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Terril A. Nell, James E. Barrett, and Ria T. Leonard

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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, and James E. Barrett

Postproduction characteristics of the new poinsettia cultivar `Freedom', as influenced by production and postproduction treatments, were evaluated. In one study, plants were grown under three production irradiance levels consisting of 450, 675 or 900 μmol s-1m-2 at 18/24C or 22/28C night/day temperatures and moved at anthesis to postproduction conditions (10 μmol s-1m-2 for 12 hr/day, 21±2C). Anthesis was delayed, plant height and diameter decreased, and a reduction in the number and development of cyathia occurred when maintained at low production temperature and irradiance. Leaf drop, which was minimal after 30 days postproduction (< 25%), was unaffected by production treatments, while cyathia drop was accelerated by low production irradiance and temperature, but not reduced after 30 days.

Leaf retention and quality in postproduction conditions are excellent. Cyathia drop averages 40 to 50% after 2 weeks in postproduction conditions. Bracts and leaves maintain their color well, with only slight fading after 30 days. Plants exhibit slight epinasty after shipping, but recover within a couple of days. These characteristics of `Freedom' make it a promising variety for the future.

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Thea M Edwards, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Increased rates of senescence and ethylene related damage of potted flowering plants have been observed in supermarket produce areas where flowers and climacteric produce are displayed together. Ethylene levels in produce areas were found to average 20 ppb. An open system of clear glass chambers with fiberglass lids was designed to simulate retail supermarket conditions. The chambers were kept in postharvest rooms where light level and temperature could be controlled. In a 3 by 3 by 3 Box-Behnken design, Sunblaze `Candy' miniature potted roses were exposed to three levels of ethylene, 20, 40, and 80 ppb, for 1, 2, and 4 days. The three light levels used were: 0, 7, and 14 μmol·m-2·s-1. Ethylene damage was based on leaf and bud drop and decreased flower longevity.

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Ria T. Leonard, Amy M. Alexander, and Terril A. Nell

This study examined three transport systems used to transport fresh, non-stored cut flowers from Bogotá, Colombia, to the United States on a monthly basis for 1 year. Five cultivars of cut rose (Rosa hybrida), alstroemeria (Alstroemeria peruviana), carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), and gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii) were commercially transported using a 7-day conventional distribution system with temperature controls and two rapid transport systems (3-day or 24-hour) with little or no temperature controls, respectively. Temperatures during the 24-hour transport system increased steadily and temperatures were at or above 10 °C for ≈18 h, with half of that time above 15 °C for all shipments. The 3- and 7-day systems had temperature fluctuations ranging from 3 to 24 °C and 3 to 19 °C, respectively. Flowers transported using the rapid transport systems had a significantly longer vase life compared with the 7-day transport in 83% of the shipments of alstroemeria and roses, in 58% of the shipments of carnations, and in 50% of the shipments of gerberas. Vase life increased 5.6% to 17.1% (0.7 to 2.1 days) for roses, 3.2% to 16.7% (0.5 to 2.7 days) for alstroemerias, 12.8% to 34.6% (1.1 to 6.2 days) for gerberas, and 4.6% to 8.8% (1.1 to 2.3 days) for carnations when using the rapid transport systems compared with the 7-day transport system. Some cultivars were more tolerant of the longer transport. The results show that when using fresh, non-stored flowers, the rapid transport systems had equal or longer vase life than the 7-day transport system in the majority of shipments for each flower species. Results also demonstrate that better temperature management during transport is a critical issue in the floral industry that needs to be improved upon.

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Michelle H. Williams, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

It is generally accepted that ethylene production is centrally located in petal senescence, however, non-climacteric flowers senesce irrespective of the presence of ethylene. The regulation of flower senescence may well be linked to protein synthesis. Our objective was to develop a simple tool which can be used in breeding programmes and\or the market place to determine potential longevity of a flower. Here, SDS-PAGE protein profiles of both potted and cut chrysanthemum flowers were determined from flowering to senescence. Generally, only minor changes in both protein content and the proportion of the major polypeptides were observed in the potted flowers. However, polypeptides at 40, 45 and 65 kDa increased during flower senescence and are of particular interest because they could be linked to flower longevity. The apparent stability of the proteins may contribute to the long postharvest life of the potted chrysanthemum.

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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, and James E. Barrett

Production irradiance levels on growth, light compensation point (LCP), dark respiration (DR), and interior longevity of potted chrysanthemum (Demfranthema grandiflora Tzvelev. cvs. Iridon and Mountain Peak) and poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Wind. cvs. Annette Hegg Dark Red and Gutbier V-10 Amy) were determined. LCP and DR were measured at anthesis and during acclimatization to interior conditions (10 μmol·s-1·m-2). Days to flowering, inflorescence diameter, total chlorophyll, and interior longevity of chrysanthemum increased when maintained at a mean maximum photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 500 μmol·s-1·m-2 compared to plants shifted to 300 or 100 μmol·s-1·m-2 8 weeks after planting. LCP and DR were highest at anthesis and were reduced 38% and 49%, respectively, for chrysanthemum and 19% and 42%, respectively, for poinsettia within 3 days in interior conditions. Chrysanthemum plants shifted to 300 μmol·s1·m-2 during production had lower LCP and DR rates at anthesis and throughout time in interior conditions compared to plants maintained at 500 μmol·s-1·m-2. The acclimatization of chrysanthemum to reduced production PPFD is of little significance because interior longevity is reduced. No differences were found in the LCP or DR of poinsettia or chrysanthemum cultivars that differ in interior performance, demonstrating that these physiological characteristics are not good indicators of interior longevity for chrysanthemum and poinsettia.

