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In 1843, Charles Dickens introduced the world to the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. The visits by these spirits transformed Scrooge from being a miser to someone who treated everyone with kindness, generosity, and compassion. This same type of generosity has allowed AFE to help the industry through the years. The support given to AFE goes directly towards helping our floral community overcome challenges and further grow.

As the Ghost of Christmas Past would note, the floral industry has been providing funds to the American Floral Endowment for nearly 60 years. AFE-funded research has led to successful advancements in flower production, care and handling, shipping, marketing, and pest/disease challenges.

Present AFE research focuses on eliminating thrips and botrytis, lighting advances, and other new technologies for breeding disease-resistant crops. The Spirit of the Future comes from YOU – floral industry members who share a vision to support further growth, solve new challenges, and be more efficient. Support for floral research and young professionals will drive the future success of the industry and allow each of us to see hope when we meet the Ghost of Christmas Future.

AFE-funded university researchers work with the industry to understand challenges and critical needs. These researchers, along with the help of highly talented graduate students, continue to identify solutions and to provide guidelines for all segments of the floral industry to prepare for our future in the present day. In many areas, AFE research has transformed industry practices resulting in costs and labor savings.

We recognize that the industry faces challenges daily and aim to continue to serve past, present, and future. We understand the need and importance of research that can enhance the quality and sales of flowers through the development of efficient practices for the entire industry. AFE is the ‘go-to’ source for addressing the most challenging issues facing the entire flower industry.

Past AFE-funded research has provided solutions to these and other important challenges:

  • DIF – Environmental Manipulation for Height Control. The use of differential day/night temperatures for height control of potted plants and bedding plants has revolutionized production practices and saved growers’ money by reducing plant growth regulator applications and energy use.
  • Poinsettia Bract Edge Burn – Browning of bracts at the end of the crop and during shipping reduces the marketability of poinsettias. AFE funded the research showing that calcium deficiency caused the initial injury and Botrytis infected the bracts rendering them unmarketable.  Calcium sprays were shown to prevent this problem.
  • Diseases and insects – When all available solutions seem to have been tried, AFE has stepped in with ‘How to” research. From Botrytis and thrips to Pythium and Phytophthora, AFE has sponsored research to control and manage many of pests’ problems on a wide selection of floral crops.
  • Postharvest of Potted Plants, Bedding Plants, and Cut Flowers – AFE launched potted and bedding plant care and handling research to fulfill the needs of the industry. Research has demonstrated the importance of integrated production, shipping, and handling systems for the optimization of plant performance, cut flower life, and consumer satisfaction.
  • Ethylene Control in Flower Crops Ethylene is a silent killer of plants and flowers. AFE’s research allowed growers to identify ethylene symptoms and control measures on a large selection of floral crops.
  • Shipping and Handling of Vegetative Cuttings Production of unrooted cuttings from off-shore has become the industry norm. Handling practices are now available for cuttings of many different plant species.
  • LED Lighting for Flower Crops – Use of LED lights in greenhouses and controlled environment facilities has increased crop quality, reduced production time while minimizing lighting costs. Many aspects of LED lighting have been investigated with AFE support.

Present Research Projects can be found at https://endowment.org/currently-funded-research/.

These and many other research projects focus industry practices on efficiency, labor-saving practices, and improved crop quality while increasing profitability. AFE appreciates the industry support and donations needed to make this happen. Previous generations have provided financial support and now we are calling for your support to help fund more research. Help us to continue to provide for the industry for another 60 years!

There are challenges to the industry that require research and innovation to help your business grow, including automation and technologies, storage and shipping solutions, sustainability, and new pest and disease control strategies.

Partner with us by making a tax-deductible contribution to AFE today so we can continue our important research and resources to help our industry thrive. Donate here.

We would love to hear from you on how we can help.  If you have questions or need assistance with any of these topics, please feel free to contact AFE Research Coordinator, Terril A. Nell, at tnell@afeendowment.org.

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