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  • Author or Editor: Iftikhar Ahmad x
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Effects of homemade or commercial floral preservatives, applied as 48-hour grower treatment or continuous retailer/consumer application, were studied on cut ‘ABC Blue’ lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), ‘Maryland Plumblossom’ snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), ‘Mid Cheerful Yellow’ stock (Matthiola incana), and ‘Deep Red’ Benary’s zinnia (Zinnia violacea). Cut stems were placed in solutions containing 500 mL·L−1 lemon/lime soda (soda); 6 mL·L−1 lemon juice plus 20 g·L−1 sugar (lemon juice); 100 mg·L−1 citric acid plus 20 g·L−1 sugar plus 200 mg·L−1 aluminum sulfate (C-AS); 400 mg·L−1 citric acid plus 20 g·L−1 sugar alone (citric acid), or combined with either 0.5 mL·L−1 quaternary ammonium chloride (C-QA), or 0.007 mL·L−1 isothiazolinone (C-IS); 10 mL·L−1 Floralife Clear Professional Flower Food (Floralife); or 10 mL·L−1 Chrysal Clear Professional 2 (Chrysal), dissolved in tap water, which was also used as control without any added compound. Cut stems of lisianthus and stock had longest vase lives (22.1 and 12.7 days, respectively) when placed in C-IS continuously, while snapdragon and zinnia stems had longest vase lives (22.3 and 16.3 days, respectively) when placed in C-QA solution continuously. Continuous use of soda extended vase life of cut lisianthus, snapdragon, and stock stems, but not zinnia, compared with tap water. Citric acid extended the vase life of lisianthus and stock when used continuously and of zinnia when used for 48 hours. Use of C-AS or lemon juice either had no effect or reduced vase life of the tested species, except lemon juice increased zinnia vase life when used as a 48-hour treatment. Stems of lisianthus, stock, and zinnia placed continuously in C-IS, C-QA, or citric acid had high solution uptake. No significant differences were observed for vase life of all tested species with short duration (48 hours) application of solutions, except 48-hour use of citric acid or lemon juice increased zinnia vase life compared with tap water. Overall, continuous vase application of the homemade preservatives resulted in longer vase life extension than 48-hour treatment. Among tested preservative recipes, C-IS, C-QA, soda, or citric acid demonstrated best postharvest performance of tested species. However, recipes containing C-AS or lemon juice had detrimental effects and should not be used for handling cut stems of tested species.

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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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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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Growers have traditionally used mechanical pinching and other cultural practices to control height and encourage branching for full and uniform poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants. A total of six experiments were conducted over 5 years to evaluate the impact of chemically treating poinsettia on final height, branching, first color, visible bud formation, and anthesis. The first four experiments evaluated the potential of benzyladenine (BA) and gibberellins [GA(4+7)] to increase height of treated poinsettia. Timing of the application was assessed during Expt. 1 using a combined concentration of 3 ppm BA and 3 ppm GA(4+7) applied at 5, 7, 9, or 11 weeks after pinching; some cultivars exhibited significantly more elongated inflorescences when treatment occurred 7 or 9 weeks after pinching. The application method and frequency was assessed during Expt. 2, and treatments were applied one or three times with either drench application at a concentration of 2 ppm or foliar application at a concentration of 5 ppm or untreated controls. All plants treated with three drench applications produced taller plants on average than when only applied once or when treated with a foliar application. Expt. 3 further assessed height gain and effects on flowering during late-season production with foliar applications of BA+GA(4 + 7) applied 2 weeks after first color at a concentration of 2 ppm compared with untreated control plants. One cultivar, Mars Red, was observed to have a significant decrease in days to anthesis when treated (9 days) compared with untreated plants, but no cultivars exhibited a significant change in height resulting from treatment. Expt. 4 assessed both the application method (foliar and drench) and change in final environment when plants were either maintained in a greenhouse or relocated to a postharvest room before anthesis. Most cultivars experienced a significant height increase when treated with foliar application of BA+GA(4 + 7) regardless of the final environment, but a significant delay in days to first color, visible bud, and anthesis was prevalent, and only one cultivar exhibited a treatment benefit from drench application with no significant delay in flowering or differences caused by changing environment. Expts. 5 and 6 were conducted over 2 growing years to evaluate the benefits of chemically pinching poinsettia using dikegulac sodium at a concentration of 800 ppm applied either once or twice (1 week apart) or 1600 ppm applied once to promote branching. The tallest plants were those treated one time at a concentration of 800 ppm showing lack of dominance in the apical meristem. The greatest number of shoots occurred when plants were treated with 800 ppm twice, whereas one application of 800 or 1600 ppm often, but not always, resulted in more shoots compared with mechanically pinched plants. Interestingly, the increased number of shoots from treated plants was often more than double the number compared with mechanical pinching, but those additional shoots failed to develop, which resulted in only one or two additional inflorescences. Production time was found to be a tradeoff because most dikegulac sodium-treated plants experienced an increased number of days to first color, visible bud, and/or anthesis. These results demonstrate that height control, whether to encourage stem elongation or halt apical dominance, is cultivar-specific, and that although both the method and concentration may be determined uniformly on some cultivars, the timing of application is crucial because of potential delays in floral development.

