Cut Flowers: Care and Marketing by UH0EH9R

VIEWS: 31 PAGES: 11

									                              Cut Flowers: Care and Marketing
                                      Booklet No. 568
                                Flower Gardening: FGS - 37
Contents
Preface
I.     Introduction
II.    Cut Flower Care,
       A. Harvesting Care
       B. Stage of growth
       C. Pre conditioning
       D. Temperature
       E. Water
       F. Biocides
       G. Sugar
       H. Restriction of ethylene damage
       I. Devitalizing materials
       J. Bud opening solutions
       K. Pulsing,
III.   Marketing of Flowers
       A. Increasing consumption
       B. Grower's action
       C. Export aspects
       D. Local outlets
       E. Alternative outlets
           F. Packaging

Preface

       In earlier days the cultivation of flowering plants was limited to land scape gardening and
these were not harvested as cash crop. But now, due to high margin of profit, floriculture
business is flourishing, still flower cultivation is done in areas near to the metropolitan or district
headquarters. A common farmer is not able to access the technique of flower care and
marketing which has become a handicap in popularizing flower cultivation among small and
marginal farmers. This booklet contains some important and useful tips about flower care and
marketing.

Dr. K. T. Chandy, Agricultural & Environmental Education

I. Introduction

        Cut flowers are valued for their outlook and freshness, which has to be preserved till the
flower reaches its ultimate consumer. Flowers passes through a short marketing chain and, their
care and handling in auctions and markets is important. Additional care and alteration is
essential while exporting because spoiled flowers not only cause loss of money but also the
customers confidence in the grower and the product.

         Flowers are of no value to the producer until they are sold. The ultimate purchaser
expects to receive them in the best of the conditions at home. Although, the grower is but one
link in the chain much can be done by him to maintain the freshness and the longevity of the
flowers. An understanding of the flower plants requirements after harvest assists the grower in
taking the appropriate actions to ensure that the product is satisfactory. The detailed aspects
are recommended with each crop.

        In general, marketing involves the presentation, promotion and packaging of the articles.
Currently growers individually do not do this, partly because there is inadequate liaison between
the three sections producers, distributors and retailers.

II. Cut Flower Care

       The care of cut flowers can be considered under different heads such as harvesting,
care, stage of growth, pre conditioning, temperature, water, biocides, sugars, revitalizing
materials, bud opening solutions and pulsing.

A. Harvesting care
        Care of the flower begins even before flowering by nourishing and nurturing the plants
and adequately irrigating to ensure the tissues are well supplied with nutrients water. Special
care is given early flowering stage. The best time to harvest flowers in summer is in the morning
when the plants are cool and the cells are turgid. If harvested late during the day, the flowers
are respiring and transpiring rapidly and is under stress and tends to warm up if kept in large
bundles. When there is mist or heavy dew it is better to allow the leaves and flowers of out door
crops to dry off excessive moisture before harvesting. Pick and pack the flowers well in advance
and place the material in cool store so that fresh material can be supplied to the market

B. Stage of growth
         To prolong the life the flowers are cut at the early blooming stage. For the grower the
earlier the crop is harvested the easier it is to handle. At the same time success ional crops can
be grown. The stage of harvest will depend on the time of year; glass house roses are cut at a
bud stage in summer but in winter it can be later because in winter time their growth is slower.
Similarly gladioli can be harvested in mid-February when the first floret is seen. Harvesting in
mid April is done when this floret is well expanded and the second and third florets appears.
Cultivars also vary in their suitable harvesting stage. For instance, Iris must be harvested at
advance bud stage compared to Wedgwood. Some flowers, such as carnations and
chrysanthemums, can be harvested at the bud stage.

C. Pre conditioning
       Hot water treatment is given to the bases of the stems before any other treatment. Plant
material which responds to this treatment comprises are the following types.

1. Woody plants, e.g. proteaceae, foliage such as Lephomyutus and other leafy shrubs. It is
essential with glasshouse roses to prevent the condition of bent neck.
2. Chrysanthemums, dahlias and hollow stemmed flowers.
3. Plants which produce latex, such as iceland poppies and euphorbias.

