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Michael Knee, Peg McMahon, and Glenn Carey

An undergraduate class in postharvest physiology observed a number of factors in the senescence of cut roses, which had been studied separately in the literature. They assessed the relative importance of the factors in determining vase life. `Samantha' roses were held at 20C in distilled water or a floral preservative. Ethylene treatment caused petal distortion and premature senescence. Floral preservatives stimulated ethylene production, although vase life was extended relative to flowers in water. Higher sugar contents and respiration were maintained in preservative than in water. Water uptake by roses was almost constant, but stem resistance to water flow increased faster in water than in preservative. In the 2nd week of vase life, transpiration exceeded water uptake, particularly for roses in water. As much of this water was lost through leaves as through the flower. The results suggest that a complex interaction of several factors determines vase life.

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Kenneth R. Schroeder and Dennis P. Stimart

In an effort to reduce chemical usage to prolong postharvest keeping time of cut flowers, a cross was made between a long-lived (vase life, 10.9 days) inbred line of Antirrhinum majus and a short-lived (vase life, 5.0 days) inbred line. The F1 hybrid was backcrossed to the short-lived parent. Sixty plants of the BC1 generation were carried on through three generations of selfing by single-seed descent. Eight replications each of 60 BC1S3 families, the parents, and the F1 hybrid were grown in the greenhouse, harvested with 40-cm stems when five florets opened, and placed in distilled water for vase life evaluation. Stems were discarded when 50% of the florets on a spike wilted, browned, or dried. Three families proved not significantly different from the long-lived inbred parent. Results indicate that inbred backcross breeding shows potential to increase the postharvest keeping time of short-lived Antirrhinum majus inbred lines.

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José J.M. van der Meulen-Muisers and Joop C. van Oeveren

To improve the ability to discriminate between Asiatic hybrid lilies (Lilium L.) with regard to cut flower longevity in breeding trials, sources creating nongenetic variation during the preharvest, harvest, or postharvest phases were identified. The bulb stock origin (grower) and evaluation temperature caused only small nongenetic variation in individual flower longevity. In contrast, the developmental stage of floral buds, when cut, produced significant nongenetic variation in flower longevity. This variation could be reduced by delaying harvest. An evaluation temperature of 17 °C was optimal to discriminate between longevity levels compared to 14 and 20 °C. Flower deformation due to withering of the petals was an improved criterion for the termination of flower longevity and was preferred instead of loss of turgor of the petals. Standard conditions for screening and selecting Asiatic hybrid lilies for individual flower longevity after cutting are proposed.

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Kenneth R. Schroeder and Dennis P. Stimart

Evaluation of leaf stomatal numbers and postharvest water loss indicate these are important factors in Antirrhinum majus (snapdragon) cut flower postharvest longevity (PHL). Cut flowers with 9 days longer PHL had 53% fewer leaf stomata. Long PHL is associated with an early reduction in transpiration followed by low steady transpiration. Short-lived genotypes had a linear transpiration pattern over the period of PHL indicating poor stomatal control of water loss. Short-lived genotypes had 22% to 33% reductions in fourth quarter transpiration while long-lived genotypes had 2% to 8% reductions. In addition, short-lived genotypes had higher average fourth quarter cut flower weight losses compared to long-lived genotypes. Further investigation of stomatal numbers and functioning relative to PHL may provide breeders a rapid and nondestructive indirect selection method for PHL.

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Toru Hayashi and Setsuko Todoriki

Aqueous solution (2%) of sucrose, glucose, fructose, or maltose delayed bloom wilting and foliage yellowing of cut chrysanthemums [Dendranthema ×grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura] caused by gamma irradiation at 750 Gy. Solutions of silver thiosulfate, sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, polyoxyethylene lauryl ether, potassium sorbate, mannitol, sorbitol, glycerol, 6-benzylamino purine, and gibberellin did not reduce irradiation damage. Holding chrysanthemum cut flowers in a sucrose solution before and during irradiation did not influence the vase life, but holding the cut flowers in a sucrose solution following irradiation prolonged the vase life. The results suggest that sugars reduce radiation-induced physiological deterioration of chrysanthemums.

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Rodney B. Jones and Janyce K. Truett

Postharvest treatments designed to enhance the vase life of cut Gloriosa rothschildiana flowers were tested. Vase life was significantly extended by the germicides 8-HQC (250 mg·liter-1), DICA (50 mg·liter-1), and Physan-20 (50 mg·liter-1). Germicides acted primarily by improving solution uptake. Sucrose, either as a continuous treatment (of 2% or 5% w/v), or as a 24-hour pulse (20%), significantly enhanced vase life, primarily by enhancing the development of immature buds and delaying senescence in open flowers. Flowers stored at 1C developed signs of chilling injury within 3 days, but chilling symptoms were not displayed in stems stored at 10C for 10 days. Flowers were not affected when exposed to 50 μl ethylene/liter for 24 hours. Transport and short-term storage in sealed, air-filled bags to protect the flowers from physical damage resulted in some atmosphere modification within the bags. Fungal growth occurred when flowers were kept in air-tilled bags for more than 6 days, resulting in a reduction in vase life. Chemical names used: 8-hydroxyquinoline citrate (8-HQC); sodium dichloroisocyanuric acid (DICA); n-alkyl dimethyl ethylbenzyl ammonium chloride (Phyrsan-20).

