499 Postharvest Care and Handling Practices for Cut Poinsettia cv. `Winter Rose Dark Red'

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  • 1 Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

The traditional use of poinsettias has been as potted plants. A new poinsettia variety, `Winter Rose Dark Red', is performing well as a cut flower, lasting 2 to 3 weeks. Various postharvest handling procedures were examined, including stem processing methods at harvest, storage and transit conditions, as well as handling practices at the wholesale, retail, and consumer levels, to determine the best handling practices to maximize quality and longevity. At harvest, traditional latex controlling techniques, such as dipping stems in 95% ethanol for 10 min and burning or boiling stem tips were tested. Stems wilted faster when dipped in ethanol or burned. The woody nature of the stem contains little latex compared to traditional varieties; thus, no latex-controlling methods are needed or beneficial. After harvest, there was no benefit found in hydrating stems in a commercial hydration solution compared to plain water. Transport and/or storage conditions between 10 to 15 °C for 3 to 4 days maximized longevity. Chilling injury occurred when transported at 4 °C. Leaves and bracts wilted when stored dry in a box, but recovered within 12 to 24 h when stored for 2 days. Leaves abscised after exposure to short-term wilting but no bract abscission occurred. Storing stems in a 10% bleach solution prevented wilting and reduced bacterial growth. Bracts were sensitive to mechanical injury during transit, resulting in bruising lesions on the bracts, which increased sensitivity to bract edge burn. Stems declined faster when maintained in a floral preservative compared to water during the consumer phase.

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