Trivellini - Postproduction physiology of flowering potted plants

Alice Trivellini*
Dipartimento Biologia delle Piante Agrarie, Università di Pisa

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Key words: quality, ornamental plants, storage, transport, hormone.

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Abstract

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The ornamental industries have to deal with very competitive word wide economic trade. The longevity and postproduction quality of ornamental plants are the most important factors for successful commercialization. Among the floriculture products, the potted flowering plants are very sensitive to quality losses during storage, distribution chain and retailer exposition. The environment changes after the cultivation stage strongly affect the post-production quality and life. The quality of flowering potted plants depends on the number of flowers and their longevity, the plant size, the absence of blemishes caused by mechanical damage and insect or disease infestation. Usually the plants stage of commercialization is the full flowering time. At the same time it is the most delicate stage for the ornamental quality. During flowering, plants need high quantity of carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis and energy required for respiration. Flowers represent a strong energy sink on plants, and their development and turnover require optimal environmental conditions. The production practices that guarantee a rapid plant growth and development, and also the handling procedures used by the shipper and retailer, directly affected the postproduction quality and longevity of flowering potted plants. Potted plants are cultivated under optimal condition of light, temperature, humidity and nutrition. Thus, during transportation and storage, the changes in light intensity, humidity and temperature determine a deterioration of the quality. In order to protect plants against dropping of buds and flowers, the yellowing of leaves and the extensive shoot elongation, plants must be acclimatized at the end of the cultivation period. Stress conditions, that occur during transportation and storage of flowering potted plants, also alter the hormone equilibrium and, in particular, stimulate ethylene biosynthesis. The increase in ethylene production leads to rapid senescence or abscission of buds, flowers and leaves. The application of ethylene perception or biosynthesis inhibitors enhances the longevity and the postproduction quality of flowering potted plants. Moreover, adjusting transport and storage conditions to the needs of particular plants helps to ensure good quality upon delivery to the final consumer. Understanding the physiological disorders of different species which occur during cultivation period and handling procedures allow to identify postproduction treatments to maximize the life of the flowering potted plants. This article reviews the postproduction physiology of potted flowering plants and discuss the environmental conditions and cultural practices used during production and the handling procedures that affect the quality of these products.

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