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Interest in home food preservation has grown, especially among those who grow their own produce. Extension Master Gardeners (EMGs) are trained to teach consumers how to produce fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but little is known about how often they are asked questions about how to preserve them or their ability to answer such questions. This study used an online survey to ask EMGs across Texas about their food preservation practices and the extent to which they are asked questions about home food preservation. We also assessed their perceived confidence in answering those questions using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = not confident at all; 5 = very confident). Most (91%) of the 1875 EMGs who responded reported preserving food using one or more methods. More than half (n = 1034; 55%) had been asked questions about home food preservation, but their level of confidence in answering those questions ranged from a high of 3.1 ± 1.3 (mean ± SD) for freezing fruits and vegetables to a low of 1.6 ± 1.1 for pressure canning low-acid foods. Interest in learning more about home food preservation was high, especially regarding safe practices and recipes, drying herbs, freezing fruits and vegetables, and canning salsa and tomato products. The results suggest that EMG training programs could benefit from including basic information about home food preservation, especially sources of reliable information and recipes.

Open Access

Citizen science is a participatory research method that enlists community members as scientists to collect data at a scale that would not be possible for researchers on their own and in research contexts that are difficult for researchers to reach. Although the contribution of citizen science to scientific data collection is well-known, a new area of research investigates the impact that citizen science programs have on the citizen scientists. Gardening can support healthy dietary patterns, food access, and food system resilience in urban communities. Leveraging home gardening can be a good way for cooperative extension and community groups to support the health and wellbeing of their community members. However, to reap the health and community benefits of gardening, individuals need to adopt the behavior of gardening. In this study, researchers from University of Florida conducted a home gardening citizen science program between Mar 2022 and Jul 2022 for the purpose of assessing whether participating in a citizen science home gardening program increases the likelihood of participants’ future home gardening. Researchers used a matched pretest and posttest evaluation design to assess whether participation in this program affected the citizen scientists’ (n = 112) beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of home gardening. Citizen science program participants improved their attitudes and beliefs about home gardening but had limited improvement in their self-efficacy about home gardening after participation in the program. A 1-year follow-up survey found that program participants had adopted new gardening behaviors and reported benefits of participating in the program beyond gardening. These results highlight the value of citizen science to facilitate intentions to home garden and show the importance of information and program support to ensure the success of program participants.

Open Access

New Mexico green pod-type chile (Capsicum annuum) has significant importance as a vegetable crop. The cultivation and trade of New Mexico pod-type green chile are culturally significant within New Mexico (USA) and contribute to the state’s economy by providing income and employment to farmers and through supporting industries. However, because of the high cost and limited availability of labor, New Mexico pod-type green chile acreage has declined. Traditionally, New Mexico pod-type green chile is hand-harvested when the fruit are full-size but physiologically immature. To preserve and expand the production of New Mexico pod-type green chile, the adoption of mechanical harvest technologies is essential. In 2015 and 2016, experiments were conducted at New Mexico State University’s Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center (Los Lunas, NM, USA) to examine the effects of increased planting density on New Mexico pod-type green chile fruit size, plant architecture, and mechanical harvest efficiency. Two commercial New Mexico pod-type green chile cultivars, NuMex Joe E. Parker and AZ-1904, were direct-seeded on 17 Apr 2015 and 14 Apr 2016. On 11 Jun 2015 and 14 Jun 2016, three plant density treatments were implemented at 39,000 (high), 23,000 (medium), and 15,000 (standard) plants/acre. Before harvest, plant measurements, including height, width, height to first bifurcation, stem diameter, and number of lateral basal branches, were obtained. Plots were mechanically harvested using an inclined double helix harvester, and harvested material was sorted into marketable green fruit, machine-broken fruit, and nonpod plant material. Fruit measurements, including fruit weight, width, length, pericarp thickness, and number of locules, were obtained. Both cultivars exhibited a 9% increase in height to bifurcation accompanied by fewer basal branches grown at high density. Plant density did not significantly affect the fruit length, width, number of locules, and pericarp thickness. Plants grown at high density had an increased percentage of marketable fruit, with ‘NuMex Joe E. Parker’ having a higher percentage of marketable green fruit compared to ‘AZ-1904’. The results demonstrated that an increase in planting density in production fields to 39,000 plants/acre coupled with cultivar selection enhanced efficiency in a mechanical harvest system.

