The demand for the nobile-type dendrobium as a potted orchid has been increasing worldwide. The unique flowering characteristics are one of the reasons for its increased popularity. Using sea freight to transport living plants globally is an effective way to reduce shipping costs compared with air freight. However, shipping by sea from Taiwan to the United States requires 2 to 3 weeks. During shipping, plants receive no light and no water, which leads to drought and other stresses. Thus, questions regarding whether long-term dark shipping is detrimental to the plants need to be addressed.
During long-term shipping, plants may be exposed to drought stress as a result of no watering while en route. Mittleheuser and van Steveninck (1969) reported that abscisic acid is responsible for stomatal closure during the stress response to reduce the transpiration rate. During drought stress, the progressive closure of stomata leads to a decrease in Pn (Medrano et al., 2001). Lopez and Runkle (2008) reported that, regardless of the temperature and duration of the storage, there was a decrease of Pn in Impatiens hawkeri ‘Harmony White’ cuttings compared between pre-storage and 11 d after storage. When the storage duration increased from 0 to 5 d, Pn decreased from 10.6 to 2.4 μmol·m−2·s−1 of CO2 and respiration of the cuttings increased. With Phalaenopsis Sogo Yukidian ‘V3’, Pn was significantly reduced after long-term dark shipping and 6 to 9 d were required for Pn to recover after termination of dark shipping (Hou et al., 2010).
Post-production flower longevity may also be compromised after shipping. For example, the longevity of Kalanchoe shipped for 9 d was shortened by 1 week compared with Kalanchoe shipped for 3 d (Leonard and Nell, 2000). In addition to flower longevity, shipped plants might also produce different flowering characteristics compared with non-shipped plants. Rajapakse et al. (1996) found that flowers grown from cuttings of chrysanthemum ‘Anna’ stored at 0 or 3 °C were smaller than those grown from nonstored cuttings. However, Lopez and Runkle (2008) reported no apparent effects of storage temperature or duration on the time required to flowering for New Guinea impatiens. Thaxton et al. (1988) reported that after storage at 30 °C, bud abscission of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis increased, even when they were stored for only 4 d. Hibiscus stored at 10 °C had a better visual quality compared with those stored at 20 and 30 °C. In poinsettias, rooting quality was negatively impacted after 2 d of storage at 20 and 25 °C, 4 d at 0 °C, 6 d at 5 °C, and 8 d at 10 and 15 °C compared with non-shipped plants (Faust and Enfield, 2010).
Lin et al. (2011) found that 2 weeks of 10 °C cooling is sufficient to complete vernalization on D. Sea Mary ‘Snow King’ and D. Love Memory ‘Fizz’. However, no research was found in the literature regarding the effect of long-term dark shipping on photosynthesis of nobile-type dendrobiums. Therefore, this research examined the effect of shipping environment, in terms of the duration and temperature, for nobile-type dendrobiums. Furthermore, assessment of the flowering quality of nobile-type dendrobium after shipping was also investigated.
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