Flower harvest and post-harvest handling of Gypsophila

Material Information

Flower harvest and post-harvest handling of Gypsophila
Series Title:
Bradenton AREC mimeo report
Marousky, F. J ( Francis John ), 1935-
Harbaugh, B. K ( Brent Kalen )
Agricultural Research & Education Center (Bradenton, Fla.)
Place of Publication:
Bradenton Fla
Agricultural Research & Education Center, IFAS, University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
2 leaves : ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Gypsophila -- Harvesting -- Florida ( lcsh )
Flowers -- Collection and preservation -- Florida ( lcsh )
Flowers ( jstor )
Water flow ( jstor )
Shipping ( jstor )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (leaf 2).
General Note:
Caption title.
General Note:
"August 1977."
Florida Historical Agriculture and Rural Life
Statement of Responsibility:
F.J. Marousky and B.K. Harbaugh.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location:
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Engineering and Industrial Experiment Station; Institute for Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS), University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier:
72457062 ( OCLC )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

Agricultural Research & Education Center
IFAS, University of Florida
Bradenton, Florida


F. J. Marousky and B. K. Harbaugh

Bradenton AREC Research Report GC1977-7 August 1977

Gypsophila is the third most important cut flower crop grown in Florida and
in 1974 was estimated at 330 acres worth $4.5 million. Possibly 500 acres worth
an estimated $6.8 million will be grown in 1985 (2).

Harvest and post-harvest handling of flowers are two of the most critical and
difficult aspects of successful gypsophila culture. Gypsophila plants produce
flowers in a large, panicle-like compound diachasium in which individual flowers
do not open simultaneously. The inflorescence is characterized by development of
a single branch at each node giving an appearance of alternate branching. The tip
or apex of the panicle opens first and must be harvested separately before the entire
panicle is open. The flowers are sensitive to water deficiency and intense sunlight.
They brown and shrivel if subjected to stress. Overmature flowers are not saleable;
therefore, harvesting requires a well-trained employee with an experienced eye to
cut stems with flowers open but not overmature. Plantings should be harvested
frequently to obtain the highest quality flowers. Hot, dry winds can quickly
desiccate flowers and can destroy whole fields. Flowering stems are usually cut
10-14" long, graded into 6-10 oz. bunches; the stem ends are wrapped with a rubber
band. A bunch may vary from 5-25 stems depending on quality and stage of the harvest
at any given time. Flowers are very susceptible to drying after harvesting and must
be kept in water and refrigerated to maintain quality. It is also advantageous to
hold flowers in water during the shipping period, but shipping containers holding
water must be sent by surface transportation rather than air. Airlines do not
accept flower packages that contain water. In water, gypsophila stems quickly
decompose and develop a very putrid odopr. elo s' ghe'Id in water sustain shipping
quality better at 40F than at 330F. Boxes lined with polyethylene film reduce
moisture loss, but botrytis may be a problenlif flowers are not cooled before
packing and moisture condenses on the f~i~rf 1iNh Florida Ornamental Crop Market
Report Summary (3) gives the following information: "An 13" x 20" x 24" wire bound
crate is used for truck shipment. Some 20-30 bunches with stem ends immersed in a
bucket of water are packed in a create.;, When,;ent by, air, 60 bunches are packed in
a 1" x 18" x 48" carton without water. Flowers are graded according to stem length
and marketed as small, medium and large. It is estimated that 60% is consigned to
city markets while about 40% is sold on an FOB shipping point basis."

The FOB price (Florida) to wholesalers during the 1975-76 season ranged from
$1.00 to $1.25 with an occasional crop at $0.75. Host of these bunches sold for
$1.00-$2.50 on the Boston wholesale market and $2.75-$3.00 on the Chicago market
(4). Price may vary from grower to grower due to quality, handling, grading and
shipping techniques.

Cooperative research by USDA and AREC-Bradenton showed that gypsophila responds
well to flower preservative solutions. Flowers had better quality and continued to
grow and develop in a solution of 200 ppm 8-hydroxyquinoline citrate (8-HQC) and 2%
sucrose (Su). Those findings, however, were based on the premise that stems be
relatively free of bacteria and solutions be changed frequently. In water alone,
flower development is arrested and flowers and stems quickly deteriorate. Usually,
bacteria rapidly "build-up" in water. Recent work showed that in 3 days at 50F
bacteria reached about 1 million cells per ml of water. At 75F the count was
100 million bacterial cells per ml of water.

Suitable temperatures nust be maintained during the shipping phase. Recent
tests indicated that bacteria can be controlled in water holding gypsophila. The
chemical, sodium dichloroisocyanurate (DICA) at 400 mg/liter (about 5 1/2 oz/100
gal water) controlled bacteria during simulated shipping at 500F. A solution of
400 mg DICA + 20 g sucrose per liter water (about 5 1/2 oz DICA and 17 lbs sucrose/
100 gallons water) controlled bacteria and maintained flower quality at 750F. The
rapid decomposition and putrid odor of cut stems in water were eliminated by DICA.
DICA is a slow-release chlorine compound. At 400 mg DICA/liter, residual chlorine
is sufficient to control bacteria for 3-4 days and does not injure flowers. This
research will be described in a publication to be released in the near future.

Dried Flowers. There is a good market for dried gypsophila flowers for use in
both fresh and dried flower arrangements by florists. In northern wholesale flower
markets dried gypsophila often brings twice the price of fresh material. Dried
gypsophila is produced in areas other than Florida, but enterprising Florida growers
could exploit that market. Although usually dried in bunches, individual panicles
can also be pressed and dried (5) for use in floral plaques, for sealing in trans-
parent or translucent plastic, for screens, and for Victorian bouquets. Bunches
can be dried by hanging them upside down in a relatively dry dark room. Rapid
drying with a hot air blast causes excessive shriveling and brittleness. Packaging
and shipping are the major difficulties in merchandising this dried product, which
breaks easily during handling.


1. Marousky, F. J. and J. Nanney. 1972. Influence of storage temperatures,
handling and floral preservatives on post harvest quality of gypsophila.
Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 85:419-422.

2. Pierce, J. B. 1975. Agriculture growth in an urban age. IFAS, University
of Florida. pp 81-102.

3. Scarborough, E. F., K. G. Gholston and R. P. Callaway. 1972. Marketing
Florida ornamental crops. Part 1. Summary 1972 season. Federal-State
Market News Service. Orlando, Fla. 41 pp.

4. Scarborough, E. F. and P. Hill. 1976. Marketing Florida ornamental crops.
Fresh flowers and ferns summary 1975-76. Federal-State Market News Service,
Orlando, Fla. 31 pp.

5. Squires, H. 1958. The art of drying plants and flowers. Gramercy Publishing
Company, 258 pp.