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Muhammed Maqbool and Arthur C. Cameron

Field-grown plants of Alcea rosea (L.) Cav. (hollyhock), Asparagus officinalis L., Coreopsis grandiflora Hogg ex Sweet `Sunray', Dicentra spectabilis (L.) Lem. (bleeding heart), Gaillardia ×grandiflora Van Houtte `Baby Cole', Lupinus polyphyllus Lindl. `Russell Hybrids', and Phlox subulata L. `Emerald Pink' harvested as bare-root crowns in late fall were packaged in polyethylene-lined crates and stored for 6 months. There were no significant differences in the regrowth performance of any of the perennials following storage at 0 or -2C. The amount of surface covered by fungal hyphae (surface mold) increased more than 2-fold between 4 and 6 months of storage at 0 or -2C on all species. Dicentra spectabilis and Alcea rosea were most susceptible to mold growth during storage. Alcea rosea and Coreopsis grandiflora stored poorly at all storage temperatures. In a second experiment, the regrowth performance of Artemisia schmidtiana Maxim `Silver Mound', Asclepias tuberosa L., Aster novae-angliae L., Centranthus ruber (L.) DC., Chrysanthemum superbum Bergmans ex. J. Ingram, Dicentra eximia (Ker-Gawl.) Torr., Dicentra spectabilis, Geum quellon Sweet `Mrs. Bradshaw', Hosta `Honeybells', and Lupinus polyphyllus was tested following 6 months of storage at temperatures between -10 and +5C. Regrowth performance was generally similar at -2, 0, and 5C for most species. The results indicated, however, that Centranthus ruber and Chrysanthemum ×superbum should not be stored at temperatures of -2C or below. Sufficient etiolated growth developed for most species when stored at 2C or above to cause problems during shipping, handling, and potting. In general, mold growth on crowns during storage did not reduce regrowth performance of the species tested.

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Ahmad Shirazi and Arthur C. Cameron

A method was developed to measure transpiration rates and apparent water-vapor permeability coefficients (P'H2O) of detached fruit using an analytical balance equipped with a humidity chamber, wide-range humidity-generating and sensing devices, and a datalogger. The system was designed to monitor weight changes with time and, hence, weight loss of individual fruit during exposure to specific relative humidities (RHs) and temperatures. Weight loss was corrected for loss due to respiratory exchange of 02 and CO2 before calculating P'H2O. Values of P'H2O for tomatoes obtained using this method over periods of 5 minutes to 24 hours ranged from 3 to 12 nmol·cm-2·s-1·kPa-1 at 20C, depending on the experimental conditions. These values are similar to previously published values and to those obtained in a conventional weight-loss experiment, which involved intermittent weighing. P'H20 for tomatoes dropped ≈15% in 24 hours. P'H20 increased with a transient increase in RH; the extent of the increase was variable from fruit to fruit, ranging from 5% to 100% over 30% to 90% RH. The change was reversible in that P'H2O increased and decreased within minutes following shifts in RH. Similar changes were found for strawberry P'H20. The increase in P'H2O may be due, in part, to a direct effect of water vapor on the water transport properties of the cuticular polymer and surface temperature depression as a result of evaporative cooling. At 50% RH and 20C, water vapor diffuses from tomatoes 50 times faster than O2 enters on a molar basis. This information will be useful for modeling RH changes in modified-atmosphere packages.

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Ahmad Shirazi and Arthur C. Cameron

The feasibility of controlling relative humidity in modified atmosphere packages using compounds possessing Type III sorption isotherm behavior was studied. Ten grams each of dry sorbitol, xylitol, NaCl, KCl, or CaCl2 sealed with one maturegreen tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) fruit at 20C in simulated packages for 48 days resulted in stable relative humidities of ≈75%, 80%, 75%, 85%, and 35%, respectively. Relative humidity was a function of the ratio of chemical to fruit mass. Relative humidities within control packages were in the range of 96% to 100% throughout the experiments. A simple system that uses spunbonded polyethylene pouches for the application of this humidity control method to packages is described. The storage life of packaged red-ripe tomato fruit at 20C was extended from 5 days using no pouch to 15 to 17 days with a pouch containing NaCl, mainly by retardation of surface mold development.

