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  • Author or Editor: John M. Dole x
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Canterbury bells (Campanula medium `Champion Blue') seeds were primed using calcined clay at 68 °F (20 °C) for 1, 3, or 5 days at water potentials (Ψ) of -25, -20, -18, or -16 bars (-2.5, -2.0, -1.8, or -1.6 MPa). Germination was fastest (3.0 to 3.1 days) after priming with a Ψ of -18 or -16 bars for 5 days. Seeds primed for 3 or 5 days with moisture present germinated faster than nonprimed seeds, but time to 50% germination (T50) was longer when seeds were primed for 1 day regardless of Ψ compared to nonprimed seed. Germination uniformity decreased (time from 10% to 90% germination, T10-90, increased) as Ψ increased. Although a curvilinear relationship existed between T10-90 and priming duration, T10-90 did not differ between nonprimed seeds and seeds in any priming treatment except those primed for 3 days with 20% moisture (-16 bars). Priming did not affect total germination percentage (97%).

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Three experiments were conducted to determine the effectiveness of plant growth regulators (PGRs) on `Tete a Tete', `Dutch Master', and `Sweetness' narcissus (Narcissus pseudonarcissus). Ethephon foliar sprays (500 to 2500 mg·L-1) and substrate drenches of flurprimidol and paclobutrazol (0.25 to 4 mg/pot a.i.) did not control height during greenhouse forcing of `Tete a Tete' at any concentration trialed. Stem stretch was controlled during postharvest evaluation with ethephon foliar sprays ≥1000 mg·L-1, flurprimidol substrate drenches ≥0.5 mg/pot a.i., and paclobutrazol substrate drenches of 4 mg/pot a.i. A second experiment investigated preplant bulb soaks of flurprimidol (10 to 40 mg·L-1) applied to `Dutch Master' and `Tete a Tete' narcissus bulbs. Flurprimidol preplant bulb soaks controlled postharvest stretch on `Tete a Tete' and `Dutch Master' at concentrations ≥15 and ≥10 mg·L-1, respectively. A third experiment was conducted with paclobutrazol (75 to 375 mg·L-1) on `Tete a Tete' and `Dutch Master' and three concentrations of flurprimidol on `Sweetness' to determine optimal soak recommendations. Paclobutrazol preplant bulb soaks ≥75 mg·L-1 controlled postharvest stretch of `Tete a Tete' and `Dutch Master', while 37.5 mg·L-1 of flurprimidol controlled postharvest stretch of `Sweetness'. Based on the results of these experiments, growers can now select a PGR to help control excessive plant growth.

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Imports of cut flowers into the United States have doubled in the last 20 years and come mainly from Colombia and Ecuador. We surveyed the cut flower industry in South and Central America, focusing on Colombia and Ecuador, to determine their production and postharvest problems. We received a total of 51 responses, of which 62% of the respondents had 100 or more employees. The most commonly grown or handled crops were rose (Rosa hybrids), carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×grandiflorum), alstroemeria (Alstroemeria cultivars), gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii), and hydrangea (Hydrangea species), in order of ranking. The most significant production problem was insect management, with disease management and crop timing the next most important issues. The most important species-specific issues in production were phytosanitary problems, disease (causal organism not specified), leaf miner (Lepidoptera, Symphyta, or Diptera), and thrips (Thysanoptera). The main overall postharvest problem was temperature management, followed by hydration and flower food management and botrytis (Botrytis cinerea). In regard to on-farm postharvest handling, damage to the flowers was the most mentioned issue. For the postharvest during storage and transport phase, temperature management, air transport, damage, and botrytis were the most important problems. The most mentioned customer complaints were damage, botrytis, and phytosanitary problems. The results of this survey can be used by researchers to focus their work on topics of most need. Improved production and postharvest handling will support the continued growth of the cut flower industry.

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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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Preplant bulb soaks of ancymidol, flurprimidol, paclobutrazol, and uniconazole; foliar sprays of flurprimidol; and substrate drenches of flurprimidol, paclobutrazol, and uniconazole were compared for height control of `Prominence' tulips (Tulipa sp.). Height control was evaluated at anthesis in the greenhouse and 10 days later under postharvest conditions. Substrate drenches of ancymidol, flurprimidol, and paclobutrazol resulted in adequate control using concentrations of 0.5, 0.5, and 1 mg/pot a.i. (28,350 mg = 1 oz), respectively. At these concentrations, ancymidol drenches cost $0.06/pot and paclobutrazol drenches $0.03/pot. Since flurprimidol is not yet available and no price is available, growers will need to assess the cost compared to ancymidol and paclobutrazol. Flurprimidol foliar sprays at <80 mg·L–1 (ppm) were ineffective in controlling height during greenhouse forcing, but during postharvest evaluation 80 mg·L–1 resulted in 14% shorter plants than the untreated control. Preplant bulb soaks of flurprimidol, paclobutrazol, and uniconazole at concentrations of 25, 50, and 10 mg·L–1, respectively, effectively controlled plant height. Preplant plant growth regulator soaks are a cost-effective method of controlling plant height of tulips because of the limited amount of chemical required to treat a large quantity of bulbs.

