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With an increase in social awareness of environmental degradation and the need to conserve resources while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, consumers have become increasingly concerned about the environmental standards of the industries from which they purchase products. This has motivated industries to restructure their business model to one that is more environmentally sustainable. Research of consumers’ floral purchasing habits based on geographic regions found that these habits varied depending on the region where they lived. The main purpose of this study was to investigate US consumers’ perceptions and willingness to pay as they relate to retail floral providers’ environmentally sustainable practices based on the geographical region where the consumer lives within the United States. The results indicated differences in the way respondents answered questions based on the geographical region where they live. However, regardless of the US region where the respondents live, from the list of sustainable attributes covered in this study, respondents indicated the use of locally sourced flowers and composting of floral waste as the two sustainable attributes with the most perceived value to consumers. The findings of this study indicate that floral providers that have incorporated any type of sustainable attribute into their businesses should be promoting this to the public. Floral providers located in the West and Northeast regions of the United States should especially consider emphasizing sustainable attributes within their business because consumers in these regions indicated that they were most willing to pay premiums for sustainable practices. Additionally, floral providers in the West should consider sourcing and promoting the use of fair-trade materials to their customers.

Open Access

Many species of herbaceous perennials now have numerous cultivars, with growth habits and flower colors unique to each cultivar. Vegetative propagation is required so that resulting plants are genetically identical to the parent plant. Although many cultivars are selected for precocious and vigorous flowering, it is often difficult to collect adequate vegetative cuttings from such cultivars for commercial production because juvenile (vegetative) growth is preferred for high-quality cuttings. Cuttings that are reproductive (with flower buds or flowers) can have reduced or delayed rooting and increased occurrences of fungal pathogens (especially Botrytis species), resulting in lack of crop uniformity. We sought to answer the question, can growing stock plants of herbaceous perennials under defined photoperiods extend the length of the vegetative period and enhance the rooting of cuttings harvested from these stock plants? In this study, stock plants of ‘P009S’ twinspur (Diascia integerrima), ‘Furman's Red’ sage (Salvia greggii), and ‘Wild Thing’ sage (Salvia greggii) were grown under ambient, 12-hour light, 10-hour light, and 8-hour light to determine if a particular photoperiod could be used to suppress reproductive growth by promoting vegetative growth, thereby enhancing cutting rooting success. Effects of photoperiod treatments varied among the plant cultivars studied. Plants grown under 8-hour photoperiod had longer duration of vegetative growth, smaller growth rates, and lower dry weights when compared with plants grown under 12-hour or 10-hour photoperiod. Plants grown under 12-hour photoperiod had shorter duration of vegetative growth, larger growth rates, and higher dry weights when compared with plants grown under 10-hour and 8-hour photoperiods. The probability of rooting of cuttings harvested from stock plants of ‘P009S’ twinspur, ‘Furman’s Red’ sage, and ‘Wild Thing’ sage grown under 12-hour and 10-hour photoperiods was greater when compared with cuttings harvested from stock plants grown under 8 h photoperiod.

Open Access

This study investigated the activity of upper- and lower-extremity muscles for 15 agricultural tasks of agro-healing. For the development of an agro-healing program using farm resource types, 15 selected agro-healing activities (namely, digging, raking, fertilizing, planting transplants, tying plants to stakes, watering, harvesting, washing, cutting, cooking, collecting natural objects, decorating natural objects, interacting with dogs, walking dogs, and feeding fish) were extracted and performed in a total of 21 adults (average age: 42.29 ± 14.76 years) at D Care Farm in Cheongju, Korea, from June to July 2022. Before these activities, informed consent was obtained from participants and muscle activity of the upper and lower extremities was measured. Muscle activation during activity performance was measured using electromyography (EMG), and the rating of perceived exertion for each activity was investigated. Bipolar surface EMG electrodes were attached at 16 locations on the left and right upper-extremity muscles (anterior deltoid, biceps brachialis, brachioradialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris) and lower-extremity muscles (vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, biceps femoris, and gastrocnemius). The results indicated that the activity of the lower-extremity muscles was higher than that of the upper-extremity muscles during 15 agricultural activities. During plant-mediated activity and animal-assisted activities, the rate of right muscle use was higher than that of left muscle use among the upper-extremity muscles, whereas the rate of right and left muscle use showed a similar tendency among the lower-extremity muscles. During plant-mediated activities, agricultural activities involving the use of heavy tools highly activated the right forearm muscle (flexor carpi ulnaris), whereas holding and interacting with animals highly activated the left forearm muscles (biceps brachialis, brachioradialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris). It is expected that the EMG data obtained in this study can be used as basic biomechanical data when designing an agro-healing program to improve physical function.

