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  • Author or Editor: Mary Hockenberry-Meyer x
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Miscanthus sinensis was investigated where it has naturalized and invaded native plant communities in southeastern Pennsylvania, the Washington, D.C. area, western North Carolina, and Iowa. Plants were identified; inflorescences were collected; seed was cleaned and tested for viability; and soil was collected for seed bank analysis. Many individuals were interviewed at each location. Locations were mapped to show miscanthus. The species or “wild type” Miscanthus sinensis that has naturalized at the above locations is rarely sold in the nursery trade. The numerous, popular, ornamental cultivars derived from this species are vegetatively propagated clones that are common in the nursery trade. Miscanthus is self-incompatible and sets seed only when two or more genotypes are grown together. Individual isolated plants set little seed. Plants of the wild type which have naturalized each represent a unique individual or genotype and thus set heavy seed, quite different from ornamental cultivars. Further complicating this is the high variability of seed set due to environmental conditions. Management guidelines were developed along with recommendations which include: Do not plant the species Miscanthus sinensis. Cultivars of the species, especially when two are more are grown together, represent a high risk for self-seeding in the Mid Atlantic states. Cultivars should only be planted in areas where they can be watched and managed for self-seeding. No miscanthus should be planted where it can seed into native areas, such as highways, fields, meadows, or wooded areas. A comprehensive website with identification, pictures, management guidelines, and recommendations was developed: http://horticulture.coafes.umn.edu/miscanthus.

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Nearly 300 Master Gardeners (MGs) who stopped volunteering were surveyed as to why they did not continue in the program. The fivequestion survey was mailed to people who had not turned in volunteer hours for the previous two years. Forty-seven percent or 131 useable surveys were returned and tabulated. A majority of the respondents, 73 (56%), indicated “no time” as the primary reason for not volunteering. Illness or personal reasons accounted for 30 responses (23%), and 20 people (15%) indicated they were disappointed in the program. Eighty-one percent rated the program as excellent or good; 79% indicated they would recommend the program to others.

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Homeowner surveys conducted in Edina, Minn., showed varying levels of horticultural knowledge on lawn care. A majority of consumers, 75%, knew the value of lawn clippings was equivalent to one fertilization treatment, but 72% did not know the amount of fertilizer needed for a medium maintenance lawn. A total of 77% indicated spring as the single best time to control broadleaf weeds, and 39% thought spring was the best time to fertilize, whereas 48% indicating fall as the best time to fertilize. Current practices included the following: leaving clippings on the lawn, 75%; bagged and removed clippings,16%; 83% apply fertilize in the spring; 67% fertilize in the fall; 61% apply herbicides; 74% mow weekly; 51% mow at 2–3″, but 27% mow at 1–2″. Environmental attitudes were rated on a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 being strongly agree and 4 being strongly disagree. Consumers strongly agreed that pesticide (1.5) and fertilizer (1.7) applications should be posted in public areas. The statement “A well kept lawn increases property values” also found strong agreement, (1.6). Consumers disagreed that pesticides are not harmful to the environment (3.3) and public health (3.3); while fertilizers were only slightly less harmful to the environment (3.0) and public health (2.9). A 10% weed population was acceptable (2.2) but 25% was not (3.3). Areas for consumer education exist in the time and amount of fertilizer, timing of weed control, and mowing height. Because of negative attitudes toward pesticides and fertilizers, recommendations for medium to low input grasses should be well received.

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Many different vegetatively propagated cultivars of Miscanthus sinensis Anderss. are popular ornamental grasses sold at garden centers and nurseries. Large stands of the “wild type” or species (not ornamental cultivars) of this grass have self-seeded near Asheville, N.C.; Valley Forge, Pa.; and Washington, D.C. In order to document the competitive ability of this self-seeded naturalized species, a greenhouse competition study was conducted with Panicum virgatum L. `Forestburg' (P), switchgrass, and several non-native, naturalized biotypes of Miscanthus sinensis (M) grown from seed collected from the above locations. Seedlings were transplanted into #1 (2.88 L) containers in nine different planting arrangements: 2M; 4M; 8M; 2M2P; 4M4P; 8M8P; 2P; 4P; 8P, and grown for 15 weeks. Growth measurements were taken during the 15 weeks. At harvest, shoot and root dry weights were calculated. Panicum had significantly larger root (0.50 g vs. 6.00 g) and shoot (6.96 g vs. 2.3 g) biomass, respectively, than Miscanthus. Intraspecific competition in monocultures was significantly higher for Panicum than Miscanthus. Panicum showed higher competitive ability than all Miscanthus biotypes, with one exception: root dry weights of one Pennsylvania biotype. Panicum increased in dry weight at the expense of Miscanthus. Panicum dominated Miscanthus during the 15 weeks and, in this study, proved to be a better competitor than Miscanthus. Miscanthus and Panicum did not fully share the common limiting resources and they showed partial resource complementarity. Miscanthus biotype variation was evident; the highest dry weights were from a Pennsylvania biotype and the smallest weights were from a Washington, D.C., biotype.

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This paper presents a decision case concerning the application of herbicides to turfgrass at a public university housing project. Some residents opposed pesticide use, even though the grounds were infested with weeds. The chair of the grounds committee had to decide whether or not to use herbicides given the resulting social implications. The case was written for use in turfgrass management or introductory horticulture classes and possibly for turf and landscape personnel taught through extension education. Students assume the role of a decisionmaker in the complicated issue of pesticide use.

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The Master Gardener (MG) program operates in conjunction with the cooperative extension service in most states. The training, management, and administration of these volunteers vary widely from state to state. This paper presents a 4-year analysis of the initial cost of training Minnesota MGs and their volunteer hours contributed to the Minnesota Extension Service. The average training cost was $89/person (based on the total number of volunteers certified 2 years after the training) with an average of 59 ($711 at $12/h) and 40 ($474) hours volunteered or paid back over the first and following years, respectively. In all years, hours volunteered exceeded program expectations of 50 hours the first year and 25 hours thereafter.

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A yearlong community education project was conducted in Edina, Minn., to teach residents about low-input lawn care techniques. Informational articles, a World Wide Web (Web) page, public seminar, and demonstration sites were the four major strategies employed by the project. Each of these teaching methods had a specific objective for influencing the lawn care knowledge and practices of Edina residents. Feedback from surveys at the completion of the project showed that printed articles had the highest familiarity. Based on these results, recommendations are given for other communities to implement low-input lawn care education programs.

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