Easter Lily Schedule

2019 University of Connecticut

Easter Lily Schedule
Richard McAvoy

Prior To
Forcing Method
Case-Cooled Pot-Cooled (CTF)
25 Oct. 28

This schedule designed to produce 16” lilies that bloom 1-week before Easter. Bulbs dug in early October and may arrive well ahead of the ideal start date of 23 weeks before Easter. No matter when bulbs arrive be prepared to start programming immediately. Upon arrival inspect bulbs for insects, rots or physical damage.

23 Nov. 11 Start bulb programming as soon as bulbs arrive but no later than 23 weeks before Easter.
Cool at 40-45F for 6- weeks Pot and allow roots to grow at 60-62F for 3-weeks
20 Dec. 2
Cool at 40-45F for 6 weeks
17 Dec. 23 Pot no later than 17 weeks before Easter
Force in greenhouse at 60-62F in pot.
14 Jan. 13

Shoots emerging ~ 0.5" tall & buds beginning to set. Start fertilizing & keep moist.

Begin greenhouse forcing no later than week 14. Maintain pots at 60-62F.
13 Jan. 20

1.25-1.5" tall. Keep lilies moist & use fungicide drench as needed. Run 60-62F day/ night during bud initiation. Bud initiation coincides with stem root development.

12 Jan. 27

2.25-2.5" tall. Run 60-62F day/ night during bud initiation. Check for bud set & begin leaf counting and graphical tracking.

11 Feb. 3

3-3.5" tall. Apply growth regulator as needed. Keep below 65F until bud set is complete.

10 Feb. 10

4-4.5" tall. Begin leaf counting as soon as bud set is complete. Use temperature to control the rate of lily development & DIF to control height. ADT 65-70F. Check for aphids & root problems. Apply Marathon sometime during weeks 10, 9, or 8.

9 Feb. 17

4.75-5.5" tall. Space lilies to avoid yellow leaves & stretching. Soil test & if leaf scorch is evident, use 15-0-15 for balance of schedule otherwise maintain complete nutrition. Repeat leaf count on late batches of lilies.

8 Feb. 24

5.5-6.5" tall. Adjust temperatures as needed.

7 Mar. 3

6.5-7.5" tall. 42 days to sale. Buds can be felt. If buds are visible on early planting run 60F until finish.

6 Mar. 10

7.25-8.5" tall. Buds ~0.75". Lilies are about half final height. Buds should be visible no later than 30 days prior to sale. Grade for uniformity as buds become visible. Apply Fascination or Fresco if leaf yellowing is evident, or if cooling is anticipated.

5 Mar. 17

Lilies 9-10.25" tall. Buds 1.25" long.

4 Mar. 24

Lilies 10.5-12" tall. Buds 1.75-2" some bending down.

3 Mar. 31

Lilies 12-13.5" tall. Buds 2.75". If aphids present, use a total release smoke or aerosol.

2 Apr. 7

Lilies 13.5-15.25" tall. Buds 4-4.25" long. Some turning whitish. Stop fertilizing & apply clear water once before sale. Cool lilies at 35-45F to hold. Apply Fascination or Fresco prior to cold storage.

1 Apr. 14

Final lily height 15-17" tall. Buds 6-6.25" long & at or near bloom. Shade lilies immediately after they are removed from storage.

0 Apr. 21

Easter Sunday 2019


Easter 2019 outlook: Easter falls on a late date in 2019 (April 21). The 2019 schedule has more than enough time to complete the full 23 week program without cutting corners. In fact most growers will be challenged with holding the crop back from finishing too early.

Pot-cooled bulbs are normally potted & held for three weeks at 60-62F before the six weeks of bulb cooling (at 40-45F) begins (see the 2018 Easter Lily schedule for details). The bulbs then require 14 weeks of greenhouse forcing. This entire process requires 23 weeks from initial potting to Easter. This same process is used for both naturally cooled or CTF bulbs.

Case-cooled bulbs require six weeks of cooling followed by 17 weeks of greenhouse forcing to flower in time for Easter. Be sure that commercially casecooled bulb arrive & are planted by Dec 23, 2018. If cooling your own bulbs, start when bulbs arrive but no later than Nov 11th (23 wks before Easter).

Insurance lighting: Insurance lighting will NOT BE NEEDED this season. Everyone should be able to complete the full 6-weeks (1000-hours) of bulb cooling before the designated greenhouse forcing date.

