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Hot Prices For Cool Flowers

From the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology

For immediate release

Caption: Tatyana Pinkney of Crop & Food Research checks the vase-life of peonies.


Growers of the popular peony flowers are benefiting from research designed to keep their blooms looking their best when they arrive in lucrative overseas markets.

Once picked at optimum maturity, the peonies have to be chilled rapidly and kept cool to prevent buds opening in transit, says Kathryn Hill, president of the New Zealand Peony Society.

A research project carried out by Crop & Food Research scientists and funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, showed that although growers did a good job in cooling blooms after harvest, the flowers were often not cooled to the correct temperature on their journey to markets.

Mrs Hill says the Peony Society negotiated with carriers and used data loggers to record temperatures and come up with a transportation regime that ensured the flowers were at their best when they arrived at their destination. She says the operators of the refrigerated trucks and the airline, Origin Pacific, worked with growers to resolve the issues to everyone’s satisfaction.

Growers were receiving up to NZ$5.80 a bloom from the United States market this past season.

Meanwhile, Crop & Food Research scientists are showing growers how to improve bloom quality and running seminars on post-harvest practices to maintain cut-flower quality. These seminars have been made possible with assistance from FloraFed and funding from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

“We recognise there are many new entrants to New Zealand’s $100-million cut-flower industry and that they often set up growing operations in isolation from other growers,” Crop & Food Research spokesman Julian Heyes says. “We encourage ‘best practice’ from the moment of harvest, through cooling, grading, application of post-harvest treatments, packaging, transport, and marketing. The importance of hygiene and good cool-chain management were stressed.”


- Dr Julian Heyes, Crop & Food Research, Palmerston North. Ph: (06) 356-8300; email:

- Peter Burke, Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. Ph: (04) 917-7809; email:; web:

- Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Media Ltd.

Contact: Ian Carson (04) 569-1742;,

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