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Andrew J. Macnish, Ria T. Leonard, and Terril A. Nell

The vase life of many cut flowers is often limited by bacterial occlusion of stem bases. In this study, we tested the efficacy of a novel antimicrobial agent, aqueous chlorine dioxide (ClO2), to extend the longevity of cut Gerbera flowers by reducing the number of bacteria in vase water. Commercially mature and freshly cut Gerbera jamesonii `Monarck' flowers were placed into clean vases containing deionized water and 0, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 μL·L-1 ClO2. Stems were then maintained in solutions at 21 ± 0.5 °C and 42 ± 11% relative humidity until the end of vase life. Inclusion of 2, 5, and 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 in vase water had beneficial effects on flower longevity. For instance, treatment with 5 and 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 extended flower longevity by 1.4-fold or 3.7 days, as compared to control flowers (0 μL·L-1 ClO2). In contrast, exposure to the higher concentrations of 20 and 50 μL·L-1 ClO2 did not extend flower vase life. Relative to control flowers, treatment with 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 delayed the onset of detectable bacterial colonization of vase solutions from day 3 to day 6 of vase life. However, this ClO2 treatment did not reduce the number of bacteria that subsequently accumulated in vase water as compared to control flowers. Treatment with 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 also increased rates of solution uptake by stems and reduced the loss of flower fresh weight over time. These results highlight the potential use of ClO2 treatments to extend the postharvest longevity of Gerbera flowers.

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Jeff B. Million, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell

Drench applications of paclobutrazol (PBZ) are becoming increasingly popular as a means for controlling height in potted plants, and research is being conducted to quantify the distribution of PBZ following applications. In one trial, 120 ml of 0 or 1 mg 1-1 PBZ were applied to 15-cm pots filled with either Vergro Klay Mix (no bark) or Metro Mix 500 (bark). A bioassay using broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Italica) seedlings was used to quantify PBZ in leachates and media following treatment drenches. Leachate PBZ concentrations were lower for Vergro than for Metro Mix 500; however, leachates for both media were <0.1 mg·liter–1. Concentrations of PBZ in media decreased with depth and were four to 10 times higher in the uppermost 2.5 cm than in lower horizons. For the uppermost 2.5 cm of media, higher PBZ concentrations were recovered in Metro Mix 500 than in Vergro. A follow-up study will compare surface vs. subsurface application methods on the movement of PBZ into pots.

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Barbara C. Poole, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Premature flower bud abscission imposes a serious limitation on longevity of potted Hibiscus in interiorscape situations, Ethylene is known to be one causative factor. Past research has suggested that carbohydrate depletion of buds may also be involved,

A series of experiments was conducted to examine the relationship between carbohydrate levels and ethylene sensitivity of flower buds under low irradiance levels. Two cultivars were used: `Pink Versicolor', which is very susceptible to bud abscission, and the more resistant `Vista', In the first experiment, plants were harvested twice weekly after placement in interiorscape rooms (8.5 μmol m-2 s-1 for 12 hrs per day; 26.5°C day/night) until all buds had abscissed. At each harvest, buds from four size groups were collected for analysis. In the second experiment, source/sink strength of buds was manipulated by selective daily removal of certain sized buds. Remaining buds were collected just prior to abscission for analysis. In two additional experiments, `Pink Versicolor' plants were treated with either silver thiosulfate or ethephon prior to placement in interiorscape rooms. Plants were harvested twice weekly and buds collected. For all experiments, bud dry wt, total soluble sugars and starch content were determined.

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G.H. Pemberton, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Senescence of gladiolus flowers, like many geophytes, does not involve a climacteric burst of ethylene. Eleven gladiolus cultivars were screened and all were non-climacteric (NC) for both respiration and ethylene production. Average ethylene levels for individual flowers were 0.5 μl C2H4/kg per h or less. As in other NC flowers, protein synthesis may be linked to senescence. Our goal was to identify specific proteins that were involved in the senescence process that could be used as indicators of postharvest longevity. SDS-PAGE protein profiles of cut gladiolus flowers were determined from a tight bud stage to senescence. Both increases and decreases were observed in major polypeptides that may be connected to postharvest flower longevity. Total protein content of gladiolus flower petals decreased by ≈70% during the profile period. This could explain the relatively short postharvest life of 3 to 5 days for individual gladiolus flowers. Total protein profiles were probed with an ACC synthase antibody to establish the relationship of this enzyme in NC senescence.