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Labeling strategies are often discussed in the context of local food purchase. Substantial research has been undertaken to discern buyers’ preferences for different labeling strategies associated with a production practice or a geographic location. Some studies have also emphasized the substitution or complementarity effects that may occur across these different labels. Using a large choice experiment with 1820 respondents across six US southern states, this research evaluates buyers’ preferences for co-labeling strategies, focusing on the association of a production practice and certifications (USDA Organic and Certified Naturally Grown) alongside six different production locations, ranging from local to imported sources. We focus on pint baskets of cherry tomatoes, chosen due to their popularity among purchasers of fresh produce. Based on the results provided by a Bayesian Mixed Logit model, we derived the respondent-specific posterior distribution of the partworths associated with each production location and regressed each of those against demographic indicators. Our findings highlight that most buyers substitute between USDA Organic and Certified Naturally Grown (CNG), and a minority consistently opt for the same production practice option. In addition, we underscore that price, or an indication of origin predominantly guides nearly half of buyers’ choices. We find that the premium for CNG is slightly superior to the organic one. Last, older respondents and respondents with a higher degree of education value produce grown within their state over neighboring states and more distant origins.

Open Access
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Strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa) are being produced increasingly in indoor vertical farms, where the light quality of sole-source lighting is a primary factor that influences the outcomes of crop production. Far-red (FR) light (700–750 nm) has been shown to promote plant responses such as leaf expansion, biomass accumulation, and flowering in some long-day plant species. However, the impacts of including FR light in sole-source lighting on strawberries have not been fully understood. This study investigated the impacts of FR light on the growth and development of long-day strawberries ‘Albion’ and ‘Monterey’ in an indoor vertical farm. We hypothesized that the addition of FR light under a long photoperiod would promote leaf expansion, biomass accumulation, flowering, and fruit production in long-day strawberries. Bare-root strawberry plants were grown in a deep-water-culture hydroponic system at an air temperature of 22 °C and an 18-hour photoperiod using 90 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 of blue (peak = 455 nm) + 250 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 of red (peak = 660 nm) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with or without adding 50 μmol⋅m–2⋅s–1 of FR (peak = 730 nm) LEDs. After 5 weeks of lighting treatments, additional FR light increased the leaf area and shoot dry mass of strawberry ‘Monterey’ by 74% and 73%, respectively, and the number of crowns per plant of strawberry ‘Albion’ by 33%. However, FR light did not influence flowering time in either cultivar. Adding FR light increased the number of fruit harvested per plant by 36%, the total fruit yield by 48%, and the total soluble solids of fruit by 12% in strawberry ‘Albion’, but not in ‘Monterey’. In both cultivars, FR light did not affect the individual fruit mass. Our results suggest that the addition of FR light in sole-source lighting can promote leaf expansion, biomass accumulation, fruit yield, and fruit quality in at least some long-day strawberry cultivars.

Open Access

Increased preharvest fruit drop rates and reduced fruit sizes are common symptoms associated with Huanglongbing (HLB) in sweet orange. Small fruit may be more likely to drop during preharvest fruit drop. The objective of the current study was to determine whether fruit size could be used as an indicator of the preharvest fruit drop likelihood. Nearly 1400 fruit were surveyed over the following three timepoints across two years: 11 Mar 2022, 15 Apr 2022, and 22 Mar 2023. Each fruit was evaluated to determine the equator and peduncle diameter, fruit detachment force (FDF), type of detachment (mechanically broken or abscission), and lopsidedness. The total soluble solids content was determined for a subset of fruit. The FDF was consistently lower in abscising fruit than in mechanically broken fruit, suggesting that the physiological process of abscission had begun in these fruit and that they were more likely to drop. The fruit diameter was significantly smaller in abscising fruit than in mechanically broken fruit on 11 Mar 2022 and 22 Mar 2023, but not on 15 Apr 2022. Similarly, the fruit diameter and FDF were also significantly and positively correlated, but this relationship was weaker at time points late in the season (closer to harvest). These findings suggest that small fruit are indeed more likely to drop early in the preharvest period. The abscising fruit had total soluble solids contents similar to those of the mechanically broken fruit. Therefore, we hypothesized that the smaller fruit ceased growing and are able to respond to abscission signals earlier than the larger fruit. Therefore, any strategies to mitigate fruit drop, such as the use of plant growth regulators, should be applied early in the season when the fruit are still actively growing. When growth ceases, the fruit are vulnerable to drop.