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Diana L. Dostal and Arthur C. Cameron

Postharvest shelf life of fresh sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) at 5°C is only 3 to 4 d due to development of chilling injury symptoms. Plants chill-hardened at 10°C for 4 h daily (2 h at end of the light period and 2 h at the beginning of the dark period) for 2 d prior to harvest had 3 d extended shelf life at 5°C. Increasing the duration of preharvest chill-hardening did not further improve the shelf life. Plants were chill-hardened at 10°C for 4 h daily for one week at different periods during the day. Four-, 5- and 6-week-old basil were used in each of three consecutive runs. With the 4- and 5-week-old basil, chill-hardening at the beginning of the day extended average shelf life by 1 and 1.5 d at 5°C, respectively. Shelf life was either decreased or not affected by the other periods of preharvest chilling. Postharvest chill-hardening of packaged sweet basil for 1 d at 10°C before transfer to 5°C increased shelf life by 5 d. Postharvest chill-hardening has potential for reducing chilling injury of packaged sweet basil.

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Anne M. Hanchek and Arthur C. Cameron

The effect of harvest dates between September and December on regrowth after storage of field-grown Coreopsis grandiflora Hogg × Sweet `Sunburst' and `Sunray', Geum quellyon Sweet `Mrs. Bradshaw', Gypsophila paniculata L. `Snowflake', Iberis sempervirens L. `Snowflake', and Dicentra spectabilis (L.) Lem. crowns was determined. After 0 to 7 months of storage at 0C, stored crowns were repotted and grown in a greenhouse. Plants from later harvests were of higher quality than those from earlier harvests, showing higher rates of survival after longer storage periods, less mold development in storage, and stronger regrowth after storage. Late field harvest is recommended for optimum storage quality.

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P. Chowdary Talasila and Arthur C. Cameron

Flexible modified-atmosphere (MA) packages of fruits and vegetables can shrink or expand with time depending on the net flux of gas from the package to the surroundings. Excessive shrinkage can cause product damage if the tissue is fragile. However, reducing free volume should reduce the amount moisture loss and condensation. It would be useful to understand the factors that determine the rate and direction of free volume changes when applying MA packaging technology to fruits and vegetables. Free volume was measured in packages using a simple procedure based on dilution of injected ethane gas. The free volume in low-density polyethylene packages containing cut broccoli at 0C changed from 284 cc to 148 cc in 33 days. A computer model was developed to estimate changes in package free volume for different situations. The model predicted that the rate of shrinkage will be less if packages are flushed with a low permeable gas. Flushing with a highly permeable gas such as CO2 will increase the rate of shrinkage. The rate of package shrinkage will be less if made with films that have low permeability to N2.

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P. Chowdary Talasila and Arthur C. Cameron

Modified-atmosphere (MA) packages for fruits and vegetables are traditionally designed by matching product respiration rate with permeation of the packaging film to achieve a desired gas composition in the package. However, this design procedure is adequate only in ideal situations. We have previously shown that actual O2 partial pressures were distributed around targeted levels due to variation in product respiration rate and film permeability. In some cases, injurious levels of O2 were generated as a result of this variation. We have developed a procedure that incorporates variation of product respiration rate and uses a statistical approach to predict appropriate target levels. This approach includes a user-based decision as to how many packages with O2 partial pressures below the lower O2 limit for product injury can be tolerated. We have incorporated this approach into a user-friendly computer software using turbo pascal in MS DOS environment. This software is menu-driven and has graphical support. Use of the software will be demonstrated with examples.

