Group Title: CFREC-Apopka research report - Central Florida Research and Education Center-Apopka ; RH-94-3
Title: Effects of moisture stress during simulated shipping on quality of Dracaena 'Massangeana', dwarf schefflera and weeping fig
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00065892/00001
 Material Information
Title: Effects of moisture stress during simulated shipping on quality of Dracaena 'Massangeana', dwarf schefflera and weeping fig
Series Title: CFREC-Apopka research report
Physical Description: 7 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Conover, Charles Albert, 1934-
Central Florida Research and Education Center--Apopka
Publisher: University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Central Florida Research and Education Center
Place of Publication: Apopka FL
Publication Date: 1994
 Subjects
Subject: Foliage plants -- Transportation -- Diseases and injuries -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Plant-water relationships -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 4).
Statement of Responsibility: C.A. Conover.
General Note: Caption title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00065892
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 70628038

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4L Central Florida Research
UNIVERSITY OF
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Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Research Report



Effects of Moisture Stress During Simulated Shipping on Quality of Dracaena
'Massangeana', Dwarf Schefflera and Weeping Fig 'son S ic

C.A. Conovert
CFREC-Apopka Research Report RH-94-3 SEP 3 0 1994

University of Florida
Summary

Growing medium moisture levels during simulated shipping/storage were important for
2 of 3 foliage plants tested. Schefflera arboricola (dwarf schefflera) with growing medium
moisture levels ranging from very wet to dry maintained original quality when examined
immediately after simulated shipment and again after time spent under indoor conditions. For
Ficus benjamin (weeping fig), only plants with growing medium very wet at shipping time
maintained original quality after simulated shipping and 10 days or 6 weeks under 125 ft-c. In
1 out of 2 experiments conducted, Dracaenafragrans 'Massangeana' (Dracaena 'Massangeana')
plant quality was shown to increase as growing medium moisture level during simulated shipping
decreased.

General shipping recommendations for foliage plants include maintaining growing
medium moisture levels around 50% so the medium feels moderately moist. However, when
following recommended acclimatization procedures for production and shipping, weeping fig and
Dracaena 'Massangeana' sometimes incur foliage damage during shipping.

In previous research, weeping fig dropped leaves when subjected to water stress under
production or indoor conditions. In numerous simulated shipping tests with Dracaena
'Massangeana', areas of collapsed foliage tissue were observed on a few plants that were
watered on the day simulated shipping treatments began. However, numbers of affected
Dracaena 'Massangeana' were never large enough to be statistically significant. The following
experiments were conducted to further study effects of growing medium moisture levels during
simulated shipping on quality of three foliage plant genera.






'Center Director and Professor of Environmental Horticulture, Central Florida Research
and Education Center-Apopka, 2807 Binion Road, Apopka, FL 32703.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE, HOME ECONOMICS, STATE OF FLORIDA, IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AND BOARDS OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COOPERATING.








Materials and Methods


Dracaena 'Massangeana', dwarf schefflera and weeping fig were used for both tests.
Experiment 1 was initiated on February 18, 1991, when excellent quality, finished plant material
grown in 15-cm (6-inch) pots (Dracaena 'Massangeana' and dwarf schefflera), or 25-cm (10-
inch) pots (weeping fig), was obtained from local growers. Plants had been grown in
commercial potting medium. Plants were placed in a shadehouse under 63% shade where they
were maintained for 4 weeks. Shadehouse air temperatures ranged from 60 to 90F and plants
were watered manually 3 to 4 times per week as needed. Plants were top-dressed with 5 g/15-
cm pot or 10 g/25-cm pot 19-6-12 Osmocote, on February 20, 1991.

Plants were last watered the day simulated shipping began or, 1, 4, 7 or 10 days before
simulated shipping. When watered for the final time before simulated shipping treatments
began, growing medium was saturated with water. Immediately before and after simulated
shipping, weeping fig plants were weighed, so that the weight of water lost from growing
medium and plant tissue could be determined.