Open Access

Bacterial wilt of cucurbits, caused by Erwinia tracheiphila, is spread by spotted (Diabrotica undeimpunctata howardi) and striped (Acalymma vittatum) cucumber beetles and results in major losses for US cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae spp.) growers. Organic growers of muskmelon (Cucumis melo) lack reliable control measures against bacterial wilt. During previous field trials in Iowa, USA, a system called mesotunnels, which are 3.5-ft-tall barriers covered with a nylon mesh insect netting, resulted in a higher marketable yield of organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon than low tunnels or noncovered plots. However, satisfactory pollination and weed control are challenging in mesotunnels because the netting covers the crop for most or all of the growing season, and economic feasibility of these systems has not been determined. Consequently, two field trials conducted in Iowa from 2020 to 2022 evaluated strategies to ensure pollination under mesotunnels in commercial-scale plots, assess effectiveness of teff (Eragrostis tef) as a living mulch for weed control in mesotunnel systems, and compare the profitability of the treatment options for organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon. The treatments used during the pollination trial were as follows: full season, in which mesotunnels remained sealed all season and bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) were added at the start of bloom for pollination; open ends, wherein both ends of the tunnels were opened at the start of bloom then reclosed 2 weeks later; and on-off-on, in which nets were removed at the start of bloom and then reinstalled 2 weeks later. The full-season treatment had significantly higher marketable yield than the other treatments in two of three trial years. Plants with the full season and open ends treatments had a bacterial wilt incidence <2.5% across all three years and similar numbers of cucumber beetles, whereas plants with the on-off-on treatment had an average bacterial wilt incidence of 11.0% and significantly more cucumber beetles. The open ends treatment had fewer bee visits to ‘Athena’ muskmelon flowers than the other treatments. In the 2-year (2021–22) weed management trial, treatments applied to the furrow between plastic-mulched rows were as follows: landscape fabric; teff seeded at 4 lb/acre and mowed 3 weeks after seeding; teff seeded at 4 lb/acre and not mowed; a control with bare ground where weeds were mowed 3 weeks after transplanting; and a bare ground control with no mowing. The landscape fabric and mowed teff treatments had statistically similar marketable yield, and mowing appeared to minimize yield losses compared with nonmowed treatments. The landscape fabric had no weeds, followed by mowed teff, mowed bare ground, and nonmowed teff. Nonmowed bare ground had the highest weed biomass. The partial budget and cost-efficiency ratio analysis indicated that the full-season treatment was the most cost-efficient pollination option for mesotunnel systems. An economic analysis of the weed management strategies showed that using teff as a living mulch in the furrows between organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon rows, coupled with timely mowing to suppress its growth, can generate revenue comparable to that of landscape fabric. Our findings suggest that organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon growers in Iowa may gain the greatest yield and soil quality benefits when mesotunnels are kept closed for the entire season, bumble bees are used for pollination, and teff (mowed 3 weeks after seeding) is used to control weeds in the furrows. Further trials integrating these pollination and weed management strategies would help validate a comprehensive approach to organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon production under mesotunnels.

Open Access

Ornamental plant and weed response to oxyfluorfen + prodiamine herbicide was evaluated in Connecticut and Tennessee, USA, in 2017 and 2018. Preemergence application of oxyfluorfen + prodiamine was made at 0 lb/acre, 2 + 0.75 lb/acre, 4 + 1.5 lb/acre, and 8 + 3 lb/acre to container-grown ornamental plants on an outdoor gravel pad and weeds in greenhouse experiments. Ornamental plants were treated first within a week after transplanting and again 6 weeks after the first treatment. Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum), candlestick plant (Senna alata), and English ivy (Hedera helix) in Tennessee, USA; and ‘Blue Flag’ iris (Iris sp.), ‘Firecracker’ gladiolus (Gladiolus sp.), and ‘Green Carpet’ Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) in Connecticut, USA, were not injured with oxyfluorfen + prodiamine regardless of rate applied. Lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus africanus) in Tennessee, USA, and ‘Bowles’ periwinkle (Vinca minor) in Connecticut, USA, showed minor but commercially acceptable growth reduction with oxyfluorfen + prodiamine up to 4 + 1.5 lb/acre. Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum ×superbum) in Connecticut, USA, was the most sensitive ornamental plant. After the first application, average necrotic injury to Shasta daisy varied from 24% with 2 + 0.75 lb/acre to 31% with 8 + 3 lb/acre of oxyfluorfen + prodiamine. After the second application, necrotic injury was ≤ 5% with all oxyfluorfen + prodiamine rates tested and was commercially acceptable (≤ 20%). Oxyfluorfen + prodiamine reduced densities of creeping woodsorrel (Oxalis corniculata), hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), giant foxtail (Setaria faberi), and large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) ≥ 80% by 4 weeks after treatment. The fresh weed biomass 6 weeks after treatment indicated an 88% to 99% reduction compared with the untreated control.