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Present status and future prospects of cut rose (Rosa ×hybrida) flower production and postharvest management in Punjab, Pakistan, were investigated. Cut roses were the leading flower crop in the area under study, but production systems and practices were outdated and primitive, resulting in cut stems that were not acceptable in international markets. The majority of growers (65%) had only basic education (grade 10 or less) and 57% had small landholdings (<1 ha); therefore, they did not have modern production techniques and resources for high-quality cut rose production. Moreover, lack of production and postharvest facilities, ignorance of both public and private resources, and poor production and postharvest practices were prevalent. Growers' training regarding production and postharvest management would be required to lift the quality standards of this industry up to the international level. However, a positive trend was observed in cut rose businesses as more than half of growers (52%) entered into the business during last 5 years. In addition, 30% of growers were in business over 10 years, indicating that cut rose production can provide a sustained income for producers. This analysis of the cut rose industry in Punjab can serve as a model for other countries whose cut flowers industries are at a similar stage of development.

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Favorable agro-climatic conditions and comparatively cheaper and readily available human resources offer a promising business opportunity to cut flower production in Pakistan. Presently, growers are limited to traditional cut flower crops such as rose (Rosa hybrids), gladiolus (Gladiolus hybrids), marigold (Tagetes erecta), and tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) because of unavailability of improved new species and cultivars. To diversify cut flower production in Pakistan, a study was conducted to evaluate the production and postharvest performance of different cultivars of delphinium (Delphinium hybrids), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), and stock (Matthiola incana) in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan. ‘Guardian White’ delphinium had the shortest time to harvest first marketable stems (160 days) with comparatively shorter stems (87.7 cm). Whereas ‘Aurora White’ and ‘Aurora Blue’ were high-temperature tolerant and produced attractive racemes with longer stems; 112.0 and 99.7 cm, respectively. All cultivars lasted about 7 days in distilled water (DW). ‘Cheerful White’ stock had the shortest cropping time and produced highest quality double flowers with longest stems (51.8 cm) compared with other cultivars tested. Vase solution of 4% sucrose supplemented with 100 mg·L−1 silver nitrate (AgNO3) extended the vase life of ‘Cheerful White’ stock up to 11.8 days compared with 8.2 days in DW. Pulsing with 10% sucrose supplemented with 100 mg·L−1 AgNO3 extended the longevity of ‘Lucinda Dark Rose Double’ stock (10.2 days) similar to vase solution of 4% sucrose plus 100 mg·L−1 AgNO3; however, ‘Lucinda Dark Rose Double’ stock produced shorter stems than ‘Cheerful White’. ‘Appleblossom’ snapdragon produced >10 marketable stems per plant with highest quality attractive flowers, and stout stems, which lasted 10.8 days in 4% sucrose vase solution supplemented with 100 mg·L−1 AgNO3. Among tested species/cultivars, all exotic species/cultivars produced uniform high quality stems resulting in higher productivity as compared with local cultivars and were favorably appraised by flower growers/retailers and are best suited for diversification of local cut flower industry.

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