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Jaime K. Morvant, John M. Dole and Janet C. Cole

Euphorbia pulcherrima `Gutbier V-14 Glory' were grown with 220 mg·liter–1 N (20N–4.4P–16.6K) using ebb-and-flow (EF), capillary mat (CAP), microtube (MIC), and hand-watering (HAN) and were irrigated either daily (pulse - P) or as needed (regular - R). For all irrigation systems, pulse irrigation produced the greatest total dry weight. HAN-R produced lower total dry weight than all other irrigation systems and frequencies. Root dry weight was highest with pulse subirrigation (EF and CAP). MIC-P, EF-P, and EF-R were the most water-efficient treatments. The experiment was repeated twice with similar results. In a second experiment, Pelargonium ×hortorum `Pinto Red' root balls were sliced into three equal segments; top, middle, and bottom. For all irrigation systems, root counts were lowest in the top region. EF root counts were greatest in the middle region, while MIC root counts were greatest in the bottom region. The two subirrigation systems had higher average root counts than the two top-irrigated systems (HAN and MIC). In general, there was less difference in EC between regions for top-irrigated than for subirrigated root balls. The EC was lowest in the bottom and middle regions of EF and the bottom region of MIC and CAP. For subirrigation, the highest EC was in the top region. For all systems, pH was lowest in the bottom region.

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John M. Dole, Janet C. Cole and Sharon L. von Broembsen

`Gutbier V-14 Glory' poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. Ex. Klotzsch) grown with ebb-and-flow irrigation used the least amount of water and produced the least runoff, and plants grown with capillary mats used the greatest amount of water and produced the most runoff, compared to microtube and hand-watering systems. The maximum amount of water retained by the pots and media was greatest for the microtube and ebb-and-flow systems and became progressively lower for the hand-watering and capillary mat systems. The media and leachate electrical conductivity from plants grown with subirrigation systems was higher than those grown with top irrigation. For the two top-irrigation systems (microtube and hand-watering), plants grown with 250 mg N/liter from a 20N-4.4P-16.6K water-soluble fertilizer had greater leaf, stem, and total dry weights than those grown with 175 mg N/liter. The two subirrigation systems (ebb-and-flow and capillary mat) produced plants that were taller and had greater leaf, stem, and total dry weights when grown with 175 than with 250 mg N/liter. The higher fertilizer concentration led to increased N, P, Fe, and Mn concentration in the foliage. Nitrogen concentration was higher in top-irrigated plants than in subirrigated plants. The ebb-and-flow system produced the greatest total dry weight per liter of water applied and per liter of runoff; capillary mat watering was the least efficient in regard to water applied and runoff.

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John M. Dole, Janet C. Cole and Vicki Stamback

Rooted cuttings of four woody cut species, Buddleia davidii `Black Knight' (butterfly bush), Forsythia × intermedia `Lynwood Gold', Salix chaenomeloides (Japanese pussywillow), and Salix matsudana `Tortuosa' (corkscrew willow) were planted outdoors in 23 Apr. 1992. During the next year, forsythia, pussywillow, and corkscrew willow plants were either unpruned or pruned to 30–45 cm above the ground: 1) during dormancy or immediately after harvest (winter); 2) 3 to 4 weeks after start of shoot growth (spring); or 3) in early June (summer), and number and length of stems harvested was recorded for three years. Butterfly bush was either unpruned or pruned to 8 cm above the ground during: 1) winter or 2) spring, and number and length of stems recorded for 2 years. Stem length and number increased each year for all four species, and all species produced harvestable stems within 1 year after planting. For forsythia, no differences due to treatment were found, although year by treatment interactions were noted. The unpruned control produced the longest and greatest number of stems for pussy willow. Winter or spring pruning produced the longest and greatest number of stems for corkscrew willow. For butterfly bush, spring or no pruning produced the greatest number of stems, and year by treatment interactions were noted.

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Bridget K. Behe, Paul B. Redman and John M. Dole

Consumer flower-color preferences are of interest to market researchers, plant producers, and retailers because this information can help them to anticipate accurately the sales product mix. Our objective was to determine consumer bract-color preferences for 47 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) cultivars. Visitors (124) to the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, rated `Sonora', a red cultivar, highest (4.6 of 5.0) of any cultivar. Nine of ten highest rated cultivars were red. We compared the ratings of poinsettia buyers with those of nonpoinsettia buyers and found only one difference: nonpoinsettia buyers rated `Jingle Bells III', a marble cultivar, higher (4.3) than poinsettia buyers (3.8). We also compared consumers who had purchased a red poinsettia to those who had purchased nonred colors and found that red poinsettia buyers rated `Sonora' higher (4.9) than nonred poinsettia buyers (4.5). Men rated `Red Elegance' higher (3.7) than women (3.3), whereas women rated `Freedom White' higher (3.1) than men (2.4). We found few differences between men and women, buyers and nonbuyers, and nonred buyers and red buyers, which may indicate a relatively homogeneous market that does not greatly differentiate among poinsettia bract color.

