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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

According to the 2021 Extension Master Gardener (EMG) National Summary, the EMG Volunteer Program had an estimated 84,700 volunteers throughout the United States. These volunteers helped communities garden and grow food, provided opportunities to engage in activities that improved physical and mental health, and worked on projects that addressed environmental issues. In total, these programs contributed 3.1 million hours of education to local communities and $88 million dollars in value to the public. However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for the program, with many states implementing reduced requirements and increased flexibility for volunteers. The workshop “Dynamic Volunteer Engagement and Impactful Educational Outreach Taking Us Into the Next 50 Years of the EMG Program” at the 2022 ASHS conference discussed how to engage EMG volunteers despite the limitations of limited in-person contact. The workshop featured three Extension educators and EMG coordinators who shared their experiences and strategies for engaging volunteers during the pandemic. Topics discussed included engaging volunteers in local food systems and community gardens, engaging students in horticulture at an earlier age, and digital volunteer opportunities. Overall, the workshop provided valuable insights and facilitated discussions on how to adapt and continue the EMG program during challenging times.

Open Access
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Penstemons are a diverse group of flowering plants valued for their ability to enhance the visual appearance of urban landscapes. Penstemon barbatus (Cav.) Roth ‘Novapenblu’ (rock candy blue® penstemon) and Penstemon strictus Benth ‘Rocky Mountain’ (rocky mountain beardtongue) are widely used in landscapes, but their tolerance to soil salinity remains poorly understood. This study aimed to investigate the effects of salinity levels at electrical conductivities (ECs) of 1.0 (nutrient solution), 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, and 10.0 dS⋅m−1 on two penstemons (P. barbatus and P. strictus). Penstemons were irrigated with nutrient or saline solution for 8 weeks and various growth and physiological data were recorded before harvest. Salinity stress degraded the visual quality of penstemon species and led to a reduction in the growth rate and biomass production. Leaf burn and necrosis were observed in penstemons because of salinity stress. The visual score of P. barbatus and P. strictus decreased with increasing EC levels in the saline solution. When irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 7.5 dS⋅m−1, Penstemon barbatus and P. strictus had severe-to-moderate foliar salt damage with average visual scores of 1.7 and 2.5, respectively (0 = dead plant; 5 = excellent plant without any foliar damage). The two penstemon species had severe foliar salt damage or were dead when irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS⋅m−1. There were 87% and 92% decreases in the leaf area of P. barbatus and P. strictus, respectively, when irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS⋅m−1 compared with those in the control. Although not statistically significant, there were 7% to 18% decreases in shoot dry weight of P. barbatus when irrigated with saline solutions at ECs of 2.5 to 10.0 dS⋅m−1 compared with control. However, P. strictus displayed declines of 13% to 31% in shoot dry weight as the salinity levels of the irrigation solution increased. As the salinity levels increased, the net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (gs ), and transpiration (E) rates decreased. Furthermore, sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) contents of P. barbatus and P. strictus increased with the increase in salinity levels of the treatment solution. Consequently, P. barbatus and P. strictus demonstrated sensitivity to salinity stress at ECs of 7.5 and 10.0 dS⋅m−1. This study provides important insights for their effective utilization in landscaping practices within saline-prone areas.

Open Access

Invasive species can generate negative impacts environmentally, socially, and economically. The interplay between human and natural systems renders management a complex problem that must be addressed by decision-makers. Perceptions of invasive species issues varies depending on an individual’s access to information. Although invasive species and their management are often discussed in formal higher education, not all members of the population have access to a formal educational setting. Informal educational experiences may be a mechanism to reach out to community members in a more accessible and perhaps engaging way than traditional higher education classroom experiences. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of an informal, place-based educational program on perceptions and knowledge of invasive species and their management within the community. Place-based education is a pedagogy connection local places with intimate knowledge of the systems, processes, and outcomes that give it meaning to human and non-human species. First, we organized and administered short walks in two central Texas, USA, parks with conversational lessons and hands-on learning experiences. Second, we administered a follow-up retrospective-reflective survey to measure participants’ knowledge and perceptions of invasive species management and postwalk/lesson changes in them. We also compared between the treatment group of participants versus a control group within the community who did not participate in the informal lessons. Fifty-two people participated in both the educational program walks and testing over the course of 1 year, and 63 people were included in the follow-up retrospective-reflective survey control group. Results indicate a statistically significant positive change in knowledge and perception categories within the treatment group. Post hoc results indicate a positive change in knowledge and perceptions in our sample as a function of treatment group members’ age and income, respectively. The methodology used in this study was simple and inexpensive. Hence, our approach could be easily replicated in other areas to educate community members.

