), whose members represent approximately 95 percent of all North American peat production, the peat harvest season has been adequate, but not strong, and could cause shortages and potentially higher transportation costs. Down To The Dirty Details The survey inquired about the status of CSPMA members’ 2015 Actual Harvest (including an estimate of what can be expected to be harvested for the remainder of the season) as a percentage of their 2015 Expected Harvest. The lack of a strong harvest overall may challenge peat availability. The Prairie Provinces (Manitoba 98 percent, Saskatchewan 88 percent and Alberta 94 percent), experienced early favorable weather conditions and a strong start to the year. This helped to minimize periodic, negative, weather-related conditions during the balance of the harvest season, and the harvest numbers are close to achieving the expected amounts. […]

Read More
Bob’s Market and Greenhouses’ Ron Morris pours Stockosorb into the hopper for distribution on the conveyor line

August 13, 2015

How Bob’s Market And Greenhouses Improved Growing…

My father started our company 45 years ago growing bedding plants, mainly early season production and finished plants for our West Virginia market. It was in the early 1980s that we started growing earlier spring production and shipping materials to southern markets, and by the late 1980s, we also produced pansies for fall. We started using hydrogels when they first came on the market in the early 1990s and found that they really helped with our production by keeping plants healthier for these new markets. Over the years, we’ve grown to be a large young plant producer and have a sizable business growing finished plants in cell packs, 4 1/2-inch pots, 6-inch pots, gallon containers, hanging baskets, multiple sizes of large containers and large baskets for municipal use. Creating The Ideal Soil Mix With our old system, it took several workers to mix pre-made soil with slow-release fertilizers in cement […]

Read More

December 2, 2014

Grow-Tech Announces BioStrate, Its Newest Hydroponic Gr…

Grow-Tech LLC recently announced the release of BioStrate Felt, a biobased textile specifically engineered for the growing of hydroponic microgreens and baby salad greens.

Read More

November 18, 2014

7 New Media And Light Products For Greenhouse Productio…

New media and light products cover a broad sweep of growing conditions.

Read More
Oakland Nursery plantings in Columbus_featured

November 17, 2014

Oakland Nursery Simplifies Streetscape Plantings And Ma…

The outdoor decorative containers that Oakland Nursery plants and maintains in downtown Columbus, Ohio, enhance the look of the city’s buildings and streets and hinder vandalism.

Read More

October 27, 2014

Peat Moss May Be In Short Supply This Year

Adverse weather conditions in Canada have played havoc with the peat moss harvest.

Read More

September 24, 2014

Canadian Harvest Of Peat Moss Is Below Average For 2014

The harvest season has been challenging, according to the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA), with lower-than-expected harvest of peat moss across most production regions in Canada, due primarily to adverse weather conditions across the country.

Read More

July 23, 2014

Liming Requirements And pH Modification For Pine Wood C…

In the last of a four-article series highlighting the production and use of pine wood chips as aggregates in greenhouse substrates, the researchers found growers do not need to adjust their production practices when 20 percent pine wood chips are used as a perlite replacement.

Read More

May 14, 2014

How Pine Wood Chips In Substrates Affect Plant Growth R…

This is the second article of the four article series highlighting the production and use of pine wood chips as aggregates in greenhouse substrates.

Read More

April 3, 2014

The Processing And Properties Of Pine Wood Chips

In the first of a four article series highlighting the use of pine wood chips as alternative aggregates to perlite in greenhouse substrates, researchers from North Carolina State University discuss the processing and physical properties of pine wood chips.

Read More

April 3, 2014

Water And Media Are The Foundations Of Your Business: T…

Electrical conductivity (EC) and pH, as well as water alkalinity, have the biggest effects on nutrient availability. Learn how to keep track of them through three common methods for better monitoring in the greenhouse.

Read More
PlugEase from Acme Group

March 3, 2014

Acme Group Introduces PlugEase, A Line Of Recyclable Ag…

The Acme Group recently announced its new line of recyclable Agrifabrics and plant plug substrate, PlugEase. The products make recycling affordable for greenhouse growers, farmers and horticulturalists.

Read More
Emerald Coast Growers

February 26, 2014

Emerald Coast Growers Constructs New Soil Facility

Emerald Coast Growers has constructed a new, consolidated soil mixing facility to increase efficiency and allow for easier custom blending by crop.

Read More
Combination pH and EC meter. Photo courtesy of Hanna Instruments

February 5, 2014

Test Media pH And EC With The 2:1 Technique, Pour-Throu…

Avoid a buildup of soluble salts and create an environment most conducive to nutrient uptake with these three common media testing methods.

Read More
Fertiss Growing Medium from Oasis Grower Solutions

November 18, 2013

Three New Options For Growing Media

From special blends to mycorrhizae, here are some new options for growth media.

Read More

November 14, 2013

Growing Media: To Mix Or Not To Mix

Thinking about making your own growing mixes to lower costs? There are many things to consider before taking the plunge.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]