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  • Author or Editor: Michelle L. Jones x
  • HortTechnology x
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Drought stress during shipping and retailing reduces the postproduction quality and marketability of potted plants. Plants respond to drought stress by closing their stomata and reducing transpirational water loss. This stress response is mediated by the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA). Exogenous applications of s-abscisic acid (s-ABA), the biologically active form of the hormone, can enhance drought tolerance and extend shelf life in a variety of bedding plants. However, little is known about the effectiveness of s-ABA at enhancing drought tolerance in perennial crops like chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×morifolium). ‘Festive Ursula’ chrysanthemum plants were drenched (0, 125, 250, or 500 mg·L−1) or sprayed (0, 500, or 1000 mg·L−1) with s-ABA. All applications containing s-ABA effectively delayed wilting by reducing stomatal conductance (g S). Shelf life was extended from 1.2 to 4.0 days depending on the concentration of s-ABA. Spray applications of 500 mg·L−1 s-ABA to six additional chrysanthemum cultivars increased shelf life from 1.6 to 3.8 days following drought stress. s-ABA treatment also allowed severely drought-stressed chrysanthemums to recover and remain marketable after rewatering. Growers can treat chrysanthemums with s-ABA to reduce water use during shipping and to delay wilting if plants are not adequately watered during retailing.

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Deciduous holly branches were visually rated over a period of 5 weeks to evaluate differences in display life between various cultivars of winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and japanese winterberry (I. serrata) x winterberry. Holly branches were naturally defoliated and the postharvest performance of the cut branches was therefore based on the quality and longevity of the fruit. Chemical treatments including floral preservative, floral preservative plus silver, and anti-transpirant were also evaluated. `Bonfire' and `Sunset' had the highest ratings for marketability based on the longevity and quality of their fruit. `Bonfire' and `Winter Red' had the highest fruit density per stem. Treatment with floral preservatives significantly increased the display life of holly branches. Preservative plus silver delayed deterioration later in the study, presumably by delaying the senescence of the fruit. Anti-transpirant treatment did not decrease solution uptake by the holly stems. Cold storage of dry branches at 0.00 ± 1.11 °C (32.0 ± 2.0 °F) did not significantly reduce branch display life if held for 23 days or less. Cut branches of all cultivars had a longer display life when stuck in sand and left outdoors in a lath house than when rated in vase solutions indoors. This study indicates that deciduous holly branches provide an attractive alternative cut branch for both interior and outdoor holiday displays.

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