Ethylene Exposure and 1-MCP Protection for Tulip Bulbs during Storage

in HortScience
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  • 1 Cornell University, Horticulture, 20 Plant Science Building, Ithaca, NY, 14850

During transportation and storage of Dutch tulip bulbs, potential ethylene exposure could lead to flowering abnormalities, including accelerated flowering, shortened plant heights, and in the most extreme case, flower abortion. Sources of ethylene include Fusarium-infected bulbs, deteriorating tissues, and combustion engines. Treatment with 1-MCP (1-methylcyclopropene) may prevent ethylene action as 1-MCP occupies ethylene specific receptors on target tissue. Two aspects of this problem were quantified using four tulip cultivars: duration of ethylene exposure necessary to induce damage as well as the effective period of protection by 1-MCP against ethylene. Flower abortion appeared in susceptible cultivars after ≥9 days of ethylene exposure (10 ppm) and was only found in mature bulbs (late November). The effective protection period of 1-MCP against ethylene (2-week exposure of 10 ppm) was determined, using flowering percentages, to be as long as 4–7 days in young bulbs and 28 days for older bulbs. Effects of ethylene on other flower attributes and implications of these findings in industry practices will be discussed.

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