        The treatment involves in placing the base of the stems in water near boiling point for
half a minute, or in water at around 45°C (equal parts boiling and cold water) for a quarter of an
hour. This treatment drives air out of the stems and also has biochemical effects within the
tissues. It certainly improves subsequent water uptake. After heat treatment, the stems are
placed in nutritive solutions rather than just in water.

        Warm water reconditioning is also applied to flowers which have been dry stored such
as tulips or to fresh unstored flowers which may have wilted in transit It is done by placing the
stem in water at 45°C temperature. The lowest 10-15 mm of stem is initially cut off to ensure
rapid active uptake of water.
D. Temperature
        Since temperature is the major factor affecting flower life, maximum importance is given
to cooling. respiration is one of the main activities of living plant tissue; between 0 and 20°C the
rate of respiration of roses and carnations increases twenty five times. Cooling is also essential
in order to reduce other metabolic changes such as enzyme activity and to slow the maturation
of flowers. Transporting them at night will also improve their longevity. Cold water treatment is
given to all flowers other than mentioned under the hot water treatment. One has to know what
treatment is better for which type of flowers.

E. Water
        Cut flowers require clean, pure water. Fortunately in most parts of India, the quality of
water is good. There are limited amounts of dissolved salts in water though temporary alkalinity
may occur due to soluble bicarbonates. Where quality is poor, collected rain water can be used.
Most holding houses have sufficient roof area and enough rain to maintain an adequate supply
fresh and clean water.

       The stems of some plants exude sap or chemicals like phenols, e.g.. proteus. These
leachates are harmful to other plants or to their own species. Hence, water once used should
not be used for dipping other flowers.

F. Biocides
       Water once used becomes contaminated with bacteria or fungi which breed on plant
tissue or debris. These organisms produce or induce, the production of substances such as
tannins which can block the conducting vessels of the stems. To inhibit their development,
biocides or disinfectants are added to the water these must not be phytotoxic.

        The materials most freely available and safe for use with plants are calcium or sodium
hypochlorite -domestic bleach- used at rates of 500-1000 ppm (2.5-5.0 m1 per 5 litres). Chlorine
based swimming pool disinfectants can also be used. Chlorine compounds are better
considered due to their effect on maintaining cleanliness as well as continued use of the same
water. Even where these compounds are used, the containers must be cleaned regularly. A
wide range of other biocides have been recommended; those available currently are given in
table 1 given as follows.
                      Table 1: Readily available and recommended biocides

   Sl.No    Chemical                               Trade name             Rate of use
   1        Dichlorphen                            Panacide               40-60 ppm
   2        Quaternavy ammonium                    Physan 20 (plot for    200 ppm
                                                   roses)
   3        8 Hydroxy quinoline Citrate            8 HQC                  200 ppm
   4        8 Hydroxy quinoline Sulphate           8 HQS                  200 ppm
   5        Citric acid                            Citric acid            350 ppm
   6        Hypochlorite                           Household bleach       1000 ppm

       Silver nitrate and other silver salts were previously used, but now silver thiosulphate is
more common. There may be other chemicals too being developed and sold in the market. One
has to be on the look out for these and study them before use.
G. Sugar
         In order to carry on its vital functions, especially respiration plant tissue requires sugar.
The process of photosynthesis supplies sugars to the plant tissue both for growth and its
activities. Cut flowers with considerable foliage such as alstromeria. chrysanthemums,
marguerite daisies flax and conifers do not require sugar in the vase water. Most other flowers
benefit from sugar especially those which continue their growth and development in the vase.
Only sucrose, cane beet or household sugar is used for this purpose.

         When stems are held in a sugar solution continuously a rate of 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent
of sugar is adequate. This sugar solution is an ideal substrate for the growth of micro-
organisms, so a biocides must be used in combination with sugar. Various formulations of
chrysal, Eloricard etc. contain sugars and biocides with other chemicals. Soft drinks such as
lemonade satisfy the requirements of sugar, preservatives and acidity. In this text, the term
nutritive solution is applied to those mixtures in which flowers stand continuously.

