Consumer Survey Identifies Plant Management Awareness and Added Value of Dogwood Powdery Mildew Resistance

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  • 1 Plant Sciences Department, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-4500
  • 2 Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.
  • 3 Department of Horticulture, University of Michigan, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325. 37996-4500.
  • 4 South MS Branch Experiment Station, Mississippi State University, P.O. Box 193, Poplarville, MS 39470.

A survey was administered to assess plant characteristics that consumers consider important when selecting landscape plants for purchase. Visitors to home and garden shows in Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn.; Detroit, Mich.; and Jackson, Miss., completed 610 questionnaires. Respondents also indicated their familiarity with integrated pest management (IPM) concepts, pest control philosophy, recognition of flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) pests and diseases, including dogwood powdery mildew (Microsphaera pulchra), and willingness-to-pay a price differential for a powdery-mildew-resistant flowering dogwood. Fewer than half of the respondents in any city indicated familiarity with IPM, although they were familiar with organic farming and pest scouting components of an IPM program. Willingness-to-pay was relatively consistent across all four locations. The uniformity of average tree premiums, which ranged from $11.87 in Jackson to $16.38 in Detroit, supports the proposition that customers are willing to pay a substantially higher price for a landscape tree that will maintain a healthier appearance without the use of chemical sprays. Factors affecting consumer demand for landscape nursery products and services can be paired with consumer awareness of IPM terminology and practices to create an effective market strategy for newly developed powdery-mildew-resistant dogwood cultivars.

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