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Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) has horticultural and restoration potential, but the achenes are difficult to germinate due to complex dormancy requirements. This study identified treatments to overcome physiological dormancy and determined light and temperature requirements for optimum germination. We first tested the effects of perigynia removal and light on achene germination. In the second experiment, achenes were subjected to varying durations of dry-cold or dry-warm storage conditions and a presowing soak in gibberellic acid (GA3). In a third experiment, we studied whether storage conditions, cold stratification, and sowing temperatures affected germination. Pennsylvania sedge germination was improved by dry-warm storage, perigynia removal, cold stratification, and germination in light.

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Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica) is an upland forest sedge with restoration and horticultural potential as a low-maintenance groundcover for dry shade. For large landscape and restoration plantings, seed or achenes in this case are much preferred due to lower labor and material costs. However, pennsylvania sedge typically produces few achenes in its native habitat. As a first step in improving achene production, this research evaluated the effect of vernalization and photoperiod on floral initiation and development. We conclude that this sedge is an obligate short-day plant that does not require vernalization for flowering. Plants flowered when exposed to daylengths of 6 to 12 hours. Flowering was completely inhibited with 14-hour photoperiods. Pennsylvania sedge was florally determined after 4 weeks of 8-hour photoperiods. Inflorescence quantity and normal floral development varied by clone and by weeks of exposure to 8-hour photoperiods. For two of the clones, the largest number of normal monoecious inflorescences was produced with 8 to 10 weeks of 8-hour photoperiods while the other two clones only required 6 to 8 weeks of exposure to inductive photoperiods. Therefore, it is important to evaluate observable variation between clones when attempting to propagate pennsylvania sedge.

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The floral industry has experienced declining sales in the past few decades, causing many to speculate as to the underlying causes. To identify consumers’ spending patterns for fresh flowers and potted plants, we extracted and analyzed quarterly expenditure interview data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, 1996 to 2013. Our analysis revealed consumption trends over time by age group, and compared the differences in expenditure patterns across states. Additionally, we employed the Heckman two-step model to estimate how flower consumption is affected by sociodemographic characteristics, geographic factors, housing status, and seasonal factors. The estimation results show that the source of declining demand can be attributed to the decrease in both number of flower purchasers and expenditure among purchasers. Many factors including age, marital status, gender, education, income, number of earners in household, population size of the residing city, house type, and number of rooms in the house affect the demand for fresh flowers and potted plants. Given that floral expenditure has been decreasing among consumers under 40 years of age for the past two decades, innovative marketing strategies to target this age cohort are essential for the floral industry’s success in the future.

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An online survey of readers of the University of Minnesota Extension's electronic Yard & Garden Newsletter (Y&G News) revealed significant differences between respondents on the basis of current employment and Master Gardener affiliation. Fifty-three percent of the respondents were general public (GP); 31% were Master Gardener trained (MGT), followed by full-time horticultural employees (FTE) and part-time horticultural employees (PTE) , each of whom made up to 8% of the 500 readers who responded to the survey. Overall, respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction with the newsletter (4.8 out of 5.0), and 81% indicated that the newsletter had provided them with “specific information that they found extremely valuable” in the past 2 years. PTE and MGT respondents rated the newsletter as significantly more useful than did the GP. FTE placed greatest value on timely information related to pest control. GP subscribers indicated that annuals and perennials were the horticultural topics they were most interested in for future issues. All subscribers highly value the newsletter for its usefulness and timeliness and indicated that the newsletter improved their ability to make horticultural decisions. Ninety-nine percent would recommend the newsletter to a friend. The mission of the Y&G News and content changes based on survey responses and available resources are discussed.

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Several studies have been conducted on low-maintenance turfgrass species; however, relatively few have evaluated mixtures or blends. The objective of this study was to evaluate low-maintenance turfgrass mixtures or blends for turf quality under minimal input conditions. Eight turfgrass mixtures or blends were planted in 2009 at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Chaska, MN) on a low-fertility soil to assess their adaptability to low-input conditions (minimal water and fertilizer and no pesticides after establishment). The year after establishment, plots were divided into no-mow and minimal mow treatments. Plots were evaluated for establishment in 2009 and overall quality and percent weed cover in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Native grass mixtures established slowly with greater weed encroachment, but over time resulted in high-quality ratings. Under minimal mowing, the Tall Fescue Blend [tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea)] performed the best for quality, while three fine fescue (Festuca sp.) mixtures and the Tall Fescue/Kentucky Bluegrass Mixture [tall fescue + kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)] also had acceptable quality ratings. The Kentucky Bluegrass Blend (kentucky bluegrass) was less competitive with weeds and had unacceptable quality ratings. Under no-mow conditions, the native grass mixtures and the Tall Fescue Blend had the highest overall quality ratings.

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Based on a survey of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS), membership need was identified for an online peer review system to validate innovation and recognize excellence in science-based teaching and extension scholarship for promotion and tenure purposes. This system would also provide a clearinghouse for instructional materials of merit for use in classrooms, laboratories, and outreach education, which fall outside the parameters of the three academic journals of ASHS. It was determined HortTechnology already provided a valued outlet for peer review of manuscript style teaching and extension scholarship; however, a need was identified for a mechanism to provide peer review of instructional materials which did not conform to a traditional manuscript format. Herein we describe the process that led to the development and launch of HortIM™, a new peer review system for teaching and extension instructional materials. An online peer review process for juried assessment of instructional materials such as articles, bulletins, case studies, fact sheets, instructional videos, teaching modules, and laboratory exercises was developed. A beta test of initial solicited materials in each category was piloted resulting in an initial database of these scholarly materials. This activity culminated in an initial opening of the system for submissions in Fall 2016. This article documents the development of HortIM™, including the submission and review process.

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The North Central Consumer Horticulture Working Group developed and distributed a 14-question survey to determine the confidence of north-central U.S. extension Master Gardeners (MGs) in making integrated pest management (IPM) recommendations and their use of IPM. The online survey was completed by 3842 MGs in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. MGs indicated they personally engaged in a range of IPM practices, including prevention, monitoring