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Ria T. Leonard and Terril A. Nell

Several pulse solutions were tested for their effectiveness in preventing leaf senescence on four cut oriental lily cultivars (Lilium sp. `Acapulco', `Kissproof', `Noblesse' and `Star Gazer'). Stems were pulsed 24 hours after harvest for 1 hour, stored in boxes in the dark for 5 days at 3 °C (37.4 °F) then evaluated in postharvest conditions. A new commercial product called Chrysal BVB, a proprietary mixture manufactured by Pokon & Chrysal (Miami) containing cytokinine and gibberellic acids, was the most effective product tested. Chrysal BVB [1 mL·L–1 (0.1%)] prevented leaf chlorosis and abscission on `Acapulco' and `Noblesse' and significantly reduced it by 82% on `Star Gazer' and by 69% on `Kissproof'. Stems pulsed in Fascination, a commercial mixture containing 1.8% gibberellins (GA4+7) and 1.8% benzyladenine [5.4 mg·L–1 (ppm) each], virtually prevented leaf chlorosis on `Noblesse', reduced it by 50% or more on `Acapulco' and `Star Gazer', and significantly delayed it 8 days on `Kissproof'. A 10 μm (2 ppm) pulse in thidiazuron, a substituted phenylurea with cytokinin-like properties, delayed leaf chlorosis on `Star Gazer' but to a lesser extent compared to BVB and Fascination. Chrysal SVB, a propri-etary mixture manufactured by Pokon & Chrysal containing gibberellic acid, had no effect on reducing leaf chlorosis on `Star Gazer'. None of the pulse solutions had adverse effects on bud opening, flower quality or vase life. Maintaining stems in a bulb flower preservative significantly reduced leaf chlorosis and abscission in all cultivars when stems were not pretreated with a pulse solution or when a pulse solution was ineffective.

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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard and James E. Barrett

Production irradiance levels on growth, light compensation point (LCP), dark respiration (DR), and interior longevity of potted chrysanthemum (Demfranthema grandiflora Tzvelev. cvs. Iridon and Mountain Peak) and poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Wind. cvs. Annette Hegg Dark Red and Gutbier V-10 Amy) were determined. LCP and DR were measured at anthesis and during acclimatization to interior conditions (10 μmol·s-1·m-2). Days to flowering, inflorescence diameter, total chlorophyll, and interior longevity of chrysanthemum increased when maintained at a mean maximum photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 500 μmol·s-1·m-2 compared to plants shifted to 300 or 100 μmol·s-1·m-2 8 weeks after planting. LCP and DR were highest at anthesis and were reduced 38% and 49%, respectively, for chrysanthemum and 19% and 42%, respectively, for poinsettia within 3 days in interior conditions. Chrysanthemum plants shifted to 300 μmol·s1·m-2 during production had lower LCP and DR rates at anthesis and throughout time in interior conditions compared to plants maintained at 500 μmol·s-1·m-2. The acclimatization of chrysanthemum to reduced production PPFD is of little significance because interior longevity is reduced. No differences were found in the LCP or DR of poinsettia or chrysanthemum cultivars that differ in interior performance, demonstrating that these physiological characteristics are not good indicators of interior longevity for chrysanthemum and poinsettia.

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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard and James E. Barrett

Postproduction characteristics of the new poinsettia cultivar `Freedom', as influenced by production and postproduction treatments, were evaluated. In one study, plants were grown under three production irradiance levels consisting of 450, 675 or 900 μmol s-1m-2 at 18/24C or 22/28C night/day temperatures and moved at anthesis to postproduction conditions (10 μmol s-1m-2 for 12 hr/day, 21±2C). Anthesis was delayed, plant height and diameter decreased, and a reduction in the number and development of cyathia occurred when maintained at low production temperature and irradiance. Leaf drop, which was minimal after 30 days postproduction (< 25%), was unaffected by production treatments, while cyathia drop was accelerated by low production irradiance and temperature, but not reduced after 30 days.

Leaf retention and quality in postproduction conditions are excellent. Cyathia drop averages 40 to 50% after 2 weeks in postproduction conditions. Bracts and leaves maintain their color well, with only slight fading after 30 days. Plants exhibit slight epinasty after shipping, but recover within a couple of days. These characteristics of `Freedom' make it a promising variety for the future.

