Leading Avocado and Macadamia Nursery uses J-7Cs

“We use medical-grade monitoring devices to ensure the health and performance of our micro trees,” says Mark Hassenkamp, CEO of RedSun Hortitech. “Even after they’ve been planted in our customers’ fields.”

RedSun exports half a million avocado and macadamia trees a year from its HQ in the tropical northeast of South Africa. Here, we talk exclusively to Mark about the groundbreaking agritech methods and customer support levels that have transformed the SGASA-accredited operation into a global top-10 avocado and macadamia nursery.

Jiffy-7Cs make the process affordable and predictable

“Quality is the start and end point because it allows us to establish a price,” says Mark. “Customers know we’ve done all the hard work in terms of genetics, nutrition, and treatment. And our ‘perfect plants – on time’ promise drives us to meet our customers’ expectations. Jiffy has played a crucial role in helping us meet that promise. It’s helped us de-risk our growing and export processes by making them affordable, repeatable, and predictable.”

RedSun has been a Jiffy customer for five years. Prior to that, it found that the complexity of other growing systems brought unpredictable challenges. Such as the need for specialized bagging equipment, input variables that had to be calibrated to perform, and substrates that required blending and buffering.

For both clonal cuttings and seeds

The nursery now propagates everything – clonal cuttings and seeds – in Jiffy-7C Pellets. With the trees being sent all over the world, phytosanitary compliance is a critical success factor. RedSun operates a closed system and it’s crucial that no pathogens are sent out to customers. Anything coming in – including the Jiffy-7Cs – is tested heavily for chemical, pest, and disease profiles.

RedSun has never had any issues with the pellets, which are always manufactured in Jiffy’s own ISO-certified production plants. To prevent the roots from growing into one another, his team puts the pellets into reusable plastic sleeves. RedSun also opens the tops of the pellets to create space for the larger seeds and covers the seeds with some cocopeat after planting.

Working with Jiffy Group and distributor Camel Thorn

“We’ve worked with Jiffy over the years to optimize results,” Mark confirms. “Jiffy’s global team and local distributor Camel Thorn Horticulture have always been innovative, and open to feedback and alternatives. At one point, we wanted to include slow-release fertilizers in the pellets, but it proved impractical in the end. We've now developed incredibly good techniques to bring liquid- and leaf-based nutrition into the Jiffies and plant growth cycles.”

When RedSun’s micro trees are hardened off at 30cm to 80cm, they have a very healthy 50:50 root-canopy weight ratio for optimal balance, root uptake, canopy dispersal, and light interception. They are exported with the pellet attached. The 60mm x 120mm size enables the nursery to pack 50 units in each climate-controlled sterilized box. The pellets are lightweight but RedSun has found that they hold enough moisture and nutrients for up to 14 days in a closed container. And that they minimize transplant issues at the other end.

Monitoring trees at the customer

To help ensure their customers’ success wherever they are located, RedSun is committed to the quick evolution and rollout of data visualization. That’s why it sends them data monitoring tools to be applied to the nursery or field growing stages. The tools can monitor exported trees during shipping, transplantation, and for the first six to 12 months of the growing period.

“If you can see it, you can manage it! Our genetics are our most valuable intellectual property and we've invested heavily in them. So we take a real interest in keeping the trees healthy, even if they’re planted in extreme climates. We use probes and electronics pioneered in medicine for fully accurate real-time data monitoring on rootzone water-holding capacity, air-filled porosity, electroconductivity, and pH. Being informed and proactive means that we can reduce losses by making fast decisions regarding inputs and water.”

Bringing in botanicals

A lot of people have jumped out of the macadamia sector because crop prices have dropped, but Mark sees this as the ideal time to consolidate, grow market share, and cement RedSun’s position in this global industry. He’s also about to expand its product range. “Outside of macadamia and avocado, we see growing global demand for botanicals and medicinal plants. We have the advantage of lower unit cost production and bioclimatic diversity in southern Africa. We’re taking what we've learned and bringing botanicals in as a third area for value-add customers in Asia and Europe.”

“Whatever our product, we strive to be in the top 10% of nurseries globally through our promise of perfect trees arriving on time. Likewise, our relationship with Jiffy and Camel Thorn is built on the consistent high quality of the pellets and the service. Consistency brings comfort to our growers and to ourselves.”

Let’s work together

Jiffy is a leading global supplier of premium growing media and solution thinking. We aim to serve you, our customers in plant propagation and cultivation, to achieve better results with fewer worries. We do this by continually improving, innovating, and working toward our common goals, based on scientific research, teamwork, and decades of experience. Let’s develop sustainable plant growing solutions together: Let’s start today!

Ganga Wijayawardane

Regional Sales Manager

You can call me on

or send me an e-mail