POST-HARVEST MANAGEMENT OF CUT FLOWERS
Orchid cut flowers, like any other flowers, require proper post harvest handling and care to reads the customers in best possible form. A quality cut flower stem produced under utmost care may lose allot as market value by the time it reaches the market due to faulty post harvest handling. Rampal and Dayamma (2001) discussed the major post harvest losses in orchids (Table-1).
Orchid cut flowers should be harvested at proper stage to get the rfICGI of its quality and vase life. Flowers harvested before or after the right stage will be poor in quality and have a reduced vase life. The right harvesting stage for majority of the commercially important orchids is fully opened and matured flowers. In Dendrobium, however, common practice is to harvest 01 75 per cent bloom stage. In Cettleyn, flowers should be harvested 3- 5 days after bud split (Rampal and Dayamma, 2001). Bhattacharjee (1976-77) rarommended harvesting at fully mature stage, as mature cut flowers require less support from moisture passing up the stern. Karsa at el. (1995) observed that water uptake was higher for the cut inflorescences bearing both opened and unopened buds. They also reported that in Dendrobiller removal of opened flowers or bagging of open flowers negatively affected the opening of the buds on the inflorescence. Morning is the best time for harvesting. Utmost care should be taken to ensure that pollinia on the flowers are not dislodged. Removal of pollinia will lead to withering of the flower, and subsequently will affect the longevity of other flowers on the stem. An obvious increase in flower sensitivity to ethylene following pollination was observed by Rural et al. (1995). More ethylene production by de capped or emasculated flowers was also reported by SIM et al. (1998). In norescew should be Put int0 a bucket containing plain water, immediately after cutting. Bactericides or prcrcrva lives in the water are also beneficial.
WASHING OR CLEANING
Washing of the flowers in clean water is practiced to remove dust and dirt from the flowers, before they are transferred to the grading table. Water on the flowers should be allowed to dry out before putting them in box.
Cut flowers that are not sorted according to the standard grades acceptable in markets erect little value in cut flower trade_ Before grading, flowers should be checked thoroughly. Flowers that arc disearcd, have insect injury, bruised, de capped and pollinated should be rejected out rightly. Only healthy flowers are graded. Grading standard varies for different orchids. Considerations are on length of in llorescenrc, number of flowers on the spike, number of oprced and unopened flowers, size of flowers and orientation of the flowers no inc spike.
The treatment includes holding the flower spikes in a solution containing sucrose along with a biocide, ant-ethylene aged, a weak acid and/or growth hormones before packaging. The duration of the treatment may vary from few hours to several hours. The treatment should be performed at 20-271C and about 20,000 lux tight intensity (Rampal and Dayamma, 2001).
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