In years past, production of the major North American cut flower crops [rose (Rosa sp.), carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×morifolium), and alstroemeria (Alstroemeria sp.)] were grown primarily in greenhouses for local consumption. However, due to increased energy and labor costs, domestic production of the major cut flowers has shifted to South American or African countries (near the equator) where more ideal year-around production environments and low labor costs exist (Pertwee, 2003; Wien, 2009). The resulting shift led to production of specialty cut flowers in the United States that are not well adapted to long-distance transportation, and therefore proximity of production to market creates a competitive advantage (Koch, 1996; Ortiz et al., 2012; Wien, 2009; Yue and Hall, 2010).
Although cut flowers were traditionally grown in greenhouses, alternative production methods including field (Starman et al., 1995) and unheated high tunnel (Ortiz et al., 2012; Wells and Loy, 1993; Wien, 2009) production have been investigated. The low cost of growing specialty cut flowers in the field may be appealing, but the risk of extreme weather, seasonal production, and limited environmental control options can be risky (Kelly, 1991; Ortiz et al., 2012). Previous studies have been conducted to assess annual and perennial field-grown specialty cut flower performance and adaptability to environmental conditions in the southeastern United States (Starman et al., 1995). In addition, Ortiz et al. (2012) compared early- to very late-season planting (late spring to late summer) in a high tunnel to field-grown specialty cut flowers in the midwestern United States.
A high tunnel is a single or multispan temporary structure made from pipe or other durable framework that is covered with a single or double layer of greenhouse grade 4- or 6-mm plastic and typically has no electrical service, automated ventilation, or heating system (Lamont et al., 2002; Wells, 1996). High tunnels provide a number of advantages for growing cut flowers, including increased soil temperatures in early spring and late fall, season extension, protection from low temperatures in northern climates, and weather phenomena (excessive rain, hail, and wind) (Lamont, 2009; Wien, 2009). Therefore, these relatively calm and protected growing conditions maintain flower quality while also reducing flower disfiguring from disease (Lamont, 2009; Wien, 2009). Additionally, while high tunnels are intended for season extension for spring and fall cut flower production, they are also useful during the summer (Wells and Loy, 1993).
To our knowledge, no studies have been published on late-season planting (summer) in the field and high tunnel of the seven selected specialty cut flower cultivars used in this study in the midwestern United States. These cultivars were selected based on characteristics of cut flower crops suitable for U.S. plant hardiness zone 5b, field and high tunnel production, and popularity among consumers. The objectives of our research were to 1) assess the weekly yield, marketable stems, and quality differences of the seven specialty cut flowers in both field and high tunnel production systems; 2) quantify differences between field and high tunnel production systems; and 3) determine which of the species are best suited for late-season cut flower planting in the midwestern United States.
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OrtizM.A.HyrczykK.LopezR.G.2012Comparison of high tunnel and field production of specialty cut flowers in the MidwestHortScience4712651269
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