The traditional use of poinsettias has been as potted plants. A new poinsettia variety, `Winter Rose Dark Red', is performing well as a cut flower, lasting 2 to 3 weeks. Various postharvest handling procedures were examined, including stem processing methods at harvest, storage and transit conditions, as well as handling practices at the wholesale, retail, and consumer levels, to determine the best handling practices to maximize quality and longevity. At harvest, traditional latex controlling techniques, such as dipping stems in 95% ethanol for 10 min and burning or boiling stem tips were tested. Stems wilted faster when dipped in ethanol or burned. The woody nature of the stem contains little latex compared to traditional varieties; thus, no latex-controlling methods are needed or beneficial. After harvest, there was no benefit found in hydrating stems in a commercial hydration solution compared to plain water. Transport and/or storage conditions between 10 to 15 °C for 3 to 4 days maximized longevity. Chilling injury occurred when transported at 4 °C. Leaves and bracts wilted when stored dry in a box, but recovered within 12 to 24 h when stored for 2 days. Leaves abscised after exposure to short-term wilting but no bract abscission occurred. Storing stems in a 10% bleach solution prevented wilting and reduced bacterial growth. Bracts were sensitive to mechanical injury during transit, resulting in bruising lesions on the bracts, which increased sensitivity to bract edge burn. Stems declined faster when maintained in a floral preservative compared to water during the consumer phase.
Ria T. Leonard, Terril A. Nell, Jim E. Barrett, and David G. Clark
Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, Jim E. Barrett, and David G. Clark
Production and postproduction factors were examined to evaluate effects on postproduction performance and longevity of several varieties of potted African violets, carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hibiscus, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Various N rates (150–600 ppm) and fertilizer termination 2 to 3 weeks prior to flowering were evaluated. Chrysanthemums, hydrangea, and lisianthus had better quality and longevity at N rates ranging from 200 to 300 ppm, while all other crops performed best at 150 ppm N. Terminating fertilizer had no effect on longevity or quality of carnation, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, or kalanchoe, while chrysanthemum and cyclamen had a significant increase in longevity when terminated. Lisianthus had an increase in quality and longevity when fertilizer was continued to the end of production. Shipping at the proper bud developmental stage significantly influenced flower opening and longevity in the postharvest environment. Lisianthus and hydrangea need to have at least 75% of the buds fully opened, while carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, and kalanchoe need at least 25% to 50% open. Hiemalis begonia, a very long-lasting potted plant, tolerated a range of 10% to 75% open flowers at shipping. Optimum transport temperature and transport duration varied for each crop. Generally, transporting for 3 days at 2 to 7 °C was best for carnation, chrysanthemum, and gerbera, while transporting at 7 to 12 °C was best for cyclamen, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Hibiscus performed best when transported at 18 °C. Longevity and quality were maximized when maintained at 18 to 21 °C at 14 μmol·m–2·s–1. Differences in variety performance was a major factor in postproduction performance.
Ayumi Suzuki, Ria T. Leonard, Terril A. Nell, Jim E. Barrett, and David G. Clark
It has traditionally been recommended to cut flower stems underwater to reduce blockage and improve water uptake, although little scientific information relates this practice to vase life. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the benefit of this processing technique on quality and longevity of several cut flowers species. Stems were either cut dry or cut wet under deionized water with a stainless steel blade and placed into vases containing a commercial floral preservative. Water samples were obtained from the cutting tank over time during stem processing for bacteria counts. Stems were maintained at 2 °C at 10 μmol·m–2·s–1 (12 h/day). The results were variable from shipment to shipment, possibly due to differences in stem quality or cutting water quality. In most cases, cutting underwater had no effect on longevity of alstroemeria, chrysanthemums, gerbera daisy, roses, or snapdragons. However, in a few instances, cutting underwater improved longevity slightly. Cutting stems underwater was consistently effective in increasing longevity 2-4 days for carnations. Bacteria counts in the cutting tank water after 500 stems were processed were 6/34 × 106 propagules/mL and increased to 1.00 × 107 propagules/mL after 1000 stems. The increase in bacteria decreased leaf quality in roses and reduced the number of snapdragon flowers that opened, but did not affect longevity. In gerberas, however, longevity decreased 2 days. A high concentration of bacteria in the cutting water may effect quality and longevity of many cut flower species and may negate any benefit in cutting stems underwater.
