Packing and Preparing Shipment
Date of packing 12-01-2006.
Harvesting flowers in the greenhouse at greenhouse temperatures (15-20 degrees Celsius) and at the right opening stage (VBN Netherlands criteria www.vbn.nl ), meaning that the buds can not be open yet, but do show some colour.
Processing the cut flowers after harvest, placing them directly on Flower Care® (fresh flower food!) for a couple of hours. After that the flowers can be processed in the normal way and placed directly into Flower Transport Gel® and a sleeve (15-20 ml of gel per sleeve). During this shipment the small, manual sleeve was being used. There are also larger sleeves available on semi-automatic machinery that makes it possible to process large quantities of flowers per hour.
After packing the flower bunches, it is highly recommended to pre-cool the flowers to about 3 degrees Celsius. The heat within the flowers coming out of the greenhouse (after harvest at about 20-25 degrees Celsius), will have to be taken out of the flowers in order to decrease the activity of the flowers and leaves.
Packing flowers into boxes. Due to the Flower Transport Gel® the flowers can be packed in the traditional way into boxes without hydrating. This way a lot of space is being saved without loosing quality of product. During this shipment some flowers were packed and shipped standing-up. This was done to see if there might be a difference between the 2 ways of shipping the flowers (horizontally or vertically).
Extra protection in the corners off the boxes. In case of heavy loads and humidity within the boxes, the lower placed boxes on each pallet might collapse due to the large weight on top of each box. By strengthening the corners of the boxes placed on the lower parts of the pallet, we can avoid boxes collapsing or deforming during transport. It is very important to have air holes in the boxes; in case there is still humidity present it will be able to leave the box.
Close the plastic sleeves 100%. The sleeve is a special micro-perforated sleeve that will create a modified atmosphere together with the flowers. For now a standard general sleeve has been used that works. In the future it is likely to have a specific micro-perforated sleeve for each different group of flowers considering the amount of foliage and flowers in order to create the ideal modified atmosphere.
A new model of boxes for transport in reefer container is already in progress (easy to load a reefer, thicker carton and more air holes) that fits even better in the reefer container.
After rapping the boxes, the flowers are ready for final transportation towards the harbour. In the meanwhile the boxes stay indoors at the right temperature being about 3 degrees Celsius.