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J.C. Vlahos and M. Papadimitriou

Ebenus cretica, Leguminosae, is a perennial bush endemic to the island of Crete, and produces attractive pinky red or purple flowers on 15-cm long racemes. To study the possibility of its use as a cut flower, cut inflorescences on 40-cm-long spikes were taken from plants grown outdoors in the farm of the Technological Educati Institute and used to determine the postharvest characteristics of Ebenus flowers. Without any postharvest treatments, the inflorescences held in water had an average life of about 7 days. A solution of 100 ppm 8-hydroxyquinone sulfate (HQS) in DI water, supplemented with 5% Ca(NO)3 increased vase life for 2 days and improved the water potential without affecting transpiration, whereas the addition of 2% or 5% sucrose decreased vase life by 1 or 2 days respectively. Pulsing with 0.2 mm STS for 2 h improved flower quality and vase life. Addition of 6-BAP (2 ppm) or GA3 (3 ppm) in the preservative solution did not affect flower quality or vase life compared to control. These results indicate that inflorescences of Ebenus cretica may be used as cut flowers; however, further research is required to determine their sensitivity to ethylene as well as its storage capabilities.

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Jong Suk Lee and Young A. Kim

Rose (Rosa hybrida) cvs. Red Velvet, First Red, Sonia, and Saphir stems harvested at bud stage were kept in deionized water or preservative solution (3% sucrose + 200 ppm HQS + 0.1 mM ethionine) at 21°C under continuous light (1200 lux). Vase life of `First Red' and `Saphir' was much longer than those of `Red Velvet' and `Sonia' held in deionized water. Severe bent-neck was observed in `Red Velvet' flowers held in deionized water in 8 days after harvest. Rose flowers held in preservative solution resulted in extended vase life and inhibited senescence and bent-neck in four cultivars. Neck strength of `First Red' and `Saphir' rose flowers having no bent-neck and long vase life was stronger than `Red Velvet' and `Sonia' having frequent bent-neck and short vase life. Neck strength was also increased by preservative solution. Faster changes of water balance to minus value were detected in the rose flowers held in deionized water than those held in preservative solution. `Red Velvet' flowers having much absorption of water but more transpiration caused a fast change to a minus value in water balance and early bent-neck. Cell sap pH gradually increased in petal and stem of rose cultivars during senescence. Cell sap pH of flowers held in distilled water were higher than those held in preservative solution. Increased cell sap pH of rose flowers caused rapid change to blueing and yellowing of petals.

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Paul B. Hedman, John M. Dole, Niels O. Maness, and Jeffrey A. Anderson

The postharvest biosynthesis of ethylene and CO2 was measured at 0, 12, 24, and 48 h after harvest and the effects of exogenous applications of 0.0, 0.2, or 1.0 μl·liter–1 ethylene for 20 h was observed on eight speciality cut flower species. Helianthus maximilliani (Maximillian's sunflower), Penstemon digitalis (penstemon), Achillea fillipendulina [`Coronation Gold' (yarrow)], Celosia plumosa [`Forest Fire' (celosia)], Cosmos bipinnatus [`Sensation' (cosmos)], Buddleia davidii (butterfly bush), and Weigela sp. (weigela) exhibited a climacteric-like pattern of ethylene production followed by a steady rise in CO2 production. Echinacea purpurea (coneflower) ethylene biosynthesis was not significant during the 48-h period after harvest. Vase life of coneflower, yarrow, celosia, cosmos, and butterfly bush was not affected by exogenous ethylene. Exogenous ethylene applications to Maximillian's sunflower, penstemon, and weigela resulted in flower abscission and decreased vase life, indicating that they are probably ethylene-sensitive cut flower species.

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Amanda S. Brandt and William R. Woodson

We have investigated the patterns of ethylene biosynthesis in carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L.) genotypes that exhibit extended vase life in comparison to flowers of White Sim'. `White Sim' flowers exhibited typical symptoms of senescence, including petal in-rolling and rapid wilting, beginning 5 days after harvest. In contrast, the other genotypes studied did not show petal in-rolling or rapid wilting associated with petal senescence. The first visible symptom of senescence in these flowers was necrosis of the petal tips, and it occurred from 3 to 7 days after the initial symptoms of senescence were seen in `White Sim' flowers. In all cases, the extended-vase-life genotypes did not exhibit the dramatic increase in ethylene production that typically accompanies petal senescence in carnation. This appeared to be the result of limited accumulation of ACC. In addition, flowers of these genotypes had limited capacity to convert ACC to ethylene. Therefore, we conclude that the low level of ethylene produced by these flowers during postharvest aging is the result of low activities of both ACC synthase and the ethylene-forming enzyme. Treatment of `White Sim' flowers at anthesis with 1.0 μl ethylene/liter resulted in the induction of increased ethylene biosynthesis and premature petal senescence. The extended-vase-life genotypes exhibited varying responses to ethylene treatment. One genotype (87-37G-2) produced elevated ethylene and senesced prematurely, as did flowers of `White Sim'. A second genotype (82-1) was induced to senesce by ethylene treatment but did not produce increased ethylene. A third genotype (799) was unaffected by ethylene treatment. The results of this study suggest these extended-vase-life genotypes are representative of genetic differences in the capacity to synthesize and respond to ethylene. Chemical name used: 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC).