Location
Genetic and Environmental Interactions in Poinsettia Production and Shelf Life

Research

PO 021 - Genetic and Environmental Interactions in Poinsettia Production and Shelf Life

Start Date: 
01/06/2015
Completion Date: 
01/03/2016
Project Leader: 
Dr Simon Pearson, University of Lincoln
Code: 
PO 021

Industry representative: Mike Opperman, Opperman Plants Ltd

AHDB Horticulture Cost: £29,998

Aims and Objective:

Poinsettias are a major heated poinsettia crop grown to harvest from November through to the second week of December for the Christmas market. Pot size ranges from 6 cm to 17 cm with the majority produced in a 13 cm pot. 85 % plus are sold to multiples to highly defined specifications. The variety Infinity has been the market leader for a number of years, with others filling specialist gaps in the market. There is concern over the stability of the variety and a number of alternatives are now required. Given the critical importance of variety choice, robust selection procedures are required. The objective of this trial is to establish a more rigorous process to underpin the effective selection of Poinsettia varieties:

  • Rigorously test 10 varieties for use by UK growers.
  • Test the varieties on 3 growers holdings and establish whether there are any genetic x grower interactions in terms of plant responses. These holdings will be across the UK, using experienced growers.
  • Establish the impact of post harvest water management strategies (wicks, anti transpirants, water absorbent plugs) on product post harvest life.

Benefits to Industry:

Poinsettia are one of the most important pot plant crops between July and early December. Up to 8m Poinsettia are sold within the UK market, with c. 3.5 to 4m grown in the UK, and a market value of c. £10m to £12m p.a. at farm gate values (in pot sizes 10 to 17cm). Given that 50% of the UK crop is imported, typically from Holland, these figures suggest a significant potential for import substitution. Contrarily given the current euro exchange rate (c. 1.37euro per £), it is likely that competition from EU exports will intensify. Given the risks and opportunities for this sector, it is critically important that the industry have clear insight to develop compelling competitive advantages for UK produced crop.

The benefits of these experiments are multi-faceted. It will provide UK growers with effective insight into the commercial performance of a wide range of new Poinsettia varieties benchmarked against current commercial controls. Variety choice is one of the most important decisions made in Poinsettia production, it is a critical factor in determining the commercial success of the crop. The experiments will be robust and be conducted under real commercial conditions. The experiments will also demonstrate whether varieties are robust and stable under a range of different commercial conditions. If variety performance is stable between growing sites then this may simplify the variety selection process going forward as it will provide a higher level of confidence that the selection is robust. If varieties perform very differently between sites then large numbers of selections will need to be made each year to find the best variety for a particular site and circumstance.

The work on post harvest water management will also establish whether simple processes can be implemented to improve product postharvest life. Higher levels of postharvest life will help underpin a higher level of consumer confidence in the product and increased repeat sales.