Production and post-harvest scientific research projects funded by the Endowment provide essential knowledge for a growing and dynamic floricultural industry. The complex and diverse structure of the industry makes it difficult for single entities or individuals to support highly comprehensive research programs.
The Endowment, however, allows all industry representatives, regardless of size, to contribute and assures continuous floriculture and horticulture research. Thus, AFE maintains strong, vibrant floriculture and environmental horticulture industries.
Floriculture is the production of flowering and foliage plants for commercial use, including fresh cut flowers, flowering potted plants, potted foliage plants, bedding plants (including perennials) and cut foliage. Research on these plants and flowers may encompass production, shipping, handling and postharvest practices.
We help floral and nursery growers tackle tough industry challenges from pest and diseases, technologies, care and handling and more, through funding research and other programs. A Nutritional Monitoring of Floriculture Crops website, fertdirtandsquirt.com, is also available to assist growers of greenhouse, floriculture and vegetable crops with nutritional monitoring. The AFE-sponsored website was designed to help growers establish an in-house monitoring program and serves as an information and education center.
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The answer is simple – everyone!
Currently, the size of the industry is estimated at $19 billion annually and growing. It is third in wholesale agricultural value, second only to corn and soybeans. It provides jobs throughout the economy. In addition, floriculture offers aesthetic products that meet consumer demands and needs. It has been proven that the diversity of floral products provides added value and a better quality of life to consumers.
What research is required to ensure that the floral industry thrives and meets the expectations of all its segments and the consumers?
This answer is not simple, and needs change over time. The AFE Board of Trustees fully understands this challenge. Prior to making yearly funding decisions, they receive input from many industry and scientific sources. Thus, industry needs and creative research projects drive the funding process.
The primary research priorities are listed below. They are focused on all floricultural crops – fresh cut flowers, fresh cut greens, flowering potted plants, foliage plants and bedding plants.
- Sustainable Production and Handling Practices Including Water Use Efficiency and Growing Media
- Reduction of the Impact of Climate Change on Production, Handling, and Product Quality
- Biocontrol of Pests
- Advanced Breeding Technology, including CRISPR
- Long-Term Storage and Shipping Conditions for Cut Flowers, Bedding, and Potted Plants
- Production Technology
- Postharvest Technology
- Botrytis Control and Management
- Thrips Control and Management
- Automation, Technology, and AI Leading to Labor Savings
Some of the many AFE research projects that have directly benefited you and your business:
- Improving Cut Flower Longevity
- Breeding – Includes breeding to enhance post harvest quality, plant and flower quality or to reduce insect and diseases
- New Technology – To increase floriculture quality
- Pest and Disease Management – Focus areas: Aphids, Botrytis, Downy/Powdery Mildews, Leaf Miners, Thrips, Whiteflies and others
- Postharvest – Includes shelf life, transportation, home or garden performance