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Terril A. Nell, James E. Barrett and Ria T. Leonard

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Andrew J. Macnish, Ria T. Leonard and Terril A. Nell

The postharvest longevity of fresh-cut flowers is often limited by the accumulation of bacteria in vase water and flower stems. Aqueous chlorine dioxide is a strong biocide with potential application for sanitizing cut flower solutions. We evaluated the potential of chlorine dioxide to prevent the build-up of bacteria in vase water and extend the longevity of cut Matthiola incana `Ruby Red', Gypsophila paniculata `Crystal' and Gerbera jamesonii `Monarch' flowers. Fresh-cut flower stems were placed into sterile vases containing deionized water and either 0.0 or 2 μL·L–1 chlorine dioxide. Flower vase life was then judged at 21 ± 0.5 °C and 40% to 60% relative humidity. Inclusion of 2 μL·L–1 chlorine dioxide in vase water extended the longevity of Matthiola, Gypsophila and Gerbera flowers by 2.2, 3.5, and 3.4 days, respectively, relative to control flowers (i.e., 0 μL·L–1). Treatment with 2 μL·L–1 chlorine dioxide reduced the build-up of aerobic bacteria in vase water for 6 to 9 days of vase life. For example, addition of 2 μL·L–1 chlorine dioxide to Gerbera vase water reduced the number of bacteria that grew by 2.4- to 2.8-fold, as compared to control flower water. These results confirm the practical value of chlorine dioxide treatments to reduce the accumulation of bacteria in vase water and extend the display life of cut flowers.

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Andrew J. Macnish, Ria T. Leonard and Terril A. Nell

Exposure to 0.1, 1.0, or 10 μL·L−1 ethylene for 4 days at 21 °C reduced the display life of 17 commonly traded potted foliage plant genotypes (Aglaonema ‘Mary Ann’, Anthurium scherzerianum ‘Red Hot’ and ‘White Gemini’, Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Dania’, Chlorophytum comosum ‘Hawaiian’, Codiaeum variegatum pictum ‘Petra’, Dieffenbachia maculata ‘Carina’, Dracaena marginata ‘Bicolor’ and ‘Magenta’, Euphorbia milii ‘Gaia’, Euphorbia splendens ‘Short and Sweet’, Ficus benjamina, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Castor’, Radermachera sinica ‘China Doll’, Schefflera elegantissima ‘Gemini’, Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’, Spathiphyllum ‘Ty's Pride’). Ethylene treatment hastened leaf and bract abscission or senescence. The responsiveness of plants to ethylene varied considerably; six genotypes were sensitive to 0.1 μL·L−1 ethylene, whereas three genotypes required exposure to 10 μL·L−1 ethylene to trigger visible injury. Four genotypes (Asplenium nidus, Chamaedorea elegans ‘Neathe Bella’, Hedera helix ‘Chicago’, Syngonium podophyllum ‘White Butterfly’) included in our study were insensitive to ethylene. Treating Aglaonema ‘Mary Ann’, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Castor’, and Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’ plants with 0.9 μL·L−1 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP, provided as EthylBloc™), a gaseous ethylene-binding inhibitor, for 4 to 5 h at 21 °C reduced the deleterious effects of ethylene. The release of 1-MCP from two sachets containing EthylBloc™ into a single shipping box also protected Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Dania’, Euphorbia milii ‘Gaia’, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Elegans’, and Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’ plants from ethylene injury after simulated transport. Our data reveal the genetic variation in ethylene sensitivity among potted foliage plants and highlight genotypes that benefit from 1-MCP treatment.

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Ria T. Leonard, Amy M. Alexander and Terril A. Nell

This study examined three transport systems used to transport fresh, non-stored cut flowers from Bogotá, Colombia, to the United States on a monthly basis for 1 year. Five cultivars of cut rose (Rosa hybrida), alstroemeria (Alstroemeria peruviana), carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), and gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii) were commercially transported using a 7-day conventional distribution system with temperature controls and two rapid transport systems (3-day or 24-hour) with little or no temperature controls, respectively. Temperatures during the 24-hour transport system increased steadily and temperatures were at or above 10 °C for ≈18 h, with half of that time above 15 °C for all shipments. The 3- and 7-day systems had temperature fluctuations ranging from 3 to 24 °C and 3 to 19 °C, respectively. Flowers transported using the rapid transport systems had a significantly longer vase life compared with the 7-day transport in 83% of the shipments of alstroemeria and roses, in 58% of the shipments of carnations, and in 50% of the shipments of gerberas. Vase life increased 5.6% to 17.1% (0.7 to 2.1 days) for roses, 3.2% to 16.7% (0.5 to 2.7 days) for alstroemerias, 12.8% to 34.6% (1.1 to 6.2 days) for gerberas, and 4.6% to 8.8% (1.1 to 2.3 days) for carnations when using the rapid transport systems compared with the 7-day transport system. Some cultivars were more tolerant of the longer transport. The results show that when using fresh, non-stored flowers, the rapid transport systems had equal or longer vase life than the 7-day transport system in the majority of shipments for each flower species. Results also demonstrate that better temperature management during transport is a critical issue in the floral industry that needs to be improved upon.