Open Access

Plants native to the United States, defined as those being present before European settlement, have aesthetic and environmental benefits. In 2018, only 10% of plant sales were native plants, a plant category that tends to be underrepresented in many residential and commercial landscapes. Although earlier research indicated that consumers find native plants less aesthetically appealing relative to introduced species, more recent research reported a growing demand for native plants. Thus, a better understanding of consumer perceptions would facilitate their marketing. We used an online survey of 1824 participants representing five geographic regions (West, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Northwest) to classify adopters based on their purchase of native plants. A double-hurdle model was used to estimate factors influencing purchasing native plants among US homeowners, and the factors influencing the amount spent on native plants in 2021. Demographically, metropolitan, college-educated, and younger participants were more likely to be native plant adopters; they also spent 80% more on plants compared with nonnative plant adopters. More native plant adopters agreed that native plants were better for the environment than exotic plants (68%), are readily available in their area (67%), and are better adapted to difficult sites (75%). Marketing efforts should capitalize on the environmental benefits to stimulate purchases.

Open Access

Young almond (Prunus amygdalus) orchards replanted where old orchards of stone fruits (Prunus sp.) have been removed are subject to physical, chemical, and biotic stressors. Among biotic challenges, for example, is almond/stone fruit replant disease (ARD; formally known as Prunus replant disease), which specifically suppresses the growth and yields of successive almond and other stone fruit plantings and is caused, in part, by a soil microbial complex. During four orchard trials representing different almond replant practices and scenarios in the San Joaquin Valley in California, we examined the impacts of phosphorus (P) fertilization on the growth of replanted almond. During all trials, P was applied to tree root zones just after replanting, and the impact was assessed according to trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) growth for 2 years. Expt. 1 was performed where a previous almond orchard was cleared using whole orchard recycling (i.e., the old orchard was “chipped” and then turned into the soil). The land was replanted without preplant soil fumigation. We tested separate fertilizer treatments based on various P, nitrogen, micronutrient, and “complete” formulations. Expt. 2 was also performed where an old almond orchard was recycled, but the soil was preplant-fumigated before replanting. Here, we tested only P fertilization. Expts. 3 and 4 were conducted where an old peach (Prunus persica) orchard was removed. Here, P and nitrogen fertilizer treatments were tested among additional factors, including preplant soil fumigation (Expts. 3, 4) and whole orchard recycling chips (Expt. 4). During all four trials, P fertilization (P at 2.2 to 2.6 oz/tree within a few weeks after planting) significantly increased TCSA growth. The growth benefit was nuanced, however, by almond cultivar, date of replanting, rootstock, and other site-specific factors. Although P fertilization did not match the benefit of preplant soil fumigation for the management of ARD, our data indicated that P fertilization can improve the growth of young almond orchards in diverse replant settings with or without preplant soil fumigation and should be considered by California almond producers as a general best management practice.

