New Strategies in Transportation for Floricultural Crops

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In the past century, the centers of production and consumption of ornamentals increasingly have become widely separated. A cut flower bouquet purchased today in a Verona florist could easily combine Italian foliage with flowers grown in Kenya, Colombia, Holland and Thailand. The extended transportation infrastructure and delays between harvest and consumption implicit in this separation can easily result in significant reduction in quality and vase life. Geography plays an important role in selection of transportation mode, and most “long distance” flowers still are transported by air. Air transport typically results in quality loss due to poor temperature control, accelerated water loss, and airport delays and interventions. The high Q10 for respiration in cut flowers (as much as 7!) implies a substantial premium for careful temperature control during transportation. Innovative systems for temperature control could be important tools for maintaining freshness during air transport. The primacy of postharvest temperature control has driven the continued search for ways to use surface transportation - sea containers and trucks are an important tool in this effort. The lack of response of cut flowers to controlled atmospheres (apart from ethylenesensitive flowers) has frustrated this effort, but careful temperature control and monitoring of container temperatures and the use of faster ships has resulted in successful out-turn of flowers transported from Central America to North America. Temperature control also frustrates efforts to direct-market flowers using the Internet. Innovative packaging concepts will be essential to success in this field. 

M.S. Reid
C.Z. Jiang
University of California