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Ben A. Bergmann, John M. Dole and Ingram McCall

Responses of 14 to 20 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) cultivars were assessed following exposure to environmental stressors common in the crop’s postproduction supply chain and consumer environment: low light levels, low temperatures, and low substrate moisture. As indicated by number of days to unacceptable appearance, 14 cultivars tolerated three low light levels (10, 20, and 40 µmol·m–2·s–1) well, with all individuals of six of the cultivars exhibiting an acceptable appearance at 7 weeks when the experiment ended. An experiment with 20 cultivars showed them to be surprisingly tolerant of low temperatures for a short duration, with no differences found when averaging across cultivars among plants exposed to 2, 5, or 20 °C for 2 days. However, all cultivars exposed to 5 °C for 10 days performed poorly. Cultivars differed markedly in response to low substrate moisture, with frequency of unacceptable plants before 4 weeks across all treatments ranging from 0% to 87% among the 14 cultivars tested. Across 17 cultivars, acceptable plant appearance was extended from 23 days for plants that were never irrigated after 10 d in sleeves to 32 days for plants that received a single irrigation at unsleeving and not thereafter. The low temperatures and low substrate moisture experiments were conducted in 2 years, and years differed significantly for nearly all dependent variables assessed. The significant interaction between year and cultivar for all observed variables in those two experiments indicates the importance of conducting experiments such as these over 2 years or more. Potted plants of many of the poinsettia cultivars tested proved to be highly tolerant in terms of low light levels, low temperatures, and low substrate moisture. Three cultivars appeared to be most tolerant in two of the three experiments: Prestige Red (low light levels and low temperatures), Titan Red (low temperatures and low substrate moisture), and Whitestar (low light levels and low substrate moisture). Three cultivars were most tolerant to all three sources of postproduction plant stress: Christmas Day Red, Early Mars Red, and Titan White.

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Nathan J. Jahnke, John M. Dole and H. David Shew

Postharvest environments during storage and shipping are often conducive to plant stress and disease development. Liners of four cultivars of geraniums (Pelargonium ×hortorum) were evaluated every 2 days for their susceptibility to gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) and leaf yellowing over an 8-day simulated shipping period at either constant air temperature of 15 °C or variable air temperatures cycling every 24 hours between 10 and 30 °C. The latter treatment was created using air temperature logs of commercial liner shipments sent to five locations during Spring 2016 and Fall 2016. We sprayed a spore suspension of 2 × 104 or 2 × 106 to inoculate liners before they were subjected to the two temperature treatments. Disease ratings did not reach significant levels for the dry control until day 6 of storage. Regardless of the spore concentration, ratings were similar for inoculated cuttings. Independent of the storage temperature and spore concentration, liners developed minor lesions by day 2 of storage. Cultivars varied slightly in disease ratings, with Tango Dark Red being the most susceptible, followed by Patriot Bright Red, Patriot Rose Pink, and Americana Red. During the 8-day incubation period, ‘Patriot Rose Pink’ developed the most leaf yellowing compared with the other three cultivars. Liners that experienced variable air temperatures had marginal leaf yellowing by day 2, and this yellowing increased throughout the experiment. Liners placed at 15 °C had ≈50% less leaf yellowing compared with liners exposed to variable air temperatures until day 8, when leaf yellowing was similar between the two air temperature treatments. Disease caused by B. cinerea was avoided when simulated shipping was 2 days or fewer, and a stable air temperature of 15 °C reduced leaf yellowing on geranium liners compared with variable air temperatures.

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Iftikhar Ahmad, Brian E. Whipker and John M. Dole

Effects of paclobutrazol and ancymidol on postharvest performance and growth control of potted sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq.) and marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.) plugs, respectively, were studied. Paclobutrazol was applied as a drench at 0, 1.0, 2.0, or 4.0 mg of a.i. per 15.2-cm pot for sunflower and 0, 0.5, 1.0, or 2.0 mg per 12.5-cm pot for zinnia, while ancymidol was applied at 0, 40, 80, and 160 mg·L−1 with a volume of 0.21 L·m−2 as a foliar spray for marigolds or petunia plug crops. With an increase in paclobutrazol dose or ancymidol concentration, plant growth (plant height and diameter, shoot fresh or dry weight) was controlled for all species tested. Use of 1.0–2.0 mg paclobutrazol per pot produced 21% to 28% shorter plants with 12% to 15% smaller plant diameter, 13% to 19% less shoot fresh weight, 15% to 21% less dry weight, and darker green foliage color for potted sunflower than nontreated plants. Treatment with 1.0–4.0 mg paclobutrazol per pot delayed first wilting by 0.7–1.4 days compared with nontreated plants. For zinnia, 0.5–1.0 mg paclobutrazol controlled plant growth, produced dark green foliage, and extended shelf life by delaying first wilting by 2.6–3.9 days and second wilting by 1.4–2.0 days than nontreated plants. For marigold and petunia plugs, 40–80 mg·L−1 ancymidol provided ample growth control with darker green foliage; however, postharvest longevity was extended only when plugs were sprayed with 160 mg·L−1 ancymidol. During simulated storage and shipping, plant growth retardants maintained darker green foliage for potted sunflower, zinnia, and marigold plugs and prevented postharvest stem elongation of petunia plugs. In summary, use of plant growth retardants effectively controlled excessive plant growth and extended shelf life of potted plants and plugs.