Open Access

Stony hard (SH) peach (Prunus persica) fruits produce no ethylene and clingstone-type SH peaches have a crispy flesh texture; however, freestone-type SH peach fruits ripen to a soft, mealy state. During this study, we compared and analyzed changes in the microstructure, cell wall polysaccharides, and candidate cell wall-related genes of freestone-type SH ‘Zhongtao 14’ (‘CP14’), ‘Zhongtao White Jade 2’ (‘CPWJ2’), clingstone-type SH ‘Zhongtao 13’ (‘CP13’), and ‘Zhongtao 9’ (‘CP9’) during fruit ripening. The parenchyma cells of mealy freestone-type SH peaches became detached, were single, dried, and irregularly arranged, and remained intact in comparison with the nonmealy clingstone-type SH peaches. Methyl-esterified homogalacturonan was strongly immunolabeled in the cell wall of clingstone SH peaches; however, nonmethylated homogalacturonan was weakly immunolabeled in freestone SH peaches. A transcriptome analysis was performed to investigate the molecular mechanism of the mealiness process. A principal component analysis indicated that ‘CP14’ S4 III (mealy) could be distinguished from the samples of ‘CP13’ (S4 I, S4 II, S4 III) and ‘CP14’ (S4 I, S4 II). The highly coexpressed gene modules linked with firmness were found using a weighted gene coexpression network analysis; 189 upregulated genes and 817 downregulated genes were identified. Six upregulated cell wall-related genes (PpPG1, PpPG2, PpAGP1, PpAGP2, PpEXT1, and PpEXP1) and one downregulated cell wall-related gene (PpXET2) were involved in the mealiness process during freestone-type SH fruit ripening. These findings will improve our understanding of the relationship between clingstone, freestone, and stony hard fruits and lay the foundation for further exploration of the mechanisms underlying the softening of peach fruits.

Open Access

Boron (B) is often deficient in many fruit crops, including blueberry (Vaccinium sp.). The objective of the present study was to evaluate different methods for applying B fertilizers to two commercial cultivars of northern highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum Earliblue and Aurora) in western Oregon, USA. Treatments included soil application of sodium tetraborate in early April (before bloom), foliar application of boric acid in late April (during bloom or petal fall), weekly fertigation with boric acid from April through July, and a control with no B. The plants were irrigated by drip, and the fertilizers were applied for two consecutive seasons at a total rate of 1.5 kg·ha−1 B per year. Each method of fertilizer application increased the concentration of B in the soil solution relative to the control, but fertigation was the only treatment that increased extractable soil B to the recommended level of 0.5 to 1.0 mg·kg−1 B. In terms of plant nutrition, foliar application of B was the most effective method for increasing the concentration of B in the leaves, roots, and fruit, followed by fertigation. Soil application of B, on the other hand, was relatively ineffective and, after 2 years, only increased the concentration of B in the leaves of ‘Earliblue’. Although leaf B levels were initially deficient at the site (<30 ppm B), none of the B application methods had any effect on yield, berry weight, fruit firmness, or titratable acidity of the fruit in either cultivar. However, foliar applied B resulted in higher concentrations of soluble solids in the fruit than no B or soil applied B in ‘Earliblue’, whereas B fertigation resulted in higher concentrations of soluble solids than soil applied B in ‘Aurora’. On the basis of these results, applying B by fertigation or as a foliar spray is recommended over the use of soil applications of B fertilizer in northern highbush blueberry.

Open Access