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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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Trinidad Reyes, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

`Tara' and `Boaldi' were fertilized with 150 and 450 ppm from 20N–4.7P–16.6K soluble fertilizer and moved at flowering to postproduction conditions (21 ± 2C and 10 μmol·m–2·s–1). Shipping was simulated for 1 week at 26C. `Tara' exhibited burned leaf margins (necrosis) and chlorosis following shipping. At 150 ppm, leaves had brown, dried margins, but the damage did not progress indoors. Necrosis was worse at 450 ppm. Leaf chlorosis/necrosis of non-shipped plants at the 450 fertilizer level did not appear until the 3rd week indoors. At experiment termination, no leaf damage occurred in non-shipped `Tara' or `Boaldi' with 150 ppm. `Boaldi' did not show damage after shipping regardless of the treatment but symptoms (necrosis and wilting of leaves) evolved during the first 2 weeks indoors on plants fertilized with 450 ppm. A 50% reduction in root soluble carbohydrates was found at the highest fertilizer rate at flowering, suggesting that leaf chlorosis/necrosis is related to carbohydrate depletion in chrysanthemum.

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Brent M. Chapman, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell

Catharanthus roseus `Cooler Peppermint' were grown under four different watering regimes [well-watered (WW), wilt plus 1 day (W+1), wilt plus 3 days (W+3), and wilt plus 1 day during the last 2 weeks only (L W+1)] and two different light levels [1100 and 750 μmol·m–2·s–1]. Stress treatments affected finished plant size and leaf area as well as stomatal conductance, water potential and time to wilt during two dry-down periods imposed at the end of an 8-week production cycle. W+3 plants were 50% smaller with 50% less leaf area compared to WW plants. During the second dry-down period, WW plants in high light wilted in 2 days vs 4 days for the W+3 plants. Similarly, WW plants in low light wilted in 3 days vs 6 days for the W+3 plants. The W+3 plants maintained significantly higher water potentials and greater stomatal conductances than the other treatments throughout both dry-down periods.

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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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Nadia Roude, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Plant height, flower diameter, days to flower, and longevity of `Iridon' chrysanthemums [Dendranthemum × grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura] were not affected by various N and K concentrations (112, 225, 337, and 450 mg·liter-1) supplied during the last 5 weeks of production. However, increasing N concentration increased medium conductance, while varying K concentration had no effect on conductance. Visual grade of `Iridon' after 3 weeks in a simulated interior environment showed an interaction between concentrations of N and K. In a second study, growth and longevity of `Iridon' were affected by NH4: NO3 ratios. Plants receiving a 0:1.0 ratio flowered 4 days later than plants receiving a 0.5:0.5 ratio and were taller than plants fertilized with a 1.0:0 ratio. Longevity was greater in plants receiving a 0:1.0 ratio than in those receiving 0.5:0.5 or 0.75:0.25 ratios. Also, longevity was similar in plants receiving NH4: NO3 ratios of 0:1.0, 0.1:0.9, 0.2:0.8, and 0.3:0.7. Plants receiving 0:1.0 lasted 6 days longer than those receiving a 0.4:0.6 ratio.

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Richard K. Schoellhorn, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell

`Improved Mefo' chrysanthemums were grown at 22C/18C and 34C/28C day/night temperature regimes to evaluate the failure of lateral bud development following pinching of this temperature sensitive cultivar. The number of viable buds on plants at the high temperatures was 40% of number at low temperature. Loss of bud viability was categorized as those buds that were: 1) absent, or 2) those in which growth was present, but inhibited. Inhibited buds were visible swellings surrounded by dense masses of secondary cell wall material. Anatomical studies were completed to verify the absence of lateral buds and determine what cellular changes imposed inhibition on those buds that did develop. A second group of experiments demonstrated that moving low-temperature plants to the high temperature caused production of viable buds to decline. Plants were moved from high temperatures to low, and reciprocally to high from low temperature. Anatomical sampling of apical meristems began at time of shift and at 1, 2, 4, and 8 days after temperature shift. High-temperature meristems possessed predominantly non-viable lateral buds, with few viable buds present.

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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.

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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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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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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.