H. Restriction of ethylene damage
        Ethylene (C2H4) is a naturally occurring plant compound and is particularly associated
with fertilized maturing ovaries and ripe fruit, also with damaged or disease infected tissues.
Many plants are very sensitive to traces of this chemical. Carnations become sleepy florets,
sweet peas drop and pot plants may loose flowers or leaves.

        It is important to ensure the absence of ethylene by adequate ventilation, and by keeping
fruit separate from floral products. As it is a naturally produced compound, it is also necessary
to inhibit its production by the plant.

         Silver is a potent inhibiter of ethylene. The effectiveness of silver nitrate and acetate is
partially due to their toxic effect on micro organisms but also due to their action as ethylene
inhibitors. However, silver in this form moves only slowly in plant tissue and tends to be
photodegradable. The compound silver thiosulphate provides silver in a form which is readily
translocated in the plant. Ammonium, or sodium salts of silver thiosulphate, are present in fixing
solutions after photographic processing. These solutions can be used at concentrations of 1:10
to 1:20 with water the exact concentration need to be confirmed by testing. It is necessary to
ensure that the used solution actually contains silver. Proprietary carnation pretreatment
solutions are based silver thiosulphate.

        It is possible to make up a stock solution from sodium thiosulphate. Using distilled water,
two concentrated solutions are prepared by dissolving 45 grams of silver nitrate and 160 gms
Anhydrous sodium thiosulphate or 250 gms Prismatic sodium thiosulphate respectively. Each of
the chemicals is dissolved in one litre of water, the silver nitrate is then added slowly to the
thiosulphate, stirring thoroughly. The stock solution is stored in a labeled dark bottle or a plastic
container.

        This solution is diluted at different rates, depending on the temperature and the length of
time the stems are treated. Two typical occasions are;
1. At 20°C for 10-20 minutes, 40 ml STS stock solution is added to one litre of water.
2. Overnight at a temperature at 2oC 10 ml of STS stock solution is added to one litre of water.

       Both techniques have a place is a grower's routine the former when flowers are to be
dispatched immediately, and the latter when they are to be packed the next day. Neither the
concentrates nor the dilutions, last indefinitely. They must be regularly renewed.
        The use of the STS doubles the longevity of carnations; in fact, a subsequent nutritive
solution is less necessary but still beneficial. It is also excellent for gypsophila and other
herbaceous plants which produces flowers in a spike, such as Antirrhinum or Phalaenopsis
orchids. It should not be used with cymbidiums or roses.

I. Devitalizing materials
        Some countries, such as Australia require that any imported plant material must be non
propagatable. This implies that the buds of most cut flowers must be devitalised in some way.
The Ministry of Agriculture has devised solutions in which disbudded stems of carnations,
chrysanthemums or roses are stood, both to devitalize them and to act as a pulsing agency. It is
known that glyphosate will also devitalise buds by immersing the stems in 30 ppm for 15
minutes, however, subsequent longivity is often reduced

J. Bud opening solutions
        Bud opening solutions are of value where a complete crop is being removed, such as
carnations or chrysanthemums. The partially developed buds too immature for marketing are
placed in these solutions. These solutions have also been used to allow the harvesting of
immature flowers from the growing crop, provided the buds are sufficiently developed they can
be brought to a marketable stage, and attain their maturity in the solution. This is applicable,
either when a large quantity of one flower is wanted at a specific times. For example a florist
requires a carnation of one colour for a wedding or in winter when development on the plant is
slow. They can also be used by florists purchasing flowers in bud. Bud opening solutions
contain a low level of sugar (2-5 per cent) and the flowers are held at high temperatures (20-
22°c) in a well-lit place for several days. To limit desiccation, the container and flowers can be
placed in a large plastic bag, lightly closed at the top' more air is admitted as flowers approach
maturity so that they are adequately hardened for final sale.