Open Access

Water temperature can affect plant growth and quality in hydroponic production. Lettuce ‘Antonet’, ‘Waldman’s Dark Green’, ‘Parris Island’, ‘Jericho’, and ‘Rex’ were grown using the nutrient film technique with chilled (water temperature set at 21.1 °C) or ambient water. Data were collected on plant growth, foliar nutrient content, and vitamin A content. ‘Jericho’ had the greatest shoot fresh weight but was only significantly different from ‘Antonet’, which had the lowest shoot fresh weight but the greatest vitamin A content. SPAD was greatest in ‘Paris Island’ and was significantly greater in chilled water over ambient for ‘Antonet’. Plants grown in ambient water had greater number of leaves and root dry weight, whereas SPAD was greatest with chilled water. Greater nutrient values were observed in ‘Rex’, ‘Jericho’, and ‘Waldman’s Dark Green’ in chilled water, whereas no nutrient differences were observed in ‘Antonet’ and ‘Parris Island’.

Open Access

The cut flower industry needs postharvest techniques that allow for extended storage of fresh cut flowers to meet consumer demands. We compared the use of a sub-zero storage temperature (−0.6 °C) to maintain viable flowers with improved or comparable vase life to flowers stored at the industry standard (4 °C). The vase life of 17 commercially important cut flower species, alstroemeria (Alstroemeria), anemone (Anemone coronaria), campanula (Campanula medium), carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus), chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum), delphinium (Delphinium elatum), freesia (Freesia), gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii), gypsophila (Gypsophila paniculata), larkspur (Consolida), lily (Lilium), lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus), rose (Rosa hybrida), stock (Matthiola incana), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), and tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa), when stored dry at −0.6 °C for durations of 4, 8, and 12 weeks was comparable to or longer than that when stored at 4 °C. Tuberose stems were not viable after holding for any storage duration or temperature. Experiment 2 compared the use of a prestorage pulsing treatment of water, hydrating solution, or holding solution containing carbohydrates for 8 hours before extended storage for carnation, chrysanthemum, delphinium, lily, and rose stems. Stems of carnation benefitted from pulsing with a hydrating solution and maintained vase life similar to that of nonstored control stems when stored for 4 weeks at −0.6 °C. Conversely, rose stems only maintained vase life similar to that of nonstored control stems when held at 4 °C for all pulsing solutions. Lily and chrysanthemum stems had a decline in vase life with all pulsing solutions and only remained viable after 8 weeks of storage when held at −0.6 °C. Additionally, stored chrysanthemum and lily stems had a longer vase life when stored at −0.6 °C than that when held at 4 °C after 4 and 8 weeks of storage, respectively, with all pulsing solutions. Delphinium stems were not viable after any storage duration. Experiment 3 further evaluated carnation, lily, and rose stems with and without a prestorage acclimation period at 4 °C for either 24 hours or 1 week before extended storage of 4, 6, or 8 weeks. Holding stems at 4 °C for 1 week before extended storage reduced the vase life of all species. Rose stems remained viable after 8 weeks of extended storage when held at −0.6 °C, but only when no prestorage hold was used. Lily and rose stems were not viable beyond 4-week storage durations when held at 4 °C, but they remained viable with no prestorage holding period after 8 weeks at −0.6 °C. Carnation stems maintained a longer vase life irrespective of a prestorage holding period when stored at −0.6 °C. Through this analysis, we showed that many species of cut flowers may be held at a sub-zero temperature with vase life better than or comparable to that with the industry standard of 4 °C.

Open Access

Imazapic is an acetolactate synthase-inhibiting herbicide labeled for weed control in pastures, rangeland, and noncrop areas. Field research was conducted in Knoxville, TN, USA, during 2020 and 2021 to evaluate the tolerance of four hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × Cynodon transvaalensis Burtt Davy) cultivars to applications of imazapic for growth suppression. Separate experiments were conducted on ‘TifTuf’, ‘Tifway’, ‘Tahoma 31’, and ‘Latitude 36’ hybrid bermudagrass. Experiments included plots (1.5 m2) arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications and were repeated. Treatments were applied 14 Aug 2020 and 6 Aug 2021, and were mixed with methylated seed oil. Imazapic rates were 0, 35, 52.5, 70, or 105 g⋅ha–1. Cultivar tolerance was assessed via visual ratings of turfgrass injury relative to untreated check plots. Normalized differential vegetation index data were collected on each date turfgrass injury was evaluated. Growth suppression was quantified via reductions in dry clipping weight after mowing. Hybrid bermudagrass injury increased with imazapic rate for all cultivars, and peak injury (> 30%) following all imazapic treatments occurred within 14 days. At the lowest imazapic rate (35 g⋅ha–1), injury was transient, with all hybrid bermudagrass cultivars fully recovered by 28 days. All rates of imazapic reduced hybrid bermudagrass dry clipping weight for 21 days for all cultivars. Further research is warranted to explore lower application rates than those tested in our study, in addition to determining tolerance and growth suppression of other turfgrass species commonly managed on golf courses.

