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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #435237

Research Project: Resilient Plants: Production, Shipping and Postharvest Techniques to Maximize Sales and Sell-Through While Minimizing Inputs (including labor)

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21000-018-14-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2018
End Date: Aug 31, 2019

Objective:
The overarching research objective is to increase plant resilience in floriculture products to reduce crop losses at production, retail, and consumer phases through evaluation of production parameters.

Approach:
Our project will identify production techniques, pre-shipping treatments, and postharvest handling guidelines to maximize plant resilience to decrease losses and increase profitability. The specific approaches include: • Fertilizer, growing media including wood products, and irrigation practice impacts on post-production performance for the consumer, shrinkage, and profitability. • Quantify how light, temperature, and plant growth regulator applications during the production phase influence postharvest performance, and determine whether short-term (e.g., 1-2 week) treatments prior to shipping improves plant resilience during shipping and in retail. • Determine whether application of biological control agents and/or induction of plant defense responses increase plant stress tolerance during production and/or postharvest performance. • Determine whether biological control agents including parasitoids, predators, or entomopathogenic nematodes, bacteria and fungi applied to transplants will survive subsequent shipment and transplant, and provide carryover benefits (protection) to plants in finished containers against pests and diseases. • Identify whether differences in plant susceptibility to diseases and pests is due to differences in the ability of a plant to defend itself, and if so, to what degree those defense responses are inheritable. • Assess if some commonly-used pesticides and fungicides (including previously developed novel treatments, SC) that are applied to suppress populations of the pests and diseases impact the longevity of transplants during shipping and subsequent transplants into finished containers.