Over the years, by recurrent phenotypic selection, breeding and evaluation, we have developed blue, white, and pink flowered lines of Big Bend bluebonnet (L. havardii Wats.). The racemes, which differ in their sensitivity to ethylene, hold promise as a new specialty cut flower crop. The key determinants of postharvest longevity and performance of cut racemes are flower abscission and senescence. Our studies indicated that the addition of sucrose in the holding solution greatly enhanced the vase life, although the optimum sucrose concentration varied considerably in different lines. In blue flowered lines (e.g., `Texas Sapphire', Blue Select) sucrose concentration greater than 2% induced `osmotic wilting' followed by senescence of the standard petal (banner spot petal), while the petals in white flowered lines (e.g., `Texas Ice', White Select) did not show any wilting even in 4% to 6% sucrose. Ethylene perception inhibitors such as 1-MCP or STS completely suppressed the induction of flower abscission in racemes of all the bluebonnet lines. Ethylene biosynthesis inhibitors (e.g., ReTain, CO++), on the other hand, were relatively less effective than 1-MCP/STS. Both ethylene perception as well as biosynthesis inhibitors, in combination with sucrose, acted additively and further enhanced the postharvest performance by delaying flower abscission/senescence.
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