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The National Cut-Flower Trials Centre Programme for 2013-2017

Research

PO/BOF 002a - The National Cut-Flower Trials Centre Programme for 2013-2017

Start Date: 
01/01/2013
Completion Date: 
31/12/2017
Project Leader: 
Lyndon Mason
Code: 
PO/BOF 002a

Industry representative: Mark Eves

AHDB Horticulture project cost: £263,324

 

Project summary:

The efforts of plant breeders and introducers ensure a vibrant cut-flower sector, with many improved cultivars and novel species becoming available. Multiple-retailers and consumers seek novelty, demanding consistent quality, and favour UK-grown produce where it is available at the right price and quality. The Cut-flower Trials Centre was established in 2007 to take advantage of these trends, and has continued to deliver an industry-led programme of variety demonstrations and agronomic trials of cut-flower species with market potential as new opportunities for UK growers.
The Centre has developed a strong relationship with retailers, several of whom sit on the Management Group. This close working relationship offers UK flower growers a valuable and unparalleled opportunity to work collaboratively with major retailers, gaining rapid consumer response to new products. Such a strong collaborative approach is thought to be unique amongst our industry.
Examples of the Centre’s work include large-headed China asters, annual dianthus, new ‘trumpet’ antirrhinum, new double-flowering perennial asters, hardy foliage and perennial ‘fillers’ such as eryngium and sedum.
In seeking funding to develop its programme, the Centre’s approach will continue to be based on having an agile response to growers’ needs, providing objective trialling and practical experimentation. It will carry out a programme of demonstrating potential new cut-flower crops, assessing the basic cultural requirements of promising lines, providing cultivar and agronomic trials, and evaluating test crops on commercial nurseries. In addition, the Centre sees as crucial its intentions (a) to develop its web-site as a source of information through developing contacts with plant breeders, introducers and producers, researchers and technologists, and (b) to increase its technology transfer role and stimulate further research projects for the sector. Both of these activities will aim to position the Centre as the main information hub for the UK cut-flower industry, with a view to developing further into a ‘Crop Association’ role.

 

Aims and objectives:

Project aim(s):
To identify novel cut-flower crops providing new opportunities for UK growers, and improving existing crops through new genetics and improved agronomy etc.

Project objective(s):
(A) Information gathering
1. To review ‘new’ cut-flower crops and cultivars available from breeders, seed houses, plant producers and other trials programmes to inform the experimental programme.
2. To review (and disseminate where appropriate) international literature (printed and web-based) on cut-flower crops, especially in respect of novel crops and improving cut-flower quality.
3. To review and disseminate trends in cut-flower production in the UK and internationally.

(B) Experimental programme
4. To demonstrate novel ornamentals and assess their potential as cut-flower crops for growing in the UK either outside or under Spanish.

5. To evaluate the basic agronomic requirements, yield and quality of cultivars of cut-flower crops (including bulbous plants) previously identified as having potential for exploitation by UK growers and retailers.
6. To investigate crop requirements needed to enhance cut-flower quality and supply, such as height control, pinching, control of nutritional disorders, pests or diseases, extensive cultivar testing and seasonal extension. This work will be predominantly undertaken on cut flower species that show promise from the ongoing (and earlier) CFC, NPD trials but the CFC would also hope to take on work to look at problems with “main stream” cut flower crops if appropriate.
7. To validate the use of ‘new’ cut-flower crops through grower assessments carried out on commercial sites. These “new” crops will have been identified from the literature reviews, breeder liaison and input from other established trials programmes such as those undertaken by John Dole in the USA.
8. To investigate the best way to handle new products.

(C) Technology transfer
9. To disseminate information from (A) and (B) regularly via the Centre’s web-site, HDC News (or other periodicals as required), an annual Open Day and annual project reports.
10. To review trials results and other information (availability, production, costings) on two cut-flower crops each year, publishing these as fact-sheets.
11. To disseminate basic costings on all subjects that show market potential to levy payers at the earliest stage that this is practically possible.
12. To encourage the submission of concept notes for new R&D projects on cut-flower crops, initially for review by the Centre’s Management Group and thence by the HDC BOF and PC Panels.
13. To be an information hub for the UK cut-flower industry with a view to fulfilling a ‘Crop Association’ role.