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Iftikhar Ahmad and John M. Dole

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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Iftikhar Ahmad, John M. Dole, Atyab Amjad and Sagheer Ahmad

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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Iftikhar Ahmad, Brian E. Whipker and John M. Dole

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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Iftikhar Ahmad, John M. Dole and Bruno T. Favero

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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Iftikhar Ahmad, John M. Dole and Frank A. Blazich

Effects of harvest time (morning, noon, or afternoon) on water uptake, fresh weight changes, termination symptoms, leaf relative water content (LRWC), carbohydrate status, and vase life of cut ‘ABC Purple’ lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum Salisb.), ‘Double Eagle’ African Gold Coin Series marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), and ‘Deep Red’ Benary’s Giant Series zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq.) were studied. For stems of lisianthus harvested and then stored in the dark with the basal ends in water for 2 weeks at 3 ± 1 °C, those harvested at noon (1200 hr to 1300 hr) or in the afternoon (1700 hr to 1800 hr) had longer vase life compared with stems harvested in the morning (0700 hr to 0800 hr). However, stems of lisianthus evaluated without storage had no differences in vase life. Stems of marigold harvested in the afternoon had longer vase life than morning- or noon-harvested stems. Time of harvest had no effect on cut flower longevity of zinnia. However, vase life was considerably shorter for stems of all species when tested after 2 weeks storage compared with freshly harvested stems. Stems of zinnia harvested at noon had lower LRWC than morning- or afternoon-harvested stems. Marigold stems harvested in the afternoon and evaluated without storage had lowest LRWC on Day 7 of vase life. Harvest time or storage did not influence LRWC of lisianthus. Stems of marigold and lisianthus harvested at noon or in the afternoon had higher levels of carbohydrates compared with morning-harvested stems, whereas freshly harvested stems had higher concentrations of glucose and sucrose, which decreased during storage or the vase period. Sucrose concentrations varied more significantly among various tissues than other sugars presumably as a result of translocation during vase life. In summary, carbohydrate status of stems harvested at different times of the day varied greatly and affected postharvest longevity of cut marigold and lisianthus, but not zinnia.

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Iftikhar Ahmad, John M. Dole, M. Aslam Khan, M. Qasim, Tanveer Ahmad and A.S. Khan

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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Iftikhar Ahmad, Muhammad B. Rafiq, John M. Dole, Bilal Abdullah and Kinza Habib

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.