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Home HortTechnology Biocontainers on the Horizon for Holiday Floral Favorite
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WEST LAFAYETTE, IN—Poinsettias, the traditional holiday floral favorite, mean big business for commercial growers in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2009, poinsettias are the most-valuable potted flowering crop in the United States, with a wholesale value more than $145 million in the 15 largest poinsettia-producing states. Researchers at Purdue University published a study that may help commercial poinsettia growers boost sales.

"In today's market, growers must find ways to add value to their poinsettia crops to sustain sales," said author Roberto Lopez. "An opportunity to do so exists by emphasizing the sustainable nature of green industry products given consumers' increased environmental consciousness." Lopez and colleague Diane Camberato noted that public perception of environmentally friendly packaging can translate to increased sales and better prices for growers. The team evaluated a variety of biodegrable, compostable, and traditional plastic containers for use in poinsettia production. Lopez and Camberato's results, published in HortTechnology, offered promising practices for poinsettia producers.

The pair evaluated a variety of biodegradable, compostable, and traditional plastic containers to grow 'Eckespoint Classic Red' poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) to determine both the feasibility and quality implications of growing a long-term crop in biocontainers.

According to the results, plastic, rice hull, wheat starch-derived bioresin, and molded fiber containers remained unchanged in appearance and integrity and received a rating of 5 (using a 1–5 rating scale, where 1 = container integrity compromised substantially and 5 = container was intact, no visible changes in terms of color or construction). Straw, coconut coir, composted cow manure, and Canadian sphagnum moss and wood pulp containers had an average rating of 2.9, 2.7, 1.4, and 1.6, respectively. Plant quality was not negatively impacted by any of the seven containers, though the study noted that the marketability of finished plants can be affected by container integrity.

"Our results showed that it is possible to produce a long-term poinsettia crop of acceptable plant quality in the eight container types used in the study," Lopez said. He noted that the most promising containers for commercial poinsettia production are molded fiber, rice hull, and wheat starch-derived bioresin.

"The marketing advantages and perceived value added of a poinsettia produced in a biodegradable or compostable container is encouraging," Lopez said. "However, modifications to current practices, especially in regard to irrigation, will need to be explored before some biocontainers can be considered suitable for poinsettia or other long-term crops."

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The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/21/4/419.abstract

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org


 

Original Article:

Growth and Development of 'Eckespoint Classic Red' Poinsettia in Biodegradable and Compostable Containers
Roberto G. Lopez and Diane M. Camberato
HortTechnology 21:419–423. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

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