K. Pulsing
         The principle of pulsing is to fill the plant tissues with carbohydrates to ensure that there
is sufficient substrate for the flowers to mature and posses longivity. It is particularly used with
winter grown crops where development has been slow, and in poor light conditions, e.g. late
gladioli or roses.

       Sugar is added to the appropriate biocide at rates varying from three per cent for roses
to 20 per cent for carnations; the tolerance of each crop in fact each cultivar to high levels of
sugar must be learned. The stems are placed in the solution for approximately 16-24 hours at a
temperature of 20°c add a relative humidity (RH) of approximately 60 per cent.

       Since solutions with a high sugar content are in fact syrups, it is necessary to wash the
base of the sterns to remove excess sugar. This is done for convenience in packing, to limit
sugar damage to the stems, and to inhibit the growth of micro-organisms on the residual sugar.

III. Marketing of Flowers

      Increasing consumption growers action, export aspects, local outlets, alternate outlets
and packaging are the subheads under which we can consider the marketing of flowers.

A. Increasing consumption
        Consumption of cut flowers at the local level could be greatly increased if flowers are
readily available. The increasing number of floral boutiques and stalls in the larger cities
increases flower availability. Consumption of flowers can be increased by the following
practices.

1. Change people's mentality in order to convince them that it is right to buy and give flowers.
Encourage their use to such an extent that flowers and plants are a part of life.
2. Provide plenty of purchase places and outlets.
3. Maintain the price of flowers for home use at a reasonable level; a higher price will always be
paid for a gift.
4. Inform the public what flowers are available, and how to use and treat them. Promote flowers
in general, as compared with other products.
5. The grower's responsibility is that the flowers should have good lasting quality and that they
satisfy customers, encouraging them to a continued purchasing of flowers.

        One of the main reasons for the limited consumption of cut flowers in India is the lack of
opportunity for people to buy them. The florists trade depends on orders, made up material for
gifts and occasions such as presentations, weddings and funerals. It is noticeable that florists in
India tend not to price their flowers in contrast with overseas florists. A few have display points
or construct more attractive stalls with priced bunches. Fortunately this tendency is increasing,
but the take home trade still forms only a small proportion of the average florist's income.

        Experience gained from marketing and the need to sell flowers produced in commercial
quantities has shown that there are untapped outlets waiting to be developed. It must be
realized that people commence to buy flowers on impulse at first, and then it becomes a habit.
Similarly people buy flowers as gifts. Slogans such as "Flowers say care"; "say it with flowers" ,
"flowers make a loving home" all indicate the message which a gift of flowers can convey.

B. Grower's action
        The above mentioned are general points; the individual grower must take more specific
action. Indeed, before even growing a crop, the grower must decide whether it is marketable. It
is essential to answer the question. What is wanted on the market can I grow it? Too frequently
the producer grows a crop and then looks for an outlet. There may be one or two outlets, but
they may not provide an adequate return. In essence the grower must draw up a marketing
plan. Whatever market is supplied the way in which the grower packs and presents the flowers
and foliage, the stage at which they are picked and their appearance at the selling stage, all
affect both the price received and the grower's image in the market place. These considerations
can also influence the demand, or lack of it, for the product. The grower must visit the selling
points regularly and the customer if possible in order 10 compare the quality of flowers offered
10 learn of new products and obtain comments on the grower's produce.

        Although the market may indicate flowers which are in short supply, good demand and
making high prices, it is most unwise to attempt to get for each product a good market. Others
are also aware of the possibilities, so supplies increase and prices drop. It is preferable to plant
when prices are low in anticipation of other producers switching to new products with a
consequent increase in demand and improvement of prices. Once established as a supplier of a
specific product, a reasonable return, despite changes in supply, is likely. The alternative is to
develop new markets, as with carnations where the increase in production is almost entirely for
export. However there will still be flowers below export grade to be disposed of, hence the need
to expand local outlets and consumption.

