Wednesday, April 02, 2008



Postharvest systems play a critical role in enhancing the competitiveness of cutflowers which by nature are highly perishable. Roses grown in open fields by small farmers and traded locally are of particular interest not only because it is one of the major cutflowers grown in the country but also because of its fair quality and short vaselife. This study aimed to determine the postharvest and marketing practices of rose farmers in major growing areas (Benguet, Cebu, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro), determine the extent and causes of losses, and develop appropriate technologies that would maintain quality, particularly in the areas of market preparation, storage, and packaging. The vase life of different cultivars was also evaluated. The rapid appraisals, market visits, and quality profiling showed technical and nontechnical problems that constrained the industry. Production-related problems include lack of planting materials for new varieties; pests and diseases; and lack of information on soil management, fertilizer, and pesticide use. Postharvest problems include overmaturity of flowers at harvest, mechanical damage, lack of packaging materials specifically designed for cutflowers, absence or non-implementation of national grade standard, short vase life and poor quality of unsold flowers or “left-overs,” and lack of awareness on proper handling. Other problems identified were lack of capital, high cost of packaging and transport, lack of postharvest facilities and high losses during the low demand period. The observed losses in roses ranged from three to 52% depending on the production area and season. Insect damage was the most common cause for rejection. Control of pests is specially important for single flower type such as roses since damage to the flower head renders it unmarketable. Improper postharvest handling practices such as overpacking, use of oversized containers, rough handling, and improper holding condition in the market resulted in poor quality and short vase life. Compression, broken stems, torn leaves, and bruising and shattering of petals were the handling-related type of damage observed. Furthermore, exposure to high temperature in the display area and failure to rehydrate or condition the flowers resulted in wilting and eventually bent-neck especially of the “left-overs”. Results of a handling trial showed that the temperature of precooled roses upon arrival in the Manila market was 14°C lower than the non-precooled. Precooling, which utilized a fabricated forced-air cooler and the cold storage facility in Bahong, La Trinidad, extended the vase life of 'Grand Gala' roses by two days. Packaging studies, on the other hand, showed that the incidence of compression during transport was reduced by 50 percent with the use of styrofoam box half the size (86 x 38 x 29 cm, 24 doz. capacity) of what is currently being used by the farmers-traders. Storage studies, meanwhile, showed that pulsing with 10-20 percent sucrose for six hours before dry pack storage promoted flower opening and extended vase life. 'White Teneke' and 'Red Success' roses can be stored dry (without water but sealed in polyethylene bag) for one week and wet (stems soaked in water, flowers sleeved with polypropylene plastic) for two weeks at 5°C. Roses sleeved with polypropylene or packed in polyethylene bag had higher visual quality rating and longer vaselife than those sleeved with newspaper (traditional). Conditioning in warm water (43°C, 4 hr), whether done at ambient, airconditioned room, or at 10°C, reduced the incidence of bent-neck in cold-stored 'White Teneke' roses by as much as 50 percent. The findings in these studies can be utilized by farmers, traders, and florists to improve the quality and enhance the competitiveness of their product. They can also be used by farmers and traders who intend to store their flowers to take advantage of the high price during Valentine's Day, All Saints' Day and other occasions. by Josephine U. Agravante, PhD and Tito J. Rimando, PhD.

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