Long Distance Shipping of Show Trusses
Francis W. Mosher Jr., Woodacre, California
Continued progress is reported in the shipping of rhododendrons and azalea trusses and sprays over considerable distances by air freight. The goal of a national Rhododendron Show may soon be reached.
Experimental shipping by Howard W. Oliver, of Menlo Park, California, a member of the San Mateo chapter, A.R.S., as first reported in the January, 1974 Quarterly has continued with a high percentage of success. However, his "soda pop" formula is gradually being changed.
The results of judging at the 1974 Portland Convention show would indicate that changes Oliver has made in the formula were successful. Canada Dry ginger ale is being substituted for 7-Up, Sprite or Fresca and a commercial nursery product "Floralife", which contains napthalene-acetic acid, has been added. At present, Oliver is using one-half teaspoon of "Floralife" for each 6 inch test tube of ginger ale. This is a higher percentage of the commercial product than recommended by the manufacturer.
Two large standard chrysanthemum shipping boxes of extra-strength cardboard, measuring 2 feet x 5 feet, 14 inches deep, were lined with thermal plastic insulation sprayed inside by commercial equipment. A Styrofoam sheet was cut to size and fitted tight inside the bottom of the shipping boxes. Test tubes having rubber stoppers were punched into this sheet. Test tubes used were 6 inches, 3 inches, or 2 inches in depth and could accommodate all trusses and sprays shipped to Portland, Oregon.
Of the 45 blooms shipped by air freight from San Francisco International airport about eighty percent arrived in good condition. Prior to shipping, Oliver had notified Dr. Frank Mossman of the flight number and estimated arrival time of the aircraft at Portland. Mrs. Mossman reported no difficulty in receiving the shipment and transporting it to the show site.
Rhododendron and azalea trusses had been picked up by Oliver from Everett Farwell's Garden, the Strybing Arboretum and from his own garden. Results of the Portland show judging were surprising, with Strybing Arboretum placing sixth and Oliver eleventh in the sweepstakes division. His truss of "Leo" was declared the best blood-red hybrid exhibited.
He reports that best results were achieved when trusses having one or two unopened buds were picked as early as five or six hours before actual shipment and held inside airport refrigerator rooms at a maximum temperature of about 40° F.
Further experimental shipments to rhododendron shows within the continental limits of the United States are planned. Results will be closely watched.