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Uttara C. Samarakoon, Keith A. Funnell, David J. Woolley and Edward R. Morgan

The time to harvest maturity of flowering shoots and the extent and source of variability in maturity dates differed among cultivars of gentian (Gentiana sp.), with a wider spread in time to harvest maturity in Showtime Starlet (41 days) than Showtime Diva (35 days) and Showtime Spotlight (29 days). Cultivars also differed by more than twice in their plant-to-plant variability in time to harvest. Although later-emerging shoots reached harvest maturity more quickly than earlier-emerging shoots, the use of growing degree-days (GDD) for this field-grown cut flower did not account for differences. For ‘Showtime Diva’, 77% of outliers reached harvest maturity at the beginning of the season (i.e., before the 10th percentile). For ‘Showtime Spotlight’, only 20% of shoots classified as outliers flowered early with the remaining 80% emerging late (i.e., after the 90th percentile). Strategies to control the spread in time to harvest maturity in late-maturing cultivars such as Showtime Starlet should focus on uniform shoot emergence and controlling temperature during growth. Although strategies to achieve uniform shoot emergence should also be targeted for ‘Showtime Diva’, controlling temperature during the growing season would not appear to offer significant control of the spread in time of harvesting floral shoots. However, in earlier-maturing cultivars such as Showtime Spotlight, strategies will primarily require a greater understanding of the factors influencing the variability in maturation of shoots within individual plants before, and after, emergence.