During simulated shipping, starting on July 19, plants were stored in dark closed coolers
maintained at 60F. Two weeks later, on August 2, plants were removed from coolers,
weighed, graded based on a scale of 1 = dead, 2 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair quality,
salable, 4 = good quality and 5 = excellent quality, and placed in interior environment rooms
simulating typical indoor conditions. Cool white fluorescent bulbs provided 125 ft-c light
intensity for 12 hours daily and air temperatures ranged from 70 to 80F. Plants were watered
as needed to keep growing medium moderately moist. After 10 days in rooms, plants were
graded again. Leaf loss was included in overall weeping fig plant grades. Plant grades were
lowered as amount of foliage remaining on plants decreased.

Experiment 2 began on May 25, 1992, when excellent quality plants in 6-inch pots were
obtained from local growers. Plants were top-dressed with 5 g/6-inch pot 19-6-12 Osmocote,
then maintained in a shadehouse under the same environmental conditions described in
experiment 1. Plants received the same treatments as described in experiment 1. On July 26,
after 4 weeks under shadehouse conditions, plants were placed in dark closed coolers. On
August 10, 1992, plants were removed from coolers, graded and placed in rooms, again under
the same conditions described in experiment 1. On September 18, 1992, after 6 weeks in
rooms, plants received a final plant grade.

Results

In both experiments, dwarf schefflera were not affected by growing medium moisture
levels during simulated shipping. All dwarf schefflera maintained good quality after simulated
shipping and 10 days or 6 weeks under indoor conditions (data not shown).

Quality of weeping fig immediately after storage was better in both experiments when
plants were watered on the day of simulated shipping, or 1 day prior, compared to plants








watered farther from the beginning of simulated shipping. However, when plants were placed
indoors under 125 ft-c for 10 days after simulated shipping, best quality weeping fig were those
which had been watered on the day of simulated shipping (Table 1).

For weeping fig watered the day simulated shipping began, or 1 or 4 days before
beginning shipping, weight lost from the growing medium and plant tissues during simulated
shipping decreased as time of last watering prior to simulated shipping increased (Table 2).
However, weight loss from soil and tissue was similar for plants watered 4 or more days before
simulated shipping.

For Dracaena 'Massangeana' in experiment 1, plant quality after 10 days in rooms under
125 ft-c was not affected by watering schedule before simulated shipping and plants did not
appear damaged. In experiment 2, however, when plants were graded after 6 weeks indoors,
plant quality increased as number of days between the last watering and initiation of simulated
shipping increased (Table 3).

Conclusions

Dwarf schefflera tolerated a wide range of growing medium moisture levels during
simulated shipping/storage without loss of quality indicating plants would not be damaged if the
general recommendations for shipping foliage plants (moderately moist growing medium during
shipping) were followed.

Plant grade and weight results for weeping fig show that, under the conditions of these
tests, weeping fig quality was maintained only when plants were watered on the day simulated
shipping began. Both quality and weight loss during simulated shipping increased as watering
time before simulated shipping decreased, indicating soil moisture levels in containers of
weeping fig should be high during shipment.

In previous research, weeping fig was shown to have very low tolerance to moisture
stress (Peterson et al, 1981). As a survival mechanism, moisture stressed weeping figs formed
an abscission layer of cells at the point of petiole attachment on some leaves, shedding foliage
to decrease plant water requirements. The fact that plants could undergo moisture stress during
shipping, which would influence plant quality after interior installation, is an important
consideration for growers, shippers and interiorscapers. Therefore, weeping fig should be
watered on the day of shipping and immediately after placement into the interiorscape.

Dracaena 'Massangeana' in experiment 1 seemed unaffected by simulated shipping
treatments but in experiment 2, when plants were maintained under simulated indoor conditions
for 6 weeks, foliage damage decreased as length of time between watering and initiation of
simulated shipping increased. In previous experiments, we often observed similar damage (areas
of collapsed tissue in foliage) on 1 or sometimes 2 plants in treatments watered the day of
simulated shipping. However, in the earlier tests, damage was not wide-spread or severe enough
to significantly affect plant grades.