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Iftikhar Ahmad, John M. Dole, Atyab Amjad and Sagheer Ahmad

Effects of wet and dry storage methods were compared to improve postharvest performance of specialty cut flower species. While increasing duration of storage reduced vase life, vase life declined less with dry storage for marigold (Tagetes erecta) and rose (Rosa hybrida), but not for zinnia (Zinnia elegans) or lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) over wet storage. Marigold stems had 1.9, 4.6, and 1.5 days longer vase life after 1, 2, or 3 weeks in dry storage, respectively, as compared with storage in water. Zinnia stems did not tolerate either wet or dry storage, while lisianthus stems had a longer vase life when stored in water as compared with dry storage. For rose, dry storage for 2 weeks increased vase life compared with wet storage. Dry stored marigold and lisianthus stems had higher water uptake after being placed in the vase as compared with the stems stored in water, while zinnia and rose had less uptake. Storage method had no effect on leaf relative water content (LRWC) in lisianthus, marigold, and zinnia; however, LRWC decreased with increased storage duration. This necessitates evaluation of storage method and duration effects for each species and cultivar to ensure extended storage life and improve postharvest quality.

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Iftikhar Ahmad, John M. Dole and Bruno T. Favero

Effects of pulsing with different concentrations of gibberellin plus benzyladenine (GA4+7 + BA), a proprietary mixture of GA4+7 plus BA in a commercial floral preservative (GA4+7 + BA + preservative), or a propriety mixture of sugar plus acidifier developed for bulbous flowers (floral bulb preservative) were studied on postharvest performance and quality of cut lily (Lilium hybrids) and gladiolus (Gladiolus hybrids) flowers. Pulsing of cut stems of lily with GA4+7 + BA at 5 or 2 mL·L−1 GA4+7 + BA + preservative for 20 hours at 3 ± 1 °C extended the vase life and controlled leaf chlorosis of ‘Cobra’ oriental lily and ‘Cappuccino’ and ‘Dot Com’ asiatic lily. Cut ‘Orange Art’ asiatic lily performed best when pulsed with GA4+7 + BA at 10 mg·L−1. For cut gladiolus, pulsing with GA4+7 + BA at 10 mg·L−1 extended the vase life of ‘Alice’, ‘Mammoth’, and ‘Passion’, while ‘Scarlet’ had the longest vase life when pulsed with 5 mg·L−1 GA4+7 + BA. GA4+7 + BA + preservative also extended the vase life and controlled leaf chlorosis, but the floral bulb preservative had no effect on vase life extension or preventing leaf chlorosis of lilies. Gladiolus cultivars had no or minor leaf chlorosis during vase period. Overall, overnight pulsing with GA4+7 + BA or GA4+7 + BA + preservative extended the vase life and prevented leaf chlorosis and can be used by growers and wholesalers for maintaining quality of cut stems.

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Cristian E. Loyola, John M. Dole and Rebecca Dunning

In the United States and Canada, there has been an increase in the demand for local specialty cut flowers and a corresponding increase in production. To assess the needs of the industry, we electronically surveyed 1098 cut flower producers and handlers in the United States and Canada regarding their current cut flower production and postharvest problems, and customer issues. We received a total of 210 responses, resulting in a 19% response rate. The results showed that the main production problem was insect management; crop timing was the second most important problem and disease management was the third. Crop timing encompasses a range of related issues such as determining the correct harvest stage, harvest windows that are too short, flowering all at once, or lack of control when the crop is ready to harvest. The main postharvest problems were temperature management, hydration, and flower food management. Timing and stem length were the two most mentioned species-specific production issues, with each one listed by 10% or more of the respondents for eight of the total 31 species. Regarding on-farm postharvest handling, hydration and vase life were the two most mentioned issues; they were reported for five and three species, respectively. For postharvest during storage and transport, damage and hydration were the most common issues; these were listed for three species each. The most commonly mentioned customer complaints were vase life and shattering, which were reported for six and two species, respectively. These results will allow researchers and businesses to focus on the major cut flower production and postharvest issues and on crops that are most in need of improvement in North America.