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Keep Flowers from Wilting

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Keep flowers from wilting
Cut flowers are prone to wilting in summer, especially when they're on display at a farmers market or farm stand on a Picking Flowershot day. And nobody wants to buy a bunch of wilted flowers. To prevent premature wilting, follow good harvest and post-harvest procedures. Here are the basics.

Above all, clean your buckets and clippers thoroughly. Bacteria that reside in dirty buckets proliferate quickly in summer heat and will clog up the stems and shorten the flowers' vase life.
Pick flowers early in the morning or late in the evening. Don't pick at mid-day when the sun is beating down on the flowers.
If it's really hot, fill buckets with cool water a little deeper than normal. The pressure of the deeper solution helps push water up the stem.

Work quickly, minimizing the time between cutting stems and placing them in water. Keep the buckets of harvested flowers in the shade until you can transport them to the packing shed. If you are having problems with certain varieties wilting, try using a hydration solution in your picking bucket. A hydration solution is a commercial product that helps the cut stems take up water after they are cut. Two floral preservative companies that sell hydrators are Floralife and Chrysal. Follow the label instructions carefully. NOTE: Certified-organic growers may not be able to use these and other floral preservative products, even though they are used post-harvest. Check with your certifier if in doubt.

flowers in a bucketCool the flowers as soon as possible, either in an air-conditioned room or a 50°F cooler. Don't mingle flowers with ethylene-producing fruits and vegetables. And be aware that some summer flowers will suffer chilling injury if placed in a cooler set below 40°F.

Before displaying flowers, be sure the water in the bucket is deep enough to keep the flowers hydrated all day.
Above all, keep the flowers out of direct sunlight at market. Keep in mind that sleeves act like little greenhouses in sunlight, making flowers uncomfortably hot, so you might want to put flowers into sleeves after your customers purchase them.

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Reprinted from JSS Advantage August 2010

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