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Andrew J. Macnish, Ria T. Leonard and Terril A. Nell

The vase life of many cut flowers is often limited by bacterial occlusion of stem bases. In this study, we tested the efficacy of a novel antimicrobial agent, aqueous chlorine dioxide (ClO2), to extend the longevity of cut Gerbera flowers by reducing the number of bacteria in vase water. Commercially mature and freshly cut Gerbera jamesonii `Monarck' flowers were placed into clean vases containing deionized water and 0, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 μL·L-1 ClO2. Stems were then maintained in solutions at 21 ± 0.5 °C and 42 ± 11% relative humidity until the end of vase life. Inclusion of 2, 5, and 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 in vase water had beneficial effects on flower longevity. For instance, treatment with 5 and 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 extended flower longevity by 1.4-fold or 3.7 days, as compared to control flowers (0 μL·L-1 ClO2). In contrast, exposure to the higher concentrations of 20 and 50 μL·L-1 ClO2 did not extend flower vase life. Relative to control flowers, treatment with 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 delayed the onset of detectable bacterial colonization of vase solutions from day 3 to day 6 of vase life. However, this ClO2 treatment did not reduce the number of bacteria that subsequently accumulated in vase water as compared to control flowers. Treatment with 10 μL·L-1 ClO2 also increased rates of solution uptake by stems and reduced the loss of flower fresh weight over time. These results highlight the potential use of ClO2 treatments to extend the postharvest longevity of Gerbera flowers.

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Oswaldo Macz, Ellen T. Paparozzi, Walter W. Stroup, Terril A. Nell and Ria Leonard

Research on hydroponically grown mums showed that nitrogen (N) levels applied can be reduced when adequate sulfur (S) is also applied. However, changes in stem length, leaf area, and time-to-fl ower can be affected. Our goal was to evaluate whether reduced N levels in combination with S would affect commercial production and post-harvest longevity of pot mums. `White Diamond' was grown in a peat:perlite:vermiculite medium following a commercial production schedule. N levels applied were 50, 100, 150 and 200 mg/L. S levels were 0, 5, 10, 20, and 80 mg/L. The treatment design was a complete factorial 4 × 5 with 20 treatment combinations. The experimental design was a split-plot with N levels as the whole-plot and S levels as the split-plot factor. Variables measured were plant height, leaf area, days to bud set, days to first color, and days to flower opening. Plants were ship to the Univ. of Florida for postharvest evaluation. Data were analyzed using SAS PROC MIXED AND PROC REG. N and S interactions were significant for all variables measured except flower longevity. Plants receiving 0 mg/L S did not produce inflorescences, had shorter stems, and less leaf area regardless of N levels. Plants receiving 50 mg/L N and some S produced inflorescences, but were of inferior quality to plants receiving 100, 150, and 200 mg/L N. Plants receiving 200 mg/L N and 80 mg/L S showed breakdown of plant architecture. Plants of commercial quality were obtained at 100, 150, and 200 mg/L N in combination with either 5, 10, or 20 mg/L S.

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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, Jim E. Barrett and David G. Clark

Production and postproduction factors were examined to evaluate effects on postproduction performance and longevity of several varieties of potted African violets, carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hibiscus, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Various N rates (150–600 ppm) and fertilizer termination 2 to 3 weeks prior to flowering were evaluated. Chrysanthemums, hydrangea, and lisianthus had better quality and longevity at N rates ranging from 200 to 300 ppm, while all other crops performed best at 150 ppm N. Terminating fertilizer had no effect on longevity or quality of carnation, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, or kalanchoe, while chrysanthemum and cyclamen had a significant increase in longevity when terminated. Lisianthus had an increase in quality and longevity when fertilizer was continued to the end of production. Shipping at the proper bud developmental stage significantly influenced flower opening and longevity in the postharvest environment. Lisianthus and hydrangea need to have at least 75% of the buds fully opened, while carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, and kalanchoe need at least 25% to 50% open. Hiemalis begonia, a very long-lasting potted plant, tolerated a range of 10% to 75% open flowers at shipping. Optimum transport temperature and transport duration varied for each crop. Generally, transporting for 3 days at 2 to 7 °C was best for carnation, chrysanthemum, and gerbera, while transporting at 7 to 12 °C was best for cyclamen, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Hibiscus performed best when transported at 18 °C. Longevity and quality were maximized when maintained at 18 to 21 °C at 14 μmol·m–2·s–1. Differences in variety performance was a major factor in postproduction performance.