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B.A. Edmunds and G.J. Holmes

Methods of packing and handling sweetpotatoes are important for mitigating postharvest losses due to decay. The goal of this work is to take a critical look at the packing and handling processes in North Carolina (NC) sweetpotato packinghouses. Similar surveys are being conducted in Louisiana and Mississippi as part of a multi-state project. The survey is inclusive of all packingline operations including sequence of machinery components, length and speed of the packingline, decay control products/strategies used, and impact (bruising) measurements. Packingline impacts are quantified and characterized using a SmartSpud. This instrumented device is placed on the packingline where it is conveyed alongside sweetpotatoes, measuring the impact forces exerted and sending the data via a radio signal to a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA). The information on the PDA is downloaded onto a computer where the results can be displayed in more detail and analyzed. Packinghouse personnel respond well to this visual display and willingly spend one hour being interviewed, discussing the results of the survey, learning about the trouble spots on their lines, and getting advice on how to reduce potential injuries. About 15 out of 30 NC packinghouses have been surveyed (this includes all of the high-volume packinghouses). We typically found the largest impacts (30–70 G) occurring during dumping and at unprotected conveyor changes. Packinglines vary in length from 88 ft to 277 ft with run time varying from 3.5 min to >10 min. Lines all share the same basic components (dump, eliminator, brushbeds, sizer, etc.) with layout and design modified to suit individual needs and space requirements. A variety of decay control methods are in use with about one half of packers surveyed routinely applying the fungicide Botran.

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Perrin J. Carpenter and Mary Hockenberry Meyer

Homeowners in Edina, Minn., were surveyed in conjunction with a low-input lawn care community educa- tion project. Surveys were sent at the start and finish of the yearlong project, and asked questions pertaining to the respondent's lawn care knowledge, practices, and environ- mental attitude toward lawn inputs. The responses from before the program, compared with those afterward, show overall that homeowners lawn care did not change signifi- cantly by the end of the educational campaign. Responses are useful, however, in targeting future educational efforts. For example, while >80% of respondents were aware of the benefits of leaving mowed clippings on the lawn, <6% knew how much fertilizer is needed yearly for a medium mainte- nance lawn. Participants indicated a 10% weed tolerance was acceptable, but 25% was not; and disagreed with the state- ment &quot;pesticides are not harmful to the environment.”

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David T. Handley, Andrew Wheeler, and James F. Dill

Three strawberry fields in Maine where surveyed to determine what level of blossom injury was caused by strawberry bud weevil; whether different orders of blossoms were effected differently; and whether injury was influenced by the location of the plants in the field. Three strawberry fields which had no insecticide applications where surveyed. A sample of 200 inflorescences where examined in four different locations in each field. The number of inflorescences in a field that had injury from strawberry bud weevil varied from 10% to 64%. Most flower clusters showing injury had one bud girdled, but many had two or more buds girdled. The tertiary and secondary order buds had the highest levels of injury, while the primary and quaternary buds had the lowest levels of injury. Location of the plants in the field did not show any obvious effects on injury levels.

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Reginald S. Fletcher, David E. Escobar, and Mani Skaria

The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) provides relative estimates of vegetation vigor, density, and health. Little information is available on the application of NDVI imagery for citriculture. The objective of this study was to evaluate airborne NDVI imagery for assessing tree conditions in citrus (Citrus spp.) orchards. Images of two south Texas citrus groves with stressed and nonstressed trees were qualitatively evaluated. Stressed trees were easily detected from nonstressed trees in the images. The images were also helpful for developing survey plans of the citrus groves. Our results indicated that airborne NDVI images could be used as a tool to assess tree conditions in citrus orchards. Findings should be of interest to citrus growers, extension agents, agricultural consultants, and private surveying companies.

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Wen-fei L. Uva and Thomas C. Weiler

Adopting technology to achieve environmental stewardship is a high priority among greenhouse industry members. Zero runoff crop production systems can protect surface and ground water and use water, fertilizer, and labor resources more efficiently. However, scarce capital and fear of new technology are impediments to change. Our objectives were to characterize decision making and profitability related to zero runoff systems. Managers of 80 greenhouse operations with zero runoff systems in 26 states participated in a survey designed to gather information on the costs–benefits of adoption and production changes and issues related to zero runoff systems for greenhouse operations. The survey results revealed that some adjustments of production practices were essential when adopting zero runoff systems. It also appeared that greenhouse operators believe they are achieving the intended outcomes and efficiencies from their investment. Size of the operation appeared to be closely linked to the growers' willingness to adopt this new technology. Important reasons for making the decision of adopting zero runoff systems were to improve quality of productions, cut production costs, increase production efficiency, and respond to public concern for the environment. Two thirds of the operators surveyed found that special employee training in the operation of zero runoff systems was required. Most employers found in-house training was adequate for their needs. Operators verified that a significant learning curve slows implementation of zero runoff production Adjustments of cultural practices coupled with good production management were keys to growing zero runoff successfully.