1. Grower as a seller
        Unless a producer has a sound business outlook and marketing experience, it is better
to leave the selling to those who are experienced. In the following sections alternative outlets
are listed and compared; normally the grower selects one system of selling, perhaps that of
supplying the auctions; this may be his main activity but it can be supplemented by sell- ing
through a wholesaler. Considerable effort and expertise is needed to become a marketer and
seller of ones own product.

2. Disposal of surplus
        At certain periods of the year, there may be no markets, for example public holidays or
there may be a very limited demand for flowers, mid January for instance. Similarly, outlets may
be glutted, as in the peak of the chrysanthemum season. It may not be worthwhile marketing all
the flowers only selecting the finest quality and selling them wholesale. However the flowers still
need to be picked. At these times the grower can build up considerable good-will and probably
interest and stimulate new purchasers by donating flowers to old and young people's homes
and to voluntary charitable organizations etc. At one time it was the practice of the Indian
commercial flower growers association to collect flowers at their annual conference and donate
them to such organizations in the center where the conference was held. This proved beneficial
both to the donors and the recipients. It is better to find an outlet and a recipient for harvested
flowers than to drop them in the local dump; familiarization with flowers can stimulate local
purchase and use.

C. Export aspects
       The potential countries from export point of view are Australia, Europe, Japan, South
East Asia and USA. Wholesale purchasers in overseas markets regard flowers as a commodity
from which they can make money. Indian grown flowers are of use only to supplement local
supplies, or to be an additional product on which a profit is made. An export grower in particular,
needs to understand the outlook of the overseas seller and should cooperate with him to ensure
the maximum return to each party.

      There are five main channels or outlets through which export flowers can be sold
overseas.

1. Established horticultural exporters
        Currently, the majority of export flowers and foliage are sold by large horticultural
marketing firms, or by wholesalers who already have overseas contacts. Produce may be
bought by the firm at a fixed price. In the former the grower has a specific income; in the former,
in the latter the market determines the price. There is a risk of non delivery etc, but the grower
can claim export rebates and similar incentives.

2. Cooperatives and growers limited liability companies
       A recent development is the establishment by several existing growers into a
cooperative selling organization. Producers buy shares in the company which arranges the sale
of each shareholders product. It is likely that this system will develop further in the future,
especially in areas such as Punjab and Karnataka (Bangalore).

        Organization of this type is very useful for growers who produce one line for a limited
period, for instance, gypsophila in mid-summer, as this product can be added to other supplies
to make a marketable export quantity. Additionally since growers are a part of the management
team, they realize the producers' problems.
       Cooperatives have proved outstandingly successful in Europe; the Dutch growers own
the auctions in France, the growers' cooperatives sell Brittany growers produce and, even in
England, marketing cooperative are proving to be as profitable, if not more so, than individuals.

         It is unlikely that Indian flowers will go through one selling desk in the way that other
agricultural products are entirely sold overseas by the National Cooperative Marketing
Federation (NAFED) Limited and Agricultural Processed Food Products Export Development
Authority (APEDA). But generally for this country centralized selling, or selling through a limited
number of outlets has proved to be the most appropriate and profitable method of disposing of a
grouped selection of produce. Organizations of this type can offer quantity with specific grades
of quality to large buyers overseas and can also concentrate on the selling, leaving the grower
to produce to the required standards. Overseas markets in particular, must be supplied to very
strict standards of quality, similarity of flower type, stem length etc, one bunch must be a typical
sample of the whole consignment.

3. Individuals or marketeers
        Increasingly, a group of entrepreneurs or merchants are establishing themselves. They
act as the seller for the producer, but do not have the physical equipment, or the capital
investment of the markets. To protect markets, prevent weak selling and the competition of
similar produce in one market, it is likely that a system similar to the APEDA (Agricultural
Processed Foods Export Development Authority of India) or NAFAD (National Agricultural
Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd.) will be established specially for cut flowers.
Licensed exporters would be allocated markets, although they would compete with one another
as suppliers.