Open Access

Vegetable grafting can mitigate the negative effects of drought on crop production. Dry farming, which is the production of crops without irrigation during a dry growing season, can result in lower yields, smaller fruit, and a higher incidence of blossom-end rot (BER), which is a physiological disorder associated with drought stress. To determine the effects of grafting on yield and fruit quality of dry-farmed tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), three years of trials were conducted using different scion–rootstock combinations and ungrafted controls. In 2020, grafting onto rootstocks ‘DRO141TX’ and ‘Fortamino’ resulted in greater total yield and average fruit weight and a lower BER incidence for dry-farmed tomato than grafting onto the rootstock ‘Shincheonggang’ or using ungrafted plants. In 2021, grafting onto the rootstock ‘DRO141TX’ again increased yields and average fruit weight and decreased BER incidence when compared with ungrafted plants (‘Fortamino’ was not tested). Interactions were detected between different scion–rootstock combinations in terms of the degree of reduction of necrotic BER (BER resulting in a large, sunken, grey or black spot, making the fruit unmarketable) when grafted onto ‘DRO141TX’, with the scion ‘Azoychka’ having a 69% reduction in necrotic BER and the scion ‘Astrakhanskie’ having a 93% reduction in necrotic BER. In 2022, an interaction was detected between the rootstocks and scions in terms of their effect on large fruit (>0.33 lb) yield, with ‘BHN 871’ grafted onto ‘Fortamino’ producing the highest yields of large fruit and ‘Big Beef’ grafted onto ‘Fortamino’ producing the lowest yields. Overall, grafting onto the rootstocks ‘DRO141TX’ or ‘Fortamino’ improved diverse dry-farmed tomato outcomes in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, USA.

Open Access

Although irrigation scheduling has been studied for diverse vegetable crops, much less attention has been given to irrigation scheduling for the seed crops on which these production systems rely. In spinach, for which irrigation scheduling needs are likely to vary greatly between seed and leaf production, this leaves seed producers without adequate resources to make irrigation scheduling decisions. Our research sought to fill this gap by evaluating two alternative irrigation scheduling strategies (a publicly available decision-support tool and soil moisture sensors) and four soil moisture thresholds for irrigation for their impacts on vegetative growth, marketable seed yield, seed quality, and the severity of Stemphylium leaf spot (caused by Stemphylium vesicarium and Stemphylium beticola), a common foliar disease of spinach, under sprinkler irrigation. We found that in all 3 years of the study, earlier and more frequent irrigation increased vegetative growth. However, marketable seed yield only increased relative to the control treatment based on farmers’ standard irrigation practices in 1 of the 3 years—a year with an abnormally late planting date. This indicates that vegetative growth is more responsive than seed yield to earlier and more frequent irrigation, and that increases in vegetative growth do not translate directly to increased marketable seed yield. Contrary to the expected increase in Stemphylium leaf spot severity with increasing irrigation, the severity decreased in both years it was measured, likely as a result of the small stature of the spinach seed parent lines used in our study and opportunistic pathogenicity on moisture-stressed plants. These results provide a useful foundation from which spinach seed producers can make irrigation management decisions for their crops that underpin a valuable global industry.

Open Access

Inadequate lateral branch development can lead to decreased apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) orchard productivity and profitability in modern high-density orchard systems. Although plant growth regulator applications are used to increase lateral branching on leaders of young apple trees, inconsistent responses have been observed in the southeastern United States. In North Carolina and Washington, three experiments were conducted to identify effective leader management strategies to increase lateral branching. Effects and interactions of leader bagging, 6-benzyladenine (6-BA), and 6-BA + gibberellic acid (GA4+7) on lateral branch development of 1-year-old leaders were evaluated. Across all experiments, leader bagging was an influential factor. When compared with unbagged trees, leader bagging increased lateral branch number (20% to 48%), number of feathers (74% to 125%), average branch length (28% to 34%), and total linear bearing surface (428%) of the treated section of the leader. Blossom cluster density and final fruit set were increased in bagged trees, 65% and 36%, respectively. At the rates and timings tested, 6-BA and 6-BA + GA4+7 were generally ineffective in stimulating lateral branching and interactions among the factors evaluated were not influential. Leader bagging was an effective lateral branch induction strategy, although the mechanism of action is poorly understood. Future research to characterize the bagged environment and/or physiological responses to bagging may aid in the development of future environmentally sustainable technologies to stimulate lateral branching of apple trees.

Open Access

In several regions of the United States, waste and “tag” wool are readily available, inexpensive, and considered low-quality because of weed seed contamination and stains from defecation. Because of an overabundance of waste and tag wool, some are landfilled. Previous research has indicated that wool or hair incorporated in potted plants can improve the water-holding capacity of the soil and act as a slow-release fertilizer. Furthermore, compost trials have demonstrated that wool produces a high-quality compost product. This study aimed to evaluate the market potential of wool-based compost to determine its commercial viability. To address this, we conducted in-depth interviews with lead user gardeners (n = 10) who used 1 yard of wool-based compost in their gardens over the course of 10 weeks and distributed a quantitative survey instrument to both lead users and general gardeners recruited from garden centers, nurseries, and horticulture classes (n = 256). Lead users responded positively to the wool-based compost and reported they would be willing to pay $6 to $7 per ft3. General gardeners who were less familiar with the product reported they were willing to pay at least a similar amount as that for typical market composts, but they suggested that they would pay more if characteristics such as “increases drought tolerance” were used in advertising. Our analysis indicated that the target audience for the wool-based compost is male gardeners older than 25 years who are concerned about the environment.

Open Access
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The American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) has since its inception published annual serial monographs or journals to achieve its mission of communicating horticultural science. To recognize the accomplishments of the membership, a series of professional awards was created. After the individual awards, the ASHS created publication awards. This paper, and the papers that follow, document the publication awards of the ASHS. The papers were based on presentations at the 2023 annual conference and serve as additional recognition of the contributions of member authors and as a historical record of achievements of the ASHS.

Open Access