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Kathleen M. Kelley, Bridget K. Behe, John A. Biernbaum, and Kenneth L. Poff

coordinators at Michigan State University for permission to conduct these surveys.

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Kenneth W. Mudge and Kelly Hennigan

The role of cooperative extension in providing information to amateur and professional horticulturists is being profoundly altered by the availability of vast amounts of horticultural resources on the World Wide Web and other electronic media. Advances in computer-related instructional technologies including the Internet, have coincided with, and to some extent triggered, a burgeoning demand for non-traditional continuing education in practically all fields of knowledge, including landscape horticulture. Although there are numerous Web sites offering a wide range of gardening and related information, there are relatively few opportunities for structured learning in the form of on-line distance learning courses or instructional modules. In Fall 1999, we conducted a survey of the membership of the New York State Nursery/Landscape Association to determine priority-training needs that might be met by computer-mediated distance learning. One-hundred-seven companies, representing horticulture-based businesses throughout New York State, completed the surveys. Results from the survey indicated that 83% of those responding were interested in taking one or more computer-based distance learning course(s), that 67% were willing to provide financial support for continuing education of their employees, and that 95% have access to a personal computer. We have also collected data indicating subject matter preferences, interest in full-course and short-course offerings, levels of computer and Internet experience, and more. It is apparent from the findings in this study that the cooperative extension has a great opportunity to use the World Wide Web as a component of its role as an information provider. This research will contribute to designing effective approaches for teaching hands-on horticultural skills at a distance, thereby expanding the cooperative extension's ability to reach its intended audiences.

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Kory M. Beidler, Jeffery K. Iles, Sarah M. Nusser, and Ann Marie VanDerZanden

Corporation. We gratefully acknowledge assistance with the survey design by Janice M. Larson from the Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology at Iowa State University.

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Severn C. Doughty, Daniel J. Gill, and David C. Blouin

Landscape palms were surveyed for cold damage 8 to 10 months after the coldest weather episode recorded this century in the New Orleans, La., area. Fourteen genera and 21 species of palms totaling 9039 individuals were surveyed and assigned to one of three condition categories within six geographic areas. Area 1, north of Lake Pontchartrain, was not a reliable area for the majority of the 21 species found. South of Lake Pontchartrain, areas 2-6 were considered statistically better for overall palm survival, with area 3 best followed by areas 4, 2, 5, and 6. Although species survival depended somewhat on area, 10 species were found to be statistically reliable south of Lake Pontchartrain: Brahea armata, Chamaedorea microspadix, Phoenix canariensis, Rhapidophyllum hystrix, Sabal mexicana, S. minor, S. palmetto, Sabal spp., Sabal spp. seedlings, and Trachycarpus fortune;. Two species, Phoenix reclinata and Phoenix spp., were found to be marginal and seven species were found to be unreliable: Butia capitata, Chamaerops humilis, Livistona chinensis, Rhapis excelsa, Syagrus romanzoffiana, Washingtonia filifera, and W. robusta. Due to low individual numbers, survival for three species could not be reliably estimated: Arenga engleri, Phoenix dactyfifera, and Serenoa repens.

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Amy H. Simonne, Bridget K. Behe, and Maurice M. Marshall

Fresh and processed tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) consumption has increased 40% in the United States over the last two decades. Through better breeding, fresh tomatoes now are marketed in different forms, sizes, colors, and flavors. However, little published information exists concerning consumer demand, preference, and demographic characteristics related to fresh tomato consumption. Taking advantage of a high percentage of Internet use in the U.S., two web-based surveys were released to approximately 6000 e-mail addresses reaching people in every region of the U.S. The surveys contained a total of 61 questions, including 50 digital images of five types of tomatoes (cherry, grape, cluster, plum, and regular slicing) with combinations of three additional factors (price, lycopene content, and production style) and demographic information. Among 389 respondents, 76% preferred and purchased slicing tomatoes in the 4 weeks prior to the survey. These were followed by grape/mini-pear (42%), plum (36%), cluster (27%), cherry (25%), and yellow slicing tomatoes (4.4%). Overall, production method (organic vs. conventional) had low relative importance in comparison to price and tomato type. However, younger participants (<age 38 years) placed more importance on production method. Participants between ages 39 and 57 years were the most price-sensitive, and female were less sensitive than males. Younger participants (<age 38 years) were less price-sensitive and placed more importance on the other attributes (production method, lycopene content, and tomato type).