Open Access

Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy can be applied to nondestructively assess soluble solids concentration (SSC) of ripening, physiologically mature ‘Geneva 3’ kiwiberries (Actinidia arguta). Spectrographic signatures were captured using a handheld NIR produce quality meter to build predictive models of internal fruit quality for ‘Geneva 3’ kiwiberries that had been held under cold storage (CS) conditions (0 to 1 °C, >90% relative humidity) as well as those not subjected to CS. The CS model, constructed using scans of 133 berries following 4 to 6 weeks in CS, predicts SSC using NIR wavelengths in the range of 729 to 975 nm. A total of 507 berries fresh from the vine were used to construct a predictive model for SSC of non-CS fruit using the same wavelength range. In each case, model predictive performance was investigated using split-half cross-validation, resulting in mean absolute error (MAE) values of 1.2% and 0.8% SSC for the CS and non-CS model, respectively. Each full model was then used to predict SSC of kiwiberries subjected to the alternative CS condition. The non-CS model maintained a low MAE (1.6% SSC) when applied to CS fruit, but the MAE of the CS model applied to non-CS fruit rose considerably (4.5% SSC). The performance of a combined model was tested against both CS and non-CS models, and a benefit to using tailored, CS-specific models was found, particularly in light of cross-seasonal results. As it has proven in many crops, NIR spectroscopy appears to be a promising tool for nondestructively assessing SSC in ‘Geneva 3’ kiwiberry fruit, with accuracy being enhanced by training models specific to postharvest regimes and/or defined ranges of SSC.

Open Access

Overwinter mustard cover crops incorporated into soil may suppress early-season weeds in chile pepper (Capsicum annuum). However, the potential for mustard cover crops to harbor beet leafhoppers (Circulifer tenellus) is a concern because beet leafhoppers transmit beet curly top virus to chile pepper. The objectives of this study were to determine the amounts of a biopesticidal compound (sinigrin) added to soil from ‘Caliente Rojo’ brown mustard (Brassica juncea) cover crops ended on three different days before beet leafhopper flights during spring and to determine the effects of the cover crop termination date on weed densities and hand-hoeing times for chile pepper. To address these objectives, a field study was conducted in southern New Mexico. In 2019–20, the cover crop was ended and incorporated into soil 45, 31, and 17 days before beet leafhopper flights. In 2020–21, cover crop termination occurred 36, 22, and 8 days before beet leafhopper flights. Treatments also included a no cover crop control. Cover crop biomass and sinigrin concentrations were determined at each termination. Chile pepper was seeded 28 days after the third termination date. Weed densities and hand-hoeing times were determined 28 and 56 days after chile pepper seeding. In 2019–20, the third termination (17 days before beet leafhopper flights) yielded the maximum cover crop biomass (820 g⋅m−2) and greatest sinigrin addition to soil (274 mmol⋅m−2). However, only the second termination (31 days before beet leafhopper flights) suppressed weeds in chile pepper. In 2020–21, the third termination (8 days before beet leafhopper flights) yielded the maximum cover crop biomass (591 g⋅m−2) and greatest sinigrin addition to soil (213 mmol⋅m−2), and it was the only treatment that suppressed weeds. No cover crop treatment reduced hand-hoeing times. These results indicate that overwinter mustard cover crops can be ended to evade beet leafhopper flights and suppress weeds in chile pepper.

Open Access

Consumers have become increasingly concerned about the environmental standards of industries from which they purchase products. Because consumers’ environmental concerns are increasingly becoming part of their purchasing decisions, industries have begun to restructure their business model to one that is more environmentally sustainable. Studies have indicated consumers’ actions and motivations for purchasing sustainable products vary based on consumer demographics. The main purpose of this study was to compare the differences in consumers’ perceptions and willingness to pay as they relate to retail floral providers’ sustainable and environmentally sound practices based on demographic traits. A total of 2172 people responded to an online survey. The sample used in this study was a random selection of individuals 18 years of age or older living in the United States. Survey responses were collected from 21 Dec 2022 to 27 Jan 2023. Data were analyzed using analyses of variance and post hoc tests as well as descriptive and frequency statistics. Results indicated there was a difference in the way respondents answered the survey questions based on demographics. Respondents 34 years of age or younger with college experience indicated the most willingness to make purchases and pay premiums from floral providers that incorporate sustainable attributes into their business model. Males indicated a stronger willingness to shop at a floral provider based on several of the environmental statements when compared with other genders. The results provide evidence of the value of the integration of sustainability practices into the business model of floral providers to make it more competitive.

Open Access