4. Overseas buyers
        It is probable that large overseas wholesale flower markets will either order flowers
directly from Indian growers or establish agents here who will buy on their behalf. With the
development closer economic relations with Europe and Australia there could be a mutual flow
of produce organized by
such a firm, provided the products conform to the plant quarantine requirements of each
country.

5. Direct sales
       Individual producers of orchids, carnations, roses, etc. have already established
overseas purchasers of their products, their customers are usually wholesale florists with
several outlets, rather than wholesale, or auction markets. With this selling system it is essential
to have sufficient quantity to maintain an adequate supply of consistent quality over the cropping
period of the particular flowers.

D. Local outlets
        The majority of flower growers depend on local sales for their main income; many
growers producing entirely for export tend to have an alternative income. Local sales can be
separated into two types; price takers, where the grower accepts a price which the seller sets,
e.g. auction markets and price makers, where the grower establishes the price. The former
relieves the grower of any marketing responsibilities other than to pack and send the produce
with a consignment note. The grower is very promptly paid, but he must accept the price
received, less commission and this will vary greatly depending on supplies of these and other
flowers, on social occasions and on the time of year etc.
       A price maker must be the marketer determining a price which will both make a profit
and be one which the customers are prepared to pay. Costs of transport return packages etc.
must be established with the customers, and there is a risk of delayed payment or bad debts.
Overall the return will often , exceed that which could be expected from the market since with
increasing supplies, market prices are more frequently low especially in warm weather.

        Direct sale is suitable for growers who specialize in a crop which has a large turnover
and continued supply such as chrysanthemums these also have a range of cultivars which
provide variety for the seller. Specialized flowers such as Stephanotis or bulk products such as
narcissi which have a short season, are probably better sold partially on the auction market.
Frequently green grocers will be the buyers of these bunch flowers especially in the main
centres. The local outlets may be through auction markets, wholesalers, established
horticultural markets, direct sale, pick one's own.

1. Auction markets
        The main auctioneering firms in metropolitan cities like Delhi have a separate section in
which flowers are auctioned; commissions range from 10-15 per cent, depending on the value
of annual sales. Methods of displaying, handling and selling the flowers are antiquated
compared with overseas where flowers are sold by container; or by sample, and in large
quantities of any one kind.

       Currently instead of each florist bidding for the required line and the bidding being
repeated, there is a tendency for one person to buy on behalf of others; thus the requirements
can be met without personal attendance, saving the buyers valuable time.

       As mentioned before, green grocers can be a useful out-let for flowers and they look for
a good, consistent long, lasting characteristics not the poorest quality.

2. Wholesalers
       There are two groups of wholesalers.
1. Order departments of the produce auctioneers.
2. Independent flower wholesalers.

        The majority of the auction firms run an order department which sells produce at specific
price to out of town firms, dairies, and large consumers. Especially where there is f no flower
auction, some firms sell flowers only in this way.

        This method of sale does not stimulate additional purchasing, and the prices charged to
the purchaser, or paid to the grower depend on the judgment of the chief seller backed by
information received from the other markets. In smaller centres, for example in Punjab many
part-time growers supply such as outlet and generally the order takers cannot shift large
quantities of anyone line.

3. Established horticultural markets
         In the main centres there are individual firms acting as agents for the growers. They
accept consignments or will order flowers from growers and attempt to make the highest price
by visiting the florists, or buying on their behalf. They charge a commission on sales. This form
of selling is likely to increase since it has proved most successful in Europe and the USA. As
more flower outlets are opened up, these will need servicing.

4. Direct sale
        Increasingly, growers located away from the main production regions and where no
flower market exists are tending to supply florists with definite quantities at a price fixed
according to the season. Naturally this is higher in winter than in summer. The advantage of this
method being that the grower can calculate the likely return and, despite slumps in the market
price, will receive a reasonable income from the product. As already mentioned, there are the
additional complications of invoicing debt collection, transport etc.

        Overall those growers who use this marketing method seem satisfied with its operation.
It also encourages the grower to produce a wider range of products or grow a larger number of
cultivars so spreading the risk slightly. It is of course necessary to decide on appropriate prices
and attempt by every means to supply the quality and quantity required rather than chasing after
temporarily higher prices at the auction.

