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Post Harvest Prep for Shipping

It’s amazing how one or two bad practices can lower the value of your crops. As growers, we strive to create the perfect bedding plant, container and hanging basket. We have labored and worried about delivering the best-quality product to the stores and our customers as possible.

Photo shows a large semi-truck driving away in front of several greenhouse structures.

Here are a few tips growers can consider for preparing their crops for shipping and get closer to achieving that top quality.

• Prior to shipping in the last couple weeks of the crop, toning the plants can make a big difference. This can be done with cooler temperatures, using a calcium-based feed, letting the crop get drier between irrigations, and using high light. The calcium will thicken the cell walls creating a more durable plant.

• As the canopy closes in, both on the ground and up above, humidity can build to create an atmosphere that supports the growth of fungal disease like Botrytis, Phytopthora and Rhizoctonia. Several things can be done to help prevent this. The easiest practice is to make sure the foliage is dry going into the night. Diseases have a harder chance getting established without open water. Approximately two weeks before shipping, an application of a preventative fungicidal spray might be needed to ensure disease control.

• There are so many different petunias being offered now. We also know that petunias can easily deteriorate in shipping due to flower melt down. Treatments of calcium chloride at 800-1000ppm sprayed on the petunias, starting about 10 days before finish, will help stop the flower melt down.

• We all know the frustrations of pinning down an actual ship date. There are so many determining facts that control shipping! We usually do have an estimated target date in mind when we scheduled our crops. We also know that open water on the plants adds to the toxic disease pressure. Have a plan with your team to communicate possible ship dates. By making sure the plants are well watered and hydrated the day before ship, you will greatly decrease the disease issues that can come from shipping. The whole idea is the plants go into the truck with dry foliage, decreasing the breeding ground for disease.

I’m sure you all have ideas of your own as well. You just spent months creating a masterpiece. Don’t letting shipping damage your work. Happy Spring!

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