The floriculture industry is constantly looking for new cultivars and species of cut flowers to excite the consumers and diversify production (Regan and Dole, 2010). The specialty cut flower industry can take advantage of innovation by regularly introducing new cut flower species/cultivars, which will also reduce the risk of depending on a limited number of species. Hundreds of new species and cultivars are released and evaluated every year for commercial cultivation (Clark et al., 2010).
Availability of production and postharvest handling protocols allows growers to select species and cultivars ideally suited for their climates. Pakistan is blessed with a wide diversity of agro-climatic conditions, which are suitable for many specialty cut flower crops (Nasir and Rafiq, 1996). Presently, the Pakistani cut flower industry is dominated by traditional cut flower crops including rose, gladiolus, tuberose, and marigold, which are grown on small scale with traditional cropping patterns using outdated techniques and limited resources. Introduction of exotic specialty cut species is one of the best options for small-scale farming businesses, but producers are reluctant to grow new species because of the lack of sufficient information about their production and postharvest handling protocols (Ahmad et al., 2014; Regan and Dole, 2010).
Delphinium, snapdragon, and stock are well recognized in international markets as specialty cut flowers; however, they are grown only as bedding garden plants in some parts of Pakistan. Evaluation of these exotic specialty cut species in different regions can be one of the best options to diversify the local cut flower industry and to fulfill esthetic needs of the consumers. Among specialty cuts, annuals are popular, comparatively cheaper to produce, and have many available cultivars that are well suited for outdoor production (Ahmad et al., 2014; Dole et al., 2009; Starman et al., 1995). Most of these species may be grown outdoors during mild winters in central and southern plains of Pakistan. Delphinium, snapdragon, and stock offer an excellent opportunity to be introduced as specialty cuts in local markets because of their easy culture and magnificent flowers with acceptable longevity. Therefore, a study was conducted to evaluate exotic cultivars of delphinium, snapdragon, and stock in comparison with local cultivars of snapdragon and stock for their production and postharvest performance as cut flowers in the agro-climatic conditions of Punjab, Pakistan.
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