With so many products available on the market, how do you
know which one is right for you? Getting the most for your dollar, especially
with an uncertain economy, is a concern for small and large growers alike.
The Blackmore Puncher/Planter and Tagawa/Ball Punch 'n Grow
System from Blackmore, Belleville, Mich., is an entry-level transplanting
system that allows for high-speed transplanting at an affordable price. Here is
what some growers had to say about it.
Nuts and Bolts
The puncher/planter is manually operated and does not
require electricity. It utilizes special Blackmore plug trays that permit
plug/seedling to be pushed through the bottom of the tray into a variety of
packs. A simple XY indexing grid on the machine is positioned by the operator
to allow an entire flat to be planted when the levers on the machine are pulled
to push the plug into the flat. The puncher/planter is capable of transplanting
more than 500 plugs per hour.
had the system for almost two years, and we have found it to be very
efficient," said Mark Clemmons, head grower and production manager of
Seville Farms, Mansfield, Texas. "We purchased the punching system because
it was a low-cost way to keep a consistent planting depth and spacing without
going to a full automation transplanter." Clemmons said he was a bit wary
of the physical nature of the system that presses the plugs down. But after
Blackmore's demonstration of the product and nearly two years of application,
he was assured and has been very impressed with the quality of the final
product gained out of the punching system.
Efficiency and Labor Reduction. "There is no way for me to describe just how much this machine
has improved our efficiency," explained Adiel Ware, owner of Ware
Greenhouse, Fort Valley, Ga. "It used to take us six days to plant; now we
can do it in two, and that leaves the rest of the week to attend to other
details that we would otherwise leave on the back burner." Ware Greenhouse
has used the system for three years and according to Ware, "It's probably
the best money we've ever spent."
Ware explained that although the system works with smaller plugs,
it does not take extra time to finish. "We are finishing our pansy plugs
in three weeks."
Andy McAllister, owner of McAllister Greenhouses, Indian
Trail, N.C., who mainly uses the machine for pansy production, said the
puncher/planter greatly contributes to labor reduction. "This will be our
second year of using the system, and it has significantly lowered the number of
people I need for transplanting," McAllister said.
Because the puncher/planter is manually operated and does
not require electricity to run, it can be transported to any area of the
greenhouse or transplanting facility. Punch 'n Grow trays are available in many
sizes: 432, 432 narrow, 432 deep, 324, 360 and 243 California. To change the
machine to plant into different trays, a different punch/pin plate can be
installed in minutes. "It is a very compact system, and it only takes 15
minutes to change the line to plant something else," Ware said. "The
system can be used to transplant a wide variety of plants, however, it is not
suitable for begonias."
The puncher/planter only requires general maintenance such
as cleaning and oiling. "Like any piece of equipment, it performs better
if it is kept clean," Clemmons explained.
Blackmore also offers system upgrades such as: power
conveyor, patching conveyor and a semi-automatic puncher/planter. All require
120 VAC but no compressed air. The power conveyor facilitates throughput of
flats through either the manual or semi-auto puncher and allows inline control
of tray filler for optimum efficiency of the planting line.
According to Clemmons, the machine is very versatile and
easy to use. "To sum it all up, this system is a true intermediate step
between manual transplanting line and robotic transplantation," Clemmons
explained. "It can reduce the number of people needed on your production
line, achieve depth and precision placement in the planting system and pacing
to your production line."
Everything you need to know about this product and how it worked for these growers.