J.B. Million, J.E. Barrett, T.A. Nell, and D.G. Clark
Experiments were conducted with four kinds of flowering plants to compare one-time vs. continuous application of paclobutrazol in subirrigation water. When a crop reached the stage at which it required growth regulator treatment, four concentrations of paclobutrazol were applied via subirrigation either one-time or continuously until the crop was terminated. Based upon regression equations, concentrations resulting in 30% size reduction for one-time applications of paclobutrazol were 0.01 mg·L-1 for Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum `Cocktail Gin', 0.09 mg·L-1 for Impatiens wallerana Hook. `Super Elfin White', 0.2 mg·L-1 for Dendranthema ×grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura `Tara', and 2.4 mg·L-1 for Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.-Andr. `Plum Crazy'. Respective optimal values for continuous application were 0.005, 0.02, 0.06, and 0.4 mg·L-1. Increasing the concentration for continuous application had a greater effect on paclobutrazol efficacy than did increasing the concentration for a single application. In a trial with impatiens `Super Elfin Salmon Blush', the paclobutrazol concentration was reduced 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% (single application) for each successive subirrigation event following an initial application of 0.1 mg·L-1 of paclobutrazol. The 50%, 75%, and 100% reduction treatments provided similar levels of size control. Dilution was more important when the reduction rate was less than 50%. Chemical name used: (±)-(R*,R*)-β-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1-dimethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol).
Erika K. Gubrium, Donna J. Clevenger, David G. Clark, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell
A series of experiments on ethylene-insensitive (EI) petunia plants (Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr.) generated in two genetic backgrounds were conducted to determine the involvement of ethylene in horticultural performance. Experiments examined various aspects of horticultural performance: days to flower, flower senescence after pollination and without pollination, fruit set and ripening, and adventitious root formation on vegetative stem cuttings. The development of EI plants was altered in several ways. Time from seed sowing to first flower anthesis was decreased by a week for EI plants grown at 26/21 °C. Flower senescence in nonpollinated and self-pollinated flowers was delayed in all EI plants compared to wild-type plants. Fruit set percentage on EI plants was slightly lower than on wild-type plants and fruit ripening on EI plants was delayed by up to 7 days. EI plants produced fewer commercially acceptable rooted cuttings than wild-type plants. There was a basic difference in the horticultural performance of the two EI lines examined due to a difference in the genetic backgrounds used to generate the lines. EI plants displayed better horticultural performance when grown with day/night temperatures of 26/21 °C than 30/24 °C. These results suggest that tissue-specific ethylene insensitivity as well as careful consideration of the genetic background used in transformation procedures and growth conditions of etr1-1 plants will be required to produce commercially viable transgenic floriculture crops. EI petunias provide an ideal model system for studying the role of ethylene in regulating various aspects of plant reproduction.
J.E. Barrett, C.E. Wieland, T.A. Nell, and D.G. Clark
In some species of bedding plants, rapid hypocotyl elongation during germination makes size control in plug production difficult. Commercial growers often start applying growth regulators as cotyledons are expanding or after the first true-leaves are expanding. Using `Bonanza Spry' marigolds, we evaluated applying paclobutrazol at sowing and after 3 and 6 days. Sprays at 30 mg·L–1 in a volume of 0.2 L·m–2 or 3 mg·L–1 in 0.6 mg·L–1 applied at sowing reduced hypocotyl elongation by 25% and produced more compact plugs. In a second study, plugs of `Double Madness Rose' petunia, `Showstopper Orange' impatiens, `Wizard Rose' coleus, and `Cooler Rose' vinca were grown in 10-cm pots with a growing medium that did not contain pine bark. Uniconazole was sprayed in a volume of 0.2 L·m–2 onto the surface of the medium before planting at concentrations of 25%, 50%, and 100% of the label's recommended concentration for each crop. An additional treatment was uniconazol applied 2 weeks after planting at the label concentration. All early applications reduced final plant size compared to the nonsprayed plants. For impatiens, the early application at 25% of the label concentration produced plants similar to the spray at 2 weeks after planting. For the other crops, the 50% treatment prodcued plants similar to the spray after planting. The early applicaiton of growth regulators offers the industry an additional stradagy to use for controlling the growth of vigorous bedding plant crops.
