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- Author or Editor: Paul J. Collins x
In the floriculture trade, cut pepper (Capsicum annuum) stems are typically grown for their fruit to add color contrast to the foliage and blossoms of conventional floral arrangements. Stems are commonly stripped of foliage because leaves wilt rapidly. Three divergent plant types and commercial hydration protection spray products were evaluated to identify effective vase life treatments and new pepper lines that combine both fruit and foliar interest with an acceptable postharvest cut stem life. Three inbred US Department of Agriculture pepper breeding lines with a tall vigorous growth habit and black foliage were selected for evaluation as cut stems. Line 190-2 produced upright, tabasco-like fruit; 191-1 produced upright, clustered, round fruit; and 196-1 was fruitless. Three commercial spray treatments Crowning Glory (FLCG), Finishing Touch, and Aqua Finish Clear (AFC) were evaluated on treated cut stems stored at 10 and 23 °C. The pepper breeding line had the greatest influence on cut stem foliage and fruit vase life. The fruitless line, 196-1 exhibited an extended vase life in comparison with fruited lines. Cold storage extended the vase life of cut stems. FLCG reduced foliage vase life at 23 °C, and AFC extended foliage vase life of the fruitless line 196-1. Relative to foliage, fruit exhibited greater resistance to desiccation, with glossier fruit of 191-1 desiccating more rapidly than fruit of 190-2. Similar trends were noted when cut stems were stored at 10 °C for 7 days and moved to 23 °C. However, in 2022 trials, the vase life of 190-2 was shortened, and those of 191-1 and 196-1 were extended, highlighting the influence of preharvest factors on vase life. The results demonstrate that cut stems of new pepper lines with vigorous upright growth habits and black-pigmented foliage, together with diverse fruit morphology, provide innovative possibilities for stunning cut flower arrangements.