Ethylene is an odorless, colorless gas which acts as a plant hormone. Thus it can be a growth regulator or a harmful pollutant of horticultural crops. Major losses caused by the “death hormone” can occur with high value crops such as greenhouse-grown potted plants and cut flowers, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Economic losses to greenhouse growers from ethylene pollution are reported each year and many more probably occur, but are not correctly diagnosed. This leaflet discusses ethylene sources and symptoms of damage, and how to prevent them
The North Carolina State University (NCSU) Plant Disease and Insect Clinic offers a service for testing ethylene. This leaflet describes the sampling procedures to follow and fees for submitting ethylene pollution samples. (For more details about ethylene pollution in the greenhouse, consult HIL #530, entitled Ethylene: Sources, Symptoms, and Prevention for Greenhouse Crops .) This service is designed to test ethylene levels in greenhouses and is available to any greenhouse grower.