D.G. Clark, C. Dervinis, T.A. Nell, and J.E. Barrett
In this study, the temporal and spatial regulation of putative ethylene receptor genes was examined during ethylene and pollination-induced flower petal abscission of zonal geranium (Pelargonium × hortorum L.H. Bailey). We used the Arabidopsis thaliana ETR1 gene as a heterologous probe to isolate two full-length cDNA clones, GER1 and GER2, from an ethylene-treated geranium pistil cDNA library. Both cDNAs share a high degree of DNA sequence similarity to ETR1, and examinations of deduced amino acid sequences indicate that the proteins encoded by each gene have the conserved ethylene binding and response regulator domains found in ETR1. Experiments focused on determining the temporal regulation of these genes revealed that both genes are expressed in geranium florets much earlier than when the florets become responsive to ethylene treatment, which is sufficient to cause petal abscission in 1 hr. Both genes are expressed in pistils throughout floret development. Experiments focused on determining the spatial regulation of these genes revealed that both genes are expressed at moderate levels in leaves, pistils, anthers, and petals, and are expressed at very low levels in roots. Preliminary evidence suggests that GER2 is transcriptionally regulated by ethylene in pistils after exogenous ethylene treatment. Currently, the transcriptional regulation of these genes in pistils after pollination is unknown.
E.K. Gubrium, D.G. Clark, H.J. Klee, T.A. Nell, and J.E. Barrett
We are studying the horticultural performance of two model plant systems that carry a mutant gene that confers ethylene-insensitivity: Never Ripe tomatoes and petunia plants transformed with the mutant etr1-1 gene isolated from Arabidopsis thaliana. Having two model systems to compare side-by-side allows us to determine with greater certainty ethylene's role at different developmental stages. Presence of the mutant etr1-1 gene in transgenic petunias was determined using three techniques: PCR analysis, the seedling triple response assay (inhibition of stem elongation, radial swelling of stem and roots, and an exaggerated apical hook when grown in the dark and in the presence of ethylene), and the flower wilting response to pollination, which is known to be induced by ethylene. Flowers from ethylene-insensitive petunias took almost four times as long to wilt after pollination as wild-type plants. It is well known that fruit ripening in Never Ripe tomato is inhibited, and a similar delayed fruit ripening phenotype is observed in petunia plants transformed with etr1-1. In an effort to maintain ethylene-insensitive petunia plants by vegetative propagation, we observed that the rate of adventitious root formation was much lower with transgenic plants than in wild-type plants. In subsequent experiments on adventitious root formation in Never Ripe tomato, we observed the same result. Therefore, while ethylene-insensitive tomato and petunia plants appear phenotypically normal for many characters, other factors are altered by the presence of this mutation. The fact that these changes are present in two model systems helps to define the role of ethylene perception in plant growth and reproduction.
G. J. Hochmuth, S. J. Locascio, T.E. Crocker, C.D. Stanley, G.A. Clark, and L.R Parsons
The Florida horticulture industry (vegetables, ornamentals, citrus, and deciduous fruit), valued at $4.5 billion, has widely adopted microirrigation techniques to use water and fertilizer more efficiently. A broad array of microirrigation systems is available, and benefits of microirrigation go beyond water conservation. The potential for more-efficient agricultural chemical (pesticides and fertilizer) application is especially important in today's environmentally conscious society. Microirrigation is a tool providing growers with the power to better manage costly inputs, minimize environmental impact, and still produce high-quality products at a profit.
Jessica L. Gilbert, James W. Olmstead, Thomas A. Colquhoun, Laura A. Levin, David G. Clark, and Howard R. Moskowitz
Blueberries are a high-value fruit that has experienced extraordinary growth in consumption in the past decade. Maintaining this growing market requires an understanding of the current market and its potential for expansion. To assay the impact of 36 specific blueberry sensory and psychological traits on consumer interest, a blueberry fruit quality study was constructed using techniques that allow many features to be tested in an analysis by combining specifics from different categories that describe a product. Individual traits that most impact the likelihood of fruit purchase were identified. Sweet and intense blueberry flavor yielded the most positive purchase interest, whereas bad texture attributes such as seediness were the most detrimental to interest. It was also possible to define two interest segments within the survey population that shared similar responses to particular experimentally assayed traits. The larger segment of the sample population (61%) was most interested in the aspects of blueberry flavor, whereas the second segment of respondents (39%) was most influenced by health aspects commonly associated with blueberry fruit consumption. Both segments responded negatively to bad texture. This study suggests that breeders and producers should exploit genetic and environmental variables that contribute to improved blueberry flavor and that marketing strategies to sell blueberry cultivars of superior flavor may be appropriate.