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Preplant bulb soaks of flurprimidol, paclobutrazol, and uniconazole; foliar sprays of ethephon and flurprimidol; and substrate drenches of flurprimidol were compared for height control of `Anna Marie' hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis). Preplant bulb soak concentrations of flurprimidol and paclobutrazol were from 25 to 400 mg·L-1, and uniconazole from 5 to 80 mg·L-1. Height control was evaluated at anthesis and 11 days later under postharvest conditions. Ethephon (250 to 2000 mg·L-1) and flurprimidol (5 to 80 mg·L-1) foliar sprays were ineffective. Flurprimidol (0.25 to 4 mg/pot) drenches had no effect during forcing, but controlled postharvest height at concentrations ≥0.25 mg/pot a.i. with at least 4% shorter plants than the untreated control. Preplant bulb soaks resulted in height control with flurprimidol ≥25 mg·L-1, paclobutrazol ≥100 mg·L-1, and uniconazole ≥40 mg·L-1; having at least 9%, 6%, and 19%, respectively, shorter plants than the untreated control. Based on our results, flurprimidol preplant bulb soaks have a greater efficacy than either uniconazole or paclobutrazol. Preplant PGR soaks are a cost-effective method of controlling plant height of hyacinths because of the limited amount of chemical required to treat a large quantity of bulbs.

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Each year a wide variety of new cultivars and species are evaluated in the National Cut Flower Trial Programs administered by North Carolina State University and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Stems of promising and productive cultivars from the National Trial Program were pretreated with either a commercial hydrating solution or deionized (DI) water and placed in either a commercial holding solution or DI water. Over 8 years, the vase life of 121 cultivars representing 47 cut flower genera was determined. Although there was cultivar variation within each genus, patterns of postharvest responses have emerged. The largest category, with 53 cultivars, was one in which a holding preservative increased vase life of the following genera and species: acidanthera (Gladiolus murielae), basil (Ocimum basilicum), bee balm (Monarda hybrid), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hybrids), campanula (Campanula species), celosia (Celosia argentea), common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), coral bells (Heuchera hybrids), feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), ladybells (Adenophora hybrid), lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), lobelia (Lobelia hybrids), obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum), pincushion flower (Scabiosa atropurpurea), pinkflower (Indigofera amblyantha), seven-sons flower (Heptacodium miconioides), shasta daisy (Leucanthemum superbum), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), sweet william (Dianthus hybrids), trachelium (Trachelium caeruleum), and zinnia (Zinnia elegans). Hydrating preservatives increased the vase life of four basils, coral bells, and sunflower cultivars. The combined use of hydrator and holding preservatives increased the vase life of three black-eyed susan, seven-sons flower, and sunflower cultivars. Holding preservatives reduced the vase life of 14 cultivars of the following genera and species: ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum), false queen anne's lace (Ammi species), knotweed (Persicaria hybrid), lisianthus, pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa), sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), yarrow (Achillea millifolium), and zinnia. Hydrating preservatives reduced the vase life of 18 cultivars of the following genera and species: feverfew, lisianthus, ornamental pepper, pineapple lily, seven-sons flower, shasta daisy, sneezeweed, sweet william, sunflower, trachelium, yarrow, and zinnia. The combined use of hydrating and holding preservatives reduced the vase life of 12 cultivars in the following genera and species: false queen anne's lace, feverfew, pincushion flower, sneezeweed, sunflower, trachelium, yarrow, and zinnia. Data for the remaining 50 cultivars were not significant among the treatments; these genera and species included beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), black-eyed susan, blue mist (Caryopteris clandonensis), calendula (Calendula officinalis), campanula, cleome (Cleome hasserliana), common ninebark, dahlia (Dahlia hybrids), delphinium (Delphinium hybrids), flowering peach (Prunus persica forma versicolor), heliopsis (Heliopsis helianthoides), hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa), hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), larkspur (Consolida hybrids), lily of the nile (Agapanthus hybrid), lisianthus, lobelia, ornamental pepper, pineapple lily, scented geranium (Pelargonium hybrid), sunflower, sweet william, and zinnia.

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