“This increased demand for ornamental plugs and liners is strongly related to the pandemic, as consumers are gardening more than ever,” says Marlon Carrera, general manager of Pacific Plug & Liner.
2021 has been an exceptional year for the company as they have already shipped 60% more inventory to date as compared to typical years and is breaking sales records. This increased demand has been experienced across PP&L’s product catalog, but especially for new demand on tropical plants and delphiniums. The company has four exclusive varieties in its Delphinium Delgenius series, including Breezin’, Juliette, Glitzy and Shelby. As Marlon explains, these varieties are highly sought-after due to their signature flowers but compact architecture, making the plants more resistant and attractive.
“We’ve been really successful at promoting our exclusive items, such as our delphiniums. We bought a lot of plant material ahead of time, knowing that these would be in high demand. That has kept us busy even at this time of year,” says Marlon.
The increased demand for plugs and liners has certainly been a welcome event across the horticultural industry, Marlon explains that this has been coupled with challenges including shortage in labor and transportation. The shortage in drivers and refrigerated trucking opportunities can be problematic to product delivery, although Pacific Plug & Liner has managed thus far.
Pacific Plug & Liner produces year-round at its Watsonville, California facility which spans 250,000 square feet of indoor greenhouse. The facility consistently adopts innovative technologies to improve both plant quality and production efficiency. This year, a new irrigation injection system was installed to provide a greater flexibility in irrigating different greenhouse zones with specific fertilizer formulations. The company is also expanding its use of LED lighting, upgrading its sowing machines and irrigation booms, and implementing robotic systems.
“We have always been ahead of others incorporating new technology. We were the first ones to use Growcoon plugs and sticking robots, for example. We are always open to finding the latest technology in the market, especially to increase yields, quality but also for labor efficiencies,” Marlon says.
Pacific Plug & Liner always participates in the California Spring Trials (CAST), a major industry event allowing breeding companies to showcase their exclusivities. Whereas this event typically occurs in the spring, CAST 2021 will occur from June 23rd to 26th and be called the California Summer Trials. Pacific Plug & Liners will be transforming its facility into a showcase and welcoming industry members from June 23rd to 26th by appointment.