Cultivar Trial Setup: A Case Study for Potted Plant Production Specialists

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108.

A case study is presented for use as an active learning tool for students in a floriculture potted plant production class. This is the second case study developed for Floratech, a potted plant finisher. Students work together in small groups to solve the proposed problems; each student role-plays as a Potted Plant Production Specialist. A memorandum from the Board of Directors is delivered in their first month on the job at Floratech. Objectives of this case study are to determine the students' fluency in terminology and crop-specific cultural requirements for potted plant production of cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) and primrose (Primula sp.) as well as their ability to setup a scientifically rigorous and unbiased cultivar trial for Floratech personnel and selected customers. Students research the latest commercial catalogs to determine which species, series, and cultivars are available, as well as their relative merits, prior to choosing the appropriate cultivars to include in the trial. The trial setup has a space limitation of 2,000 ft2 (186 m2). This case study was tested with 20 undergraduate students during Fall Semester 1999. The case study demonstrated the students' fluency with terminology and crop-specific cultural requirements for both crops. Their ability to set up a scientifically rigorous trial varied widely, often with an inadequate sampling of cultivars and excessive replications (56 ± 37 cyclamen to 132 ± 65 primrose). A mean ± sd of 4 ± 1 cyclamen and 7 ± 3 primrose series were chosen. The number of cultivars varied from 6 ± 2 cyclamen to 9 ± 4 primrose and the number of distributors was similar for the crops. Trial design and additional questions raised by the case study were discussed in class and applied in a cultivar trial in the lab. Unanswered questions were used as learning opportunities during class tours with local growers.

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