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  • Author or Editor: John A. Biernbaum x
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Three separate marketing studies were conducted during 2000 to determine consumer purchase behavior, use, and potential for purchasing edible flowers. First, a telephone survey was administered to 423 randomly selected residences in the Metro-Detroit area. Participants with some college education were more likely to have eaten edible flowers, would be more likely to eat them, and would be more likely to buy them. A second survey conducted with 25 Michigan Master Gardeners collected more detailed responses about edible flower purchase and use. Females were more likely to purchase edible flowers than males. Single-person households were less likely to have grown edible flowers than larger households. Participants with an annual income ≤$39,999 were half as likely to have purchased edible flowers as the higher income group. A third consumer survey was conducted over a 6-week period with three Metro-Detroit area grocery stores where consumers purchased containers of edible flowers with an attached survey form. A total of 243 of 360 containers of edible flowers were sold, and we received a 27% response rate. All respondents (100%) with an annual income ≥$30,001 were likely to like the flavor of the flowers. Across all three studies, there were few significant differences between demographic characteristics, which indicates that a homogeneous marketing strategy may effectively reach consumers. Based on these results, there appears to be is consumer interest in edible flowers, some consumers have had experience using and serving them, and will purchase them in grocery stores if marketed to attract the consumers interest.

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The measurement of evaporation and transpiration from container-grown crops is labor intensive and expensive if measurements are made by periodic weighing of the plants with electronic scales. Thin-beam load cells (LCL-816G, Omega Engineering) measured with a datalogger provides a method of making continuous mass measurements over time. Four load cells were tested to determine the feasibility for use in greenhouse studies. The sensors were calibrated to an electronic scale at a range of air temperatures. The electrical signal (μV) was a linear function of mass from 0 to 816 g. The change in mass per change in electrical signal (i.e. the slope) was the same for all four load cells (1.26 g ·μV-1), however the absolute electrical signal (the intercept) was unique for each sensor (-246 to + 101 g). The effect of temperature on sensor output was unique for each sensor in terms of both the magnitude and direction of change. A two-point calibration of mass performed at a range of temperatures is required to properly use thin-beam load cells to continuously measure evapotranspiration of container-grown crops.

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Quantitative and qualitative data from a group of 12 novice hoophouse farmers over a 3-year period in Michigan were analyzed to better understand factors associated with profitable use of these structures. There was wide variation in labor inputs and effective wages. We used regression analysis and semistructured interviews to better understand the variation in performance. Not all farmers were making use of the hoophouse between outdoor seasons when supply is low and prices are high, as economic theory would predict. However, high wage earners were more likely to push production into the extended season months, hire labor at higher wages, and spend less time in maintaining crops and appeared to harvest more efficiently. Markets played a role in farmers’ success as some farmers were able to make significant profits by organizing community-supported agriculture (CSA)/direct sales or by finding new markets.

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Relatively low-cost season extension structures have the potential to contribute to farm economic viability in temperate climates by providing a means to continue sales beyond the limits of outdoor-only field production. These structures, commonly called hoophouses, high tunnels, passive solar greenhouses, or unheated greenhouses, allow for the extension of heat-tolerant (warm season) crops on both ends of the production time frame and at winter harvesting of cold-tolerant (cool season) crops. In this study, results are presented from a multiyear investigation into the economic impacts of year-round production and harvesting, with a focus on profitability of the structure and crop production as a whole. The results of case studies from nine Michigan farms reveal a very broad range of outcomes across farms in construction time, labor allocation and returns, and gross and net revenue. The economic implications of farmer use, including projected investment payback time, are discussed.

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Two identical surveys were conducted with separate samples to determine consumer perceptions of the quality of five edible flower species. Participants were either members of a class that reviewed the history and uses of edible flowers at an annual, 1-day event (Garden Days) or Michigan Master Gardeners who attended a similar class. Participants were shown a randomized series of projected photographic slides of five edible flower species and asked to indicate whether they found the flower quality acceptable. The slides depicted a range of ratings of mechanical damage, insect damage, or flower senescence on a Likert reference scale (1 through 5) developed by the researchers. A flower rated 5 was flawless, while a flower rated 1 had substantial damage. Nearly one-half of all participants had eaten edible flowers before the study, and 57% to 59% had grown them for their own consumption, indicating many individuals had previous experience. Both samples rated flower quality equally and found pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana `Accord Banner Clear Mixture'), tuberous begonia (Begonia ×tuberhybrida `Ornament Pink'), and viola (Viola tricolor `Helen Mount') acceptable from stage 5 to 3. Both groups found the nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus `Jewel Mix') flowers acceptable at only rating 5. Garden Days participants rated borage (Borago officinalis) acceptable from ratings 5 to 3, while the Master Gardeners rated their acceptability from only 5 to 4. Participants also rated flower color (yellow, orange, and blue) as equally acceptable.

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Abstract

Triacontanol (TRIA), a 30-carbon primary alcohol, was shown to be a more effective plant growth stimulator when formulated as a colloidal dispersion than as a suspension in chloroform and Tween 20 or acetone naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), and CaCl2. TRIA applied at rates of 0.1 and 1.0 μg/liter consistently increased the dry weight of maize (Zea mays L.) shoots and rice (Oryza sativa L.) seedlings in short-term greenhouse and growth chamber experiments. This application rate is 1000-fold lower than optimum levels applied with other formulations. A 99.45% pure sample of TRIA stimulated maize growth 2 times more than a sample containing 96.40% TRIA at a concentration of 0.5 μg/liter. Neither dispersion pH nor water hardness altered activity of TRIA formulated as a colloidal dispersion. It may be practical to apply TRIA with a controlled-droplet applicator in volumes of water as low as 8–11 liters/ha. The most important environmental factors evaluated for their effect on crop response to TRIA were time of day and temperature prior to spraying. In growth chamber studies, foliar application of TRIA 3 to 7 hours into the photoperiod resulted in twice the growth increase as applications made 11 hours into the photoperiod. In the greenhouse, with supplemental high intensity lamps, sprays were about twice as effective applied 11 hours (5 pm) as 3 hours (9 am) into the photoperiod. There was a positive correlation between the temperature of the growth chamber environment one hour before spraying and the response to TRIA; however, temperature of the environment for one hour after spray application had no effect on TRIA activity.

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Abstract

The effects of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), day temperature (DT) and night temperature (NT) on leaf number, leaf unfolding rate and shoot length were determined for chrysanthemum (Dendranthema grandiflora Tzvelev. ‘Bright Golden Anne’) grown under short day (SD) conditions. A functional relationship was first developed to predict if flower bud appearance would occur within 100 SD under a given set of environmental conditions. All combinations of DT and NT in the range from 10° to 30°C were predicted to result in flower bud appearance at higher PPF than 10.8 mol·day−1·m−2. The number of leaves formed below the flower increased quadratically as DT and/or NT increased from 10° to 30°. As PPF increased from 1.8 to 21.6 mol·day−1·m−2, one to two fewer leaves were formed per shoot. Rate of leaf unfolding increased linearly with increasing average daily temperature from 0.2 leaves/day at 10° to 0.5 leaves/day at 30°. Internode length was highly correlated with the difference between DT and NT (DIF = DT – NT) such that increasing DIF from –12° to 12° resulted in progressively longer internodes.

Open Access