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Open access

Analena B. Bruce, Elizabeth T. Maynard, Julia C.D. Valliant, and James R. Farmer

High tunnels are a low-cost technology that can strengthen local and regional food systems and have been shown to help farmers extend the growing season and increase the yield and shelf life, and improve the quality of their crops. This study addresses a need for a better understanding of farmers’ experience with integrating high tunnels into their operations, to understand the human dimensions of high tunnel management. We present an analysis of survey and interview data to examine how farm characteristics affect the outcomes of growing specialty crops in high tunnels. Our findings show that farmers managing different types of farms have taken distinct approaches to integrating and managing high tunnels on their farms, with important implications for farm-level outcomes. We identify three types of farms commonly adopting high tunnels in Indiana: 1) alternative food and agriculture enterprises (AFAEs) are consumer-oriented, small-scale farms that sell their products directly to their customers in relationship-based market networks such as farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture; 2) mixed enterprise farmers have larger operations and sell into both conventional commodity markets and direct markets; and 3) side enterprise farmers operate small-scale enterprises and their primary household income comes from off-farm employment or another business. Farm type is associated with divergent levels of time and labor investment, resulting in higher capacity use of high tunnels and greater financial return for AFAE farmers who make high tunnels central to their business, compared with mixed and side enterprise farmers who invest less time and labor into their high tunnels. We explain how farm characteristics and approaches to adopting the infrastructure shape farmers’ success and high-capacity use of high tunnels.

Open access

Yasmina Chourak, El Hassan Belarbi, Evelynn Y. Martínez-Rivera, Tatiana Pagan Loeiro da Cunha-Chiamolera, Ana Araceli Peña-Fernández, José Luis Guil-Guerrero, and Miguel Urrestarazu

Saffron is one of the most appreciated, traditional, and expensive spices in the world. The objective of our study was to evaluate the effect of cooling the nutrient solution on the production, and organoleptic and commercial qualities of saffron grown in soilless culture. The nutrient solution was cooled to 4 to 5 °C whereas the control treatment was the fertigation supplied at ambient temperature. Corms were placed in a controlled cultivation chamber. The number of flowers per corms, and the weight and length of stigmas were measured. The amounts of safranal, crocin, and picrocrocin were analyzed spectrophotometrically according to the International Organization for Standardization [ISO/TS 3632-2 (2011) Normative]. Our results show that cooling of the nutritive solution increased flower production, the commercial phytochemical content, and organoleptic properties.

Open access

David R. Coyle, Brayden M. Williams, and Donald L. Hagan

Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) is an invasive tree across much of the eastern United States that can form dense thickets, and tree branches and stems are often covered in sharp thorns. Landowners and land managers attempting to manage callery pear infestations are faced with the challenge of killing and/or removing the trees while also avoiding thorn damage to equipment, which can lead to wasted time and increased costs. We evaluated fire as management tool to reduce the likelihood of equipment damage from callery pear thorns. Branches were collected in the field from callery pear trees that were killed by herbicide, and also from untreated trees, and half the branches from each group were then burned with a propane garden torch to simulate a low-intensity prescribed fire. After treatment, all branches were returned either to an old field or forest floor for 1 year, after which thorn puncture strength was evaluated and compared with freshly cut thorns. Herbicide treatment and location did not affect thorn strength, but burning reduced the likelihood that thorns would puncture a tire. Fire increased tip width, which reduced thorn sharpness. Burning also reduced wood strength, and fungi proliferated on burned thorns after 1 year in the field or forest. Both factors likely contributed to decreasing thorn strength and probability of puncture. Our results show that using prescribed fire as a management tool can weaken callery pear thorns and dull their tips, reducing the chance of equipment damage and costs associated with clearing land of this invasive species. Leaving cut callery pear trees on the ground for 1 year increased fungal colonization, which may also reduce thorn damage. Prescribed fire can be part of an effective integrated management plan for this, and possibly other, thorny invasive flora.

Open access

Chunlian Jin, Dan Sun, Chang Wei, Zhenhua Guo, Chunmei Yang, and Fan Li

Gypsophila paniculata is an ornamental crop with medicinal value. To date, limited information has been reported about the natural products in G. paniculata to explain its medicinal function. The current study reports the natural products found in G. paniculata stem for the first time. Thirty-three compounds were isolated from the extract of G. paniculata stem and identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, 10 of which have contents >2%. These were 2-O-methyl-D-mannopyranose (37.4706%), glycerol (12.5669%), two tetratetracontane isomer (7.6523 + 3.5145%), tetrahygro-4-pyranol (5.3254%), 1,6-anhydro-beta-d-glucopyranos (4.7507%), palmitic acid (4.1848%), 4-hydroxy-3-methoxystyrene (3.7439%), methyl-octadeca-9,12-dienoate (2.7490%), and 2-deoxy-D-galactose (2.6193%). Another bioactive compound, condrillasterol, was identified with 1.3384% content. We also reported that G. paniculata possesses antioxidant activity possibly associated with the presence of a phenolic chemical 4-hydroxy-3-methoxystyrene. Our data collectively demonstrate that G. paniculata contains some bioactive compounds with high contents and antioxidants, consistent with its role as a medicinal herb.

