Clean water is the starting point for any good care and handling program in your store. A few practical steps can prepare your water for cut flower processing and reduce the risk of microbial contamination.
General cleanliness and routine sanitation of your facility is essential to maintain the quality of cut flowers. The goal of preparing a clean environment is not to have sterile water but to keep the microbes from reaching damaging levels.
First, start with a clean container to hold water. A clean bucket and clean tools will ensure that the initial microbe level is minimal. It’s a good habit to routinely use a commercial cleaner and a disinfectant to sanitize containers.
Second, use an inexpensive test kit to check the microbe levels in your water. An example of such test kit is the Sani-Check test kit for bacteria from Biosan Laboratories Inc. in Warren, Michigan (biosan.com, starting at around $100). If you use municipal drinking water, the microbe levels are most likely low. Furthermore, using commercial treatments for cut flowers in proper dosages should keep water clean.
Remember, understanding the amount of microbes in your water is vital for getting the best postharvest quality of cut flowers. Routine checks and sanitation practices will help prevent the microbes in your water from reaching damaging levels.
Anil P. Ranwala, Ph.D., is the manager of Postharvest Research and Development for Floralife, a Division of Smithers-Oasis Company, and a contributing writer for Floral Management magazine.