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Diana D. Lange and Arthur C. Cameron

Shelf life (defined by visual quality) of freshly harvested greenhouse-grown sweet basil was maintained for an average of ≈ 12 days at 15C. Chilling injury symptoms were severe at storage temperatures of 5C and below. Shelf life was found to be only 1 and 3 days at 0 and 5C, respectively. Moderate chilling injury was noted at 7.5 and 10C. Harvesting sweet basil later in the day (i.e., 1800 or 2200 hr) increased shelf life by almost 100% when harvested shoots were held at 10, 15, and 20C, compared to harvesting at 0200 or 0600 hr. However, the time of day of harvest did not alter the development of visual chilling injury symptoms or improve shelf life at 0 or 5C.

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Beth A. Fausey and Arthur C. Cameron*

Many herbaceous perennials require vernalization although effective temperatures (ET) and durations for specific species are largely unknown. To investigate vernalization of Laurentia axillaris (Lindl.) E. Wimm. and Veronica spicata L. `Red Fox', vegetative plugs were stored at -2.5, 0.0, 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, 10.0, 12.5, 15.0, 17.5, and 20.0 °C for 0 to 15 weeks (Laurentia) or 0 to 8 weeks (Veronica). Following storage, plugs were grown in a 20 °C glass greenhouse with a 16-h photoperiod. Laurentia plugs did not survive storage at -2.5 or 0 °C. Survival varied for plants stored at 2.5 °C, and some plants flowered. ET and the minimum duration for 100% flowering of Laurentia were: 5 weeks at 5 to 10 °C and 10 weeks at 12.5 °C. Time to first visible bud and node number below first visible bud decreased with increasing duration at ET. Veronica plugs survived storage at all temperatures. 100% flowering occurred when plants were vernalized at -2.5 and 0 °C for 4 or more weeks, at 2.5 and 5.0 °C for 6 or more weeks, and at 7.5 °C for 8 weeks. Incomplete vernalization (19 to 93%) occurred at temperatures of 2.5 °C for 4 weeks, 5 °C for 4 or 6 weeks, 7.5 °C for 6 weeks and at 10 °C for 6 or 8 weeks. Vernalization did not occur above 10 °C or following 2 weeks storage at any temperature. The percentage of reproductive lateral shoots increased while node number below the inflorescence remained constant or decreased with increasing storage at ET. The results indicate distinct vernalization optima for the two species; Laurentia 5 to 10 °C, and Veronica -2.5 to 0 °C. These differences provide evidence that separate “thermometers” may be involved in vernalization perception.

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Sonali R. Padhye and Arthur C. Cameron

The flowering response of Dianthus gratianopolitanus Vill. ‘Bath's Pink’ was characterized after varying durations at vernalizing temperatures. Genetically identical clonally propagated plants were treated at 5 °C for 3, 6, 9, 12, or 15 weeks in Expt. I; at 0, 5, or 10 °C for 2, 4, 6, or 8 weeks in Expt. II; and at 0, 5, 10, or 15 °C for 1, 2, 4, 6, or 8 weeks in Expt. III. Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Bath's Pink’ exhibited a quantitative vernalization response after treatment at 0 to 10 °C and did not vernalize after 8 weeks at 15 °C, which was the longest duration tested. Complete flowering was achieved after 4 or more weeks at 0 °C, 3 or more weeks at 5 °C, and 8 weeks at 10 °C. Based on time to anthesis and node number at anthesis, the flowering response was saturated after vernalization treatment at 0 °C for 4 or more weeks and 5 °C for 3 or more weeks. However, maximum flowers at anthesis were produced after 8 weeks at 0 °C and 6 or more weeks at 5 °C. Flowering was delayed after the 8-week treatment at 10 °C compared with 6 or more weeks at 0 °C and 4 or more weeks at 5 °C. Based on the minimum vernalization duration required to achieve the maximum flowering response, the order of efficacy of vernalizing temperatures was 5 °C > 0 °C ≫ 10 °C.