Open access

Maegen Lewis, Melanie Stock, Brent Black, Dan Drost, and Xin Dai

The demand for locally grown, specialty cut flowers is increasing and now includes nontraditional regions for production, such as the U.S. Intermountain West. The objective of this study was to evaluate snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L.) as a cool season, cut flower crop in northern Utah, where the high elevation and semiarid climate result in a short growing season with strong daily temperature fluctuations. High tunnel and field production methods were trialed in North Logan, UT (41.77°N, 111.81°W, 1382 m elevation) with cultivars ‘Chantilly’, ‘Potomac’, and ‘Rocket’ in 2018 and 2019. Each year, five to six transplant timings at 3-week intervals were tested, beginning in early February in high tunnels and ending in late May in an unprotected field. Stems were harvested and graded according to quality and stem length. High tunnels advanced production by 5 to 8 weeks, whereas field harvests continued beyond the high tunnel harvests by 2 to 8 weeks. High tunnels yielded 103 to 110 total stems per m2 (65% to 89% marketability), whereas field yields were 111 to 162 total stems per m2 (34% to 58% marketability). Overall, production was the greatest with March transplant timings in the high tunnels and mid-April transplant timings in the field. ‘Chantilly’ consistently bloomed the earliest on 4 and 6 May each year, ‘Potomac’ had the highest percentage of long stem lengths, and ‘Rocket’ extended marketable stem production through July in high tunnels. Selecting optimal transplant dates in the high tunnel and field based on cultivar bloom timing maximizes marketable yields and results in a harvest window lasting 4.5 months.

Open access

Chengyan Yue, Manlin Cui, Eric Watkins, and Aaron Patton

Important financial savings, along with reductions in environmental impact, can be achieved by planting lawns with low-input turfgrass species. Drawing on data from an online survey, this article provides empirical evidence on the factors that influence consumers’ willingness to adopt low-input turfgrasses. We group consumers into two segments: Willing Adopters and Reluctant Homeowners. Regardless of segment, consumers who regard maintenance requirements as more important were more willing to adopt low-input turfgrasses, whereas those who placed a higher value on appearance, were more unlikely to change to a low-input turfgrass, especially for Reluctant Homeowners. We categorized the barriers to adoption as follows: 1) Promotion, 2) Benefits and Accessibility, 3) Peer Effect, 4) Sample, and 5) Information. Our models predict that consumers’ willingness to adopt low-input turfgrass can be significantly increased if the identified barriers are removed. Based on our study, suppliers/retailers should adopt heterogeneous and multiple marketing strategies, such as promoting through multiple channels, informing and advising the public on proper information, providing photos or exhibiting in-store samples, triggering communication between different types of consumers, and providing incentives and improving accessibility, to target different consumer groups.

Open access

Jonathan H. Crane, Pollyana Cardoso Chagas, and Edvan Alves Chagas

Open access

Reagan W. Hejl, Benjamin G. Wherley, and Charles H. Fontanier

Landscape irrigation frequency restrictions are commonly imposed by water purveyors and municipalities to curtail domestic water use and to ensure adequate water supplies for growing populations during times of drought. Currently, published data are lacking concerning irrigation frequency requirements necessary for sustaining acceptable levels of turfgrass quality of commonly used warm-season turfgrass species. The objective of this 3-year field study was to determine comparative turfgrass quality of drought-resistant cultivars of four warm-season lawn species in the south–central United States under irrigation frequency regimes of 0, 1, 2, 4, and 8× monthly. Turfgrasses used in the study were based on previously reported drought resistance and included ‘Riley’s Super Sport’ (Celebration®) bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.], ‘Palisades’ zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud.), ‘Floratam’ st. augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze], and ‘SeaStar’ seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz). During each growing season, slightly reduced irrigation volumes and bypassed events resulted from the 8× monthly treatment (34.95 cm, 38.13 cm, and 27.33 cm) compared with the 4× monthly treatment (35.36 cm, 40.84 cm, and 28.70 cm) in years 1, 2, and 3, respectively. For the once weekly treatment, the average fraction of reference evapotranspiration (ETo) supplied by effective rainfall and irrigation during the summer months was 1.22, 0.67, and 0.83 in years 1, 2, and 3, respectively, and was generally adequate to support acceptable turfgrass quality of all warm-season turfgrasses evaluated. Under the less than weekly irrigation frequency, st. augustinegrass and seashore paspalum generally fell to below acceptable quality levels because the average fraction of ETo supplied by effective rainfall and irrigation during the summer months of years 2 and 3 was 0.51, 0.39, and 0.26 for the 2× monthly, 1× monthly, and unirrigated treatments, respectively. Bermudagrass generally outperformed all other species under the most restrictive irrigation frequencies and also did not differ statistically from zoysiagrass. These results show that as irrigation frequency is restricted to less than once per week, species selection becomes an important consideration.