We present a laser photoacoustic system which is able to detect a minimum absorption coefficient of 7.1 × 10<sup>−1</sup> cm<sup>−1</sup> corresponding to a concentration of 20 parts per trillion of C<sub>2</sub>H<sub>4</sub> in air. Improvements made to achieve this sensitivity are reported, and this low limit is applied to the detection of the C<sub>2</sub>H<sub>4</sub> emission of a single orchid flower after emasculation. In addition, the absorption coefficients and detection limits of the following agriculturally interesting gases are measured: ozone, hydrogen sulphide, 1,2 dibromoethane, and ethylacetate.
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