Dracaena 'Massangeana' root systems may be sensitive to low oxygen levels in growing
medium. Roots get oxygen from non-capillary pore space in potting soil. Growing medium in
pots of Dracaena 'Massangeana' tends to be compacted during potting so that cane will remain
upright. While this does not seem to affect plant quality under normal production conditions,
where evapotranspiration rates are high, some of the non-capillary pore space (air space) in
potting soil is destroyed by compaction. As the growing medium becomes saturated with water,
even less pore space is available for oxygen. When plants are in dark closed storage areas
(simulated shipping conditions), water loss from evapotranspiration is usually much lower
compared to water loss under normal production regimes; thus, insufficient root zone oxygen
levels during shipping may be responsible for the decline when this plant is shipped. Until
further research is done, we suggest that the growing medium of Dracaena 'Massangeana'
should not be saturated with water during shipping, and should be shipped with growing medium
somewhat dry.


References

Conover, C.A. and R.T. Poole. 1986. Factors influencing shipping of acclimatized foliage
plants. Univ. of Fla., Agri. Res. Cntr., CFREC-Apopka Res. Rpt. RH-86-11.

Peterson, J.C., J.N. Sacalis and Dominic J. Durkin. 1981. Ficus benjamin: Avoid water
stress to prevent leaf shedding. Florist's Rev. 167(4335):10-11, 37-38.

Poole, R.T. and C.A. Conover. 1983. Influence of simulated shipping environments on foliage
plant quality. HortScience 18(2):191-193.

Poole, R.T. and C.A. Conover. 1987. Effect of environmental factors on Dracaena
'Massangeana' during shipping. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 100:340-341.








Effects of medium moisture level during simulated shipping
Ficus benjamin. Exp. 1.


on plant grade of


Watering time, number of Plant gradey
days before simulated shipping A
Aug 2 Aug 13

0 4.9ax 4.9a
1 5.0a 4.3b
4 3.7b 3.5c
7 2.9c 2.9c
10 2.0d 2.0d

TPlants were last watered on the day simulated shipping was initiated, or 1, 4, 7 or 10 days
before simulated shipping began.
YPlants were graded based on a scale of 1 = dead, 2 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair quality,
salable, 4 = good quality and 5 = excellent quality.
"Significance determined using Duncan's Multiple Range Test, 5% level. Means in the same
column with the same letter are not significantly different.


Table 1.








Table 2


Weight loss from Ficus benjamin containers during storage affected by medium
moisture level before simulated shipping. Exp. 1.


Watering time, number of Pre-simulated Post-simulated Wt (g) lost during
days before simulated shipping wt (g)Y shipping wt (g) simulated shipping
shipping
0 6097ax 5648a 449a
1 5774b 5406a 367b
4 4796c 4524b 272c
7 4576cd 4357bc 241c
10 4424d 4183c 219c

zPlants were last watered on the day simulated shipping was initiated, or 1, 4, 7 or 10 days
before simulated shipping began.
YPlants, container and growing medium were weighed together as a unit immediately before
simulated shipping was initiated on July 19, and again immediately after plants were removed
from coolers on August 2, 1991. Weight change = weight before simulated shipping weight
after simulated shipping.
xSignificance determined using Duncan's Multiple Range Test, 5% level. Means in the same
column with the same letter are not significantly different.








Table 3.


Effects of medium moisture level during simulated shipping on plant grade of
Dracaenafragrans 'Massangeana' after 6 weeks indoorsz. Exp. 2.


Watering time, number of days before
simulated shippingY Plant gradex
0 2.8c"
1 3.6bc
4 4.4ab
7 4.9a
10 4.9a

zOn July 26, 1992 plants were stored for 2 weeks in dark coolers to simulated shipping
conditions. On August 10, 1992, plants were removed from coolers and placed indoors under
125 ft-c until September 18, 1992.
YPlants were last watered on the day simulated shipping was initiated, or 1, 4, 7 or 10 days
before simulated shipping began.
"Plants were graded based on a scale of 1 = dead, 2 = poor quality, unsalable, 3 = fair quality,
salable, 4 = good quality and 5 = excellent quality.
"Significance determined using Duncan's Multiple Range Test, 5% level. Means in the same
column with the same letter are not significantly different.









.




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