Fertigation: Start fertilizing using a 15-0-15 or comparable formulation when lilies emerge. If phosphorus was not added to the medium, 20-10-20 can be used on an alternating basis with a 15-0-15. Fertilizer rates should range from 200-400 ppm. Do not allow medium EC to exceed 3-3.5 mmho/cm based on a Saturated Media Extract. Stop fertilizing 1-week prior to sale and use clear watering prior to shipping to reduce salt levels and maximize keeping quality. Do not withhold water or fertilizer to slow development. Do not over water (i.e. water too frequently) or root rot problems may occur.

Decrease Leaf Yellowing & Delay Flower Senescence: To prevent early-season leaf yellowing (7 to 10 days before visible bud) & mid-season leaf yellowing (7 to 10 days after visible bud) spray Fascination or Fresco at 10/10 ppm. Apply only to lower leaves & cover thoroughly. To prevent late-season leaf yellowing and post-harvest flower senescence, spray 100/100 ppm to thoroughly cover all foliage & buds. Apply when buds are 3 to 3 ½” long BUT NOT MORE than 14 days before shipping or cooling. Protects leaves from yellowing for up to 14 days. Note: Avoid direct contact of spray to immature leaves during early- & mid-season applications or increased stem stretch will result.

Disease and pest control: Before planting, clean bulbs of debris removing any damaged scales, especially scales that show evidence of infection. Once potted, root rots associated with Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, and Pythium are a concern. Drench immediately with Banrot, Pageant Intrinsic, broad-spectrum fungicides, or you can treat to control these diseases separately by selecting from the fungicides specifically registered for Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Pythium control on lily. Materials registered for Rhizoctonia and/or Fusarium include 3336, OHP 6672, 26GT, 26/36 and many generics; Pageant Intrinsic, Emblem, Mural and Terraclor (Rhizoctonia). Materials registered for controlling Pythium include Alude, Banol, Subdue MAXX (beware of using mefenoxam exclusively because of widespread fungicide resistance issues with this active ingredient), Segway O, and Truban. Check with manufacturers regarding compatibility when tank mixing fungicides. Fungicides may need to be re-applied later in the crop, check labels for guidance. Preventative biological fungicides (RootShield, Rootshield Plus, Cease, Actinovate, Mycostop, Companion, Prestop and Triathlon BA or Double- Nickel (Triathlon BA and Double-Nickel have the same a.i.) may be applied at planting for disease suppression and to enhance root growth. Check with company or product labels information for safe time intervals between application of biological agents and chemical fungicides.

Aphids, fungus gnats and bulb mites are a major concern. Many chemicals are listed for aphid control, including: Safari, Flagship, Tristar, Marathon and many generics, DuraGuard, Enstar AQ, Suffoil X, M- Pede, Kontos, Endeavor, Aria, Mainspring GNL and Rycar. Fungus gnats may be controlled with some of these same chemicals as well as Citation, Distance, Adept, Pylon, insect parasitic nematodes (Nemasys, NemaShield, Scanmask, Entonem) and Gnatrol WDG. Bulb mites, Rhizoglyphus robini, represent one of the more troublesome insect pests on lilies and effective management requires an integrated approach. Bulb mites are considered a secondary pest and are commonly associated with decay caused by fungus gnat damage and soil-borne fungal pathogens. Note: Registration of pesticides varies by state so consult and follow labels for registered use. To avoid any potential phytotoxicity or residue problems, spot test before widespread use. No discrimination is intended for any products not listed.

Note: Registration of pesticides varies by state so consult and follow labels for registered uses. To avoid any potential phytotoxicity or residue problems, spot test first before widespread use. No discrimination is intended for any products not listed.

Controlling Lily Height: Monitor lily height regularly during forcing. If height exceeds the target size, run negative DIF or use a growth retardant such as A-Rest, Chlormequat E-Pro, Concise, Cycocel or Sumagic to slow stem elongation. If height is less than the target size, run positive DIF or use a gibberellin PRG such as Fascination or Fresco to increase stem elongation. Split applications of PGRs provide the best results. You can apply any of the PGRs at ½ to ¼ the normal rate (or even less) and use multiple applications as needed. Reduce the concentrations of Sumagic used when combined with DIF. Use DIF, or cool morning DIP, to control lily height. Equal day/night temperatures, high night/low day temperatures or a cool morning temperature dip will produce a DIF effect and keep lilies short.

Lily storage: Lilies can be stored for up to 14 days in the dark at 35-45F when buds turn white but before they open. Spray for Botrytis control prior to moving lilies to cold storage. Fungicides labeled for botrytis control include Affirm, Phyton, and the biofungicide Cease. Always follow label directions and test fungicides on a small group of lilies for damage to or residue on lily buds before using on the entire crop. Water Easter lilies thoroughly before starting cold storage. After removing from the cooler, place lilies in a shady location to avoid excessive wilting.

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