5. Pick one's own
       Compared with horticultural commodities such as berry fruit or vegetables, there is little
development of regular direct sale from the holding to the public. Each customer's requirements
are usually small. However, at times of peak flowering of a seasonal crop such as narcisices or
chrysanthemums pick your own will work better. This produces income from flowers which might
otherwise have been left unpicked. The income must be offset against any crop damage which
may occur.

E. Alternative outlets
        Selling through groups, super markets, other retail out- lets and other retail outlets are
the alternative outlets cut flower marketing.

1. Selling through groups
        In all large institutions, such as offices, department stores, hospitals, factories etc. there
are large numbers of employees who usually belong to social clubs and similar groups which
have buying privileges. By arrangement with the organizers, it is possible to market made up
bunches of flowers to the staff at a profit both to the grower and the organization. To maintain
continuity, it may be necessary to supplement such sales with supplies from producers of other
flowers, or to grow supporting filling material such as gypsophila, alstroemeria or foliage. One
advantage is that this outlet may take second quality but saleable produce, thus allowing the
supplier to upgrade his first quality producer and relieving the packer of making the decision
whether or not the flower is good enough for first grade. Since the packer should work on the
principle, “one poor flower in a bunch reduces the value of that consignment".

2. Supermarkets
       Supermarkets are becoming increasingly more active in the produce field, even to the
extent of contracting with vegetable growers for supplies. In the USA, especially supermarkets
are a major outlet for plants and flowers; here mainly plants are sold but with the organization of
supply correct presentation in attractive self service stands and staff training super markets
could develop as a useful outlet for cut flowers.

3. Other retail outlets
       Other non-traditional retailers also offer outlets for cut flowers; dairies in particular,
especially if near hospitals also garden centres. As flower growers are members of the Indian
Nursery men's Association, it would appear feasible, and mutually profitable, for garden centres
to market flowers as well as plants, bowls, vases and similar products. In fact, experience
shows that bunches of proteas can stimulate sales of the plants themselves. Sales tend to be
peak at the weekends and as most garden centres are open all day Saturday and some on
Sunday these outlets can dispose of flowers between the customary auction days of Thursday
and Monday.

       Outlets of lesser importance are service stations which offer a range of products and
excess taverns; in fact, any where that people frequent, and spend their disposable income.

F. Packaging
       The essential features of any package are that it should protect the product until it
reaches the purchases and for the producer, that it allows the product to be transported in bulk.
A secondary use is that the package can advertise, and stimulate consumption of the product it
contains.

       When flowers are produced close to the market they are often delivered in bunches,
nearly wrapped in an outer layer of paper; occasionally, even standing upright in containers of
water.

        The majority of flowers are packed in returnable card-board cartons non returnable
cartons now being too expensive. There is at present no standard sized carton for the different
flowers, though negotiations are taking place with manufacturers to produce cartons suitable for
carnations and also chrysanthemums. To ensure that the cartons are returned to the supplier it
is necessary to place a return address both on the base and the lid; all these cartons are
collapsible to ensure reuse.

       It is to the exporter's advantage to design an attractive package, preferably incorporating
a logo or a brand name thus providing a market image so that the supplier and product can
become known.

         When packaging flowers it is essential that they are placed and held firmly in the carton;
with the exception of straight, narrow bunches such as irises, it is necessary slightly to
compress each bunch of flower heads to fit in the next one. However, this must not be done so
firmly that the petals are damaged. Basically, the larger the bunch, the better they pack and the
less individual flowers become crushed. Overseas, flowers such as roses are wrapped into
bunches of tens or twenty fives the whole package being surrounded by an outer wrapper to
make 200 blooms. One of the advantages of sleeving is the fact that each bunch is a separate
entity, so the flowers in adjacent bunches do not intertwine. Preferably sleeves should be
perforated, or made of an uneven, not : smooth, plastic film, thus providing air movement
around the flowers and limiting condensation.

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