Open Access

Warmer temperatures during crop production are not desirable for a cool-season crop such as lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.). Lettuce is among the top 10 most consumed vegetables in the United States. Production of this vegetable is concentrated mostly in temperate areas of California, and during the wintertime in Arizona and Florida as a result of their mild climatic conditions. Heat-tolerant cultivars are needed for the leafy vegetable industry to continue thriving. However, there is very little information on heat-tolerant germplasms of lettuce that can be used as a source to improve heat tolerance in lettuce. This is particularly important in romaine and butterhead lettuce, which are two morphological types with increasing demand in the market. Therefore, research was conducted to identify germplasm that performs acceptably in warmer regions in the western United States. This investigation also aimed to understand the reaction of varieties to different environments, which could help plant breeders select and evaluate lettuce plants during the breeding process. Twenty-three and 25 accessions of romaine and butterhead lettuce, respectively, were planted in five trials near Holtville, CA, USA: Five Points, CA, USA, under warmer temperatures and Salinas, CA, USA, under cooler temperatures. Romaine genotypes Bambi, Blonde Lente a Monter, Medallion MT, and Red Eye Cos; and butterhead genotypes Butter King and Margarita had no bolting, an acceptable head weight, short cores, and acceptable head height. Head weight and related traits (including core length, height, width, etc.) and heat-related disorders were significantly different across multiple experiments, indicating genetic variation. The major component of the phenotypic variation in these experiments was a result of environmental factors. Therefore, plant breeders may still need to evaluate progeny in multiple trials and multiple locations to select heat-tolerant romaine and butterhead lettuce effectively.

Open Access

Humic substances are components of soil organic matter that influence soil structure and fertility. Humic and fulvic acids can be extracted from soil and other organic sources, and are used as biostimulants to promote plant growth and increase nutrient availability and uptake. The goal of this study was to determine whether selected humic and fulvic acid–based commercial products would promote growth and flowering of petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) ‘Picobella Blue’ grown in soilless media with low or optimal fertilizer rates. Plants were grown in 11.4-cm pots filled with peat-based media [80:20 peat:perlite (v/v); pH 5.4]. Three biostimulant products were evaluated at different rates and application frequencies: Huma Pro, a liquid humic acid biostimulant; Fulvi Pro, a liquid fulvic acid biostimulant; and Micromate, a powder containing both humic and fulvic acids. In Expt. 1, Huma Pro and Fulvi Pro were drenched weekly onto the growing media at a rate of 5, 10, or 20 mL⋅L–1; Micromate was drenched weekly at a rate of 5, 10, 20, or 40 g⋅L–1. Plants were fertilized with either 50 mg⋅L–1 nitrogen (N) (low fertility) or 100 mg⋅L–1 N (optimal fertility) from Jack’s Professional 20N–1.3P–15.7K Petunia FeED each irrigation. Control plants received fertilizer but no biostimulant treatments. In Expt. 2, biostimulant treatments were drenched once at transplant, biweekly, or weekly at a rate of 1.25, 2.5, 5, or 10 mL⋅L–1 for Huma Pro and Fulvi Pro; and at 5, 10, 20, or 40 g⋅L–1 for Micromate. All plants received constant liquid feed at the lower fertilizer rate of 50 mg⋅L–1 N. In Expt. 1, plants fertilized with 100 mg⋅L–1 N and treated with 20 g⋅L–1 Micromate had the best performance. The average shoot dry weight was 32% greater than that of the control plants. Micromate (20 g⋅L–1)-treated plants had an average of five more flowers per plant, and they flowered 4 days earlier than untreated control plants. In Expt. 2, plants treated with 40 g⋅L–1 of Micromate weekly had the greatest shoot dry weight compared with the other treatments. Weekly Micromate treatments (40 g⋅L–1) resulted in plants with an average of 13 more flowers per plant, which flowered 7 days earlier than control plants. Plants treated with Fulvi Pro and Huma Pro at 20 mL⋅L–1 had a significantly greater concentration of potassium in shoot tissue, whereas Micromate treatments at 20 and 40 g⋅L–1 resulted in a greater concentration of phosphorous in the shoots. The humic and fulvic acids in Micromate improved petunia crop quality by promoting vegetative growth, increasing flower numbers, and reducing the time to flower.

Open Access