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Science and technology keep moving forward. Sometimes, we may not realize how scientific and technological advancements guide our daily lives and benefit floriculture businesses. The amazingly rapid response of medical researchers to develop COVID-19 vaccines shows the impact on our lives as a whole. At the same time, floriculture research has developed techniques leading to better quality and longer-lasting flowers.

As the industry celebrates 60 years of AFE support for research benefiting all segments of the floral industry, we can be thankful for the investment individuals and companies have made in AFE. The AFE research committee and board focus industry dollars on projects that will have value to the industry.

We recognize that every segment of the industry faces challenges daily that involve providing the best quality plants and flowers to consumers. For 60 years, AFE has been the ‘go-to’ source for funding research and communicating the results, along with the researchers, to the floral industry.

Let us look at a few of the accomplishments that have transformed the industry:

  • 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.
  • Postharvest of Potted Plants, Bedding Plants and Cut Flowers – AFE launched cut flower, 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 optimization of plant performance, cut flower life and consumer satisfaction.
  • Ethylene Control in Flower Crops Ethylene is the silent killer of plants and flowers that causes leaf, bud and flower drop and reduced longevity Results allow growers to identify ethylene symptoms and control measures on a large selection of floral crops so they can provide plants and flowers that are not damaged by ethylene.
  • 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 caused the initial injury and Botrytis infected the bracts rendering them unmarketable.  Calcium sprays were shown to prevent this problem.
  • Diseases and insects can be a nightmare and a costly requirement for growers.  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 pest’s problems on a wide 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 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.

These and many other research projects focused on industry practices leading to increased efficiency, reduced labor, improved crop quality, and increased profits. AFE appreciates the industry floral donations over the years to make this happen.  We invite you to join us for a better industry now and in the future.

If you have questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact our Research Coordinator, Terril A. Nell, at

Currently Funded Research | Final Research Reports | Research Applications & Information