The AHDB recently completed a varieties shelf life trial asses new varieties. Infinity, the current industry standard, was seen to compare favourably with a selection of 11 varieties. The selection were grown on 3 sites and were then assessed for quality and saleability; rounded shape, upright, showing cyathia and 4/5 heads. The plants were assessed weekly over a month in a simulated home with a range of light levels and humidity between 50% and 60%. On average the following scored highest; Ferara, Infinity Red, SK 148 and Lenora. The photos above illustrate the plants after 4 weeks in the assessment room. If you want to know what runners-up were, please drop me a line.

Water deficit production system
With a reduction in the number of PGRs available and expected to decrease further a trial was also carried out on growing plants using irrigation deficit methods – grown as dry as possible. Sensors and software were used to inform when to water. Not surprisingly the result was shorter plants but what was interesting was to see that the plants grown in the driest regime required no PGR and were of the highest quality at the time of dispatch. However growing plants this dry is very risky as any hot sunny day can quickly cause wilting if the shade is not provided promptly. This production system is of increase relevance now due to decreasing range of PGRs and associated challenges.
Further work carried out on growing media showed that the industry standard of peat and perlite marginally outperforms two alternatives; peat, 20% choir and 5% clay or peat + 10% bark chip + Nitrogen. The main advantage being that peat/perlite is less attractive to sciarid flies.

The North American Poinsettia Trials began in 1993. This year over 100 vars were assessed and results can be found on the Greenhouse Product News website a teaser of 5 top new vars are available to see now – Lyra, Prima Bella, Christmas magic, Christmas Cheer and Robyn.