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  • Author or Editor: Ariana Torres x
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Parboiled rice hulls have become a more common component of soilless growing substrates. While there have been reports that some organic substrate components reduce the efficacy of plant growth retardant (PGR) drenches, the influence of rice hulls on PGR drenches is unknown. ‘Callie Deep Yellow’ calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ×hybrid) and ‘Delta Orange Blotch’ pansy (Viola wittrockiana) were planted in containers filled with substrate containing (v/v) 80% peat and 20% perlite or parboiled rice hulls. After planting, 2.5-fl oz drenches containing deionized water or ancymidol, paclobutrazol, or uniconazole were applied to plants grown in each substrate. Plant growth retardants, but not substrate, affected growth rate, and final stem length of calibrachoa and plant height of pansy. There were no differences in regression model coefficients between substrates within PGR applications for plant height (pansy) or stem length (calibrachoa) over the course of the experiment. Paclobutrazol (2.0 or 4.0 ppm) and uniconazole (1.0 or 2.0 ppm), but not ancymidol (1.0 or 2.0 ppm) suppressed final stem length of calibrachoa. Final height of pansy was suppressed by each concentration of paclobutrazol and uniconazole and 2.0 ppm ancymidol, but not 1.0 ppm ancymidol. Based on these results, rice hulls did not reduce PGR drench efficacy when included as a substrate component comprising (v/v) 20% of a substrate.

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The consumption of salad mixes has increased because of their convenience and nutritional value, resulting in significant sales increases during the past decade. Conversely, the uses of pest-control chemicals, long-distance transportation of salad mixes, and plastic packaging have raised environmental concerns among “green consumers.” Because proenvironmental products are becoming more widespread, this study delved into market segments of salad mix consumers based on their preferences for proenvironmental labels. Data for this study were collected via a 2020 web-based survey of 2100 salad mix consumers in the United States. We performed a comprehensive two-stage cluster analysis that integrated both hierarchical and partitioning methods. This analysis was based on consumers’ preferences and evaluations of production (low energy use, low fertilizer use, low greenhouse gas emissions, low water use, and pollinator-friendly) and marketing-related (biodegradable packaging, low carbon footprint, and low food miles) proenvironmental labels. Three segments were identified. We used ordered probit regression to assess the impact of consumer demographic characteristics, market preferences, and environmental perceptions on cluster membership. The deep-rooted segment, which represented 36% of the sample, highly valued all proenvironmental labels related to salad mixes and had a particular preference for labels that included low fertilizer use, pollinator-friendly production methods, and low greenhouse gas emissions. The indecisive segment comprised 40% of the sample and moderately valued all proenvironmental labels; this group mainly comprised individuals with lower income levels and those living in rural areas. The skeptic segment represented 23% of the sample and valued environmental labels less than the deep-rooted and indecisive segments did; additionally, they reported the lowest consumption of salad mixes. These findings can help retailers and policymakers communicate information about proenvironmental labels more effectively to each segment of salad mix consumers.

Open Access

Value-added (VA) technologies can help farmers in the specialty crops industry generate new products, increase off-season income sources, expand market access, and improve overall profitability. The United States Department of Agriculture defines VA agricultural products as those that have been changed physically or produced in a manner that enhances their value. Drawing from this definition, we investigated the adoption of VA technologies, such as drying, physical cutting into customer-ready portions, and washing, by specialty crops farmers. The objectives of this study were two-fold. First, we analyzed how market access drives specialty crop farmers to adopt VA technologies. Second, we addressed key identification issues by investigating the potential endogeneity between the adoption of VA technologies (vertical diversification) and the number of crops (horizontal diversification), which have not been addressed in the VA technology adoption literature. Data for this study were from a 2019 Web-based survey of specialty crops farmers in the United States. The results suggest that market access, growers’ networks, and crop diversification are major drivers of VA technology adoption in the specialty crops industry. The results indicate that farmers who adopted VA technologies experienced economic growth relative to their counterparts.

Open Access

As more individuals use the Internet for business and leisure, the opportunities for firms to promote products and services and to communicate with consumers online increases. The objective of this study was to investigate green industry managerial decisions to engage in online advertising and how much to invest while determining the main drivers contributing to these decisions. A double-hurdle model analyses of 1735 responses to the 2014 National Green Industry Survey, which gathered information on business practices, showed >40% of green industry business invested in online advertising. Typically, businesses investing in online advertising spent more than 43% of all advertising expenditures in online methods, including websites, social media, and newsletters. Furthermore, the decision to engage in online advertising was driven by the percentage of wholesale and contract sales, market access, firm size, product mix, and business owners’ perceptions. Results also showed that the amount of dollars invested in online advertising depended on firm size, tools used to find customers, location, and business owners’ perceptions. Our findings can help extension personnel and policymakers with the design and deliver social media training and educational events. Our findings can also help green industry businesses understand the two-step nature of the decision to invest in online advertising.

Open Access

Plants native to the United States, defined as those being present before European settlement, have aesthetic and environmental benefits. In 2018, only 10% of plant sales were native plants, a plant category that tends to be underrepresented in many residential and commercial landscapes. Although earlier research indicated that consumers find native plants less aesthetically appealing relative to introduced species, more recent research reported a growing demand for native plants. Thus, a better understanding of consumer perceptions would facilitate their marketing. We used an online survey of 1824 participants representing five geographic regions (West, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Northwest) to classify adopters based on their purchase of native plants. A double-hurdle model was used to estimate factors influencing purchasing native plants among US homeowners, and the factors influencing the amount spent on native plants in 2021. Demographically, metropolitan, college-educated, and younger participants were more likely to be native plant adopters; they also spent 80% more on plants compared with nonnative plant adopters. More native plant adopters agreed that native plants were better for the environment than exotic plants (68%), are readily available in their area (67%), and are better adapted to difficult sites (75%). Marketing efforts should capitalize on the environmental benefits to stimulate purchases.

Open Access

Before consumers choose what and how much fruit to buy, they first decide where to buy it. To address the choices of stores for fresh fruits, this study investigated the influence of market attributes and customers’ attitudes toward their purchasing decisions. Data from a web-based survey of 1658 U.S. consumers were used to conduct multinomial logit regression to investigate the factors guiding their choices regarding four types of stores: chain, independent, club/warehouse, and direct-to-consumer. We found attitudinal scales and market attributes have different effects on the choice of marketplace for fresh fruits. Driven by price and convenience, most consumers prefer chain stores when buying fresh fruits, whereas those same factors deter them from choosing independent and ethnic stores for fresh fruits. The supply of local fruits, friendly atmosphere, and access to desirable fresh fruits positively influenced consumers to purchase fruits at local markets. Our findings can provide insight regarding food retailers and farmers targeting fresh fruit consumers. For example, our findings highlight the importance of providing a friendly atmosphere and outstanding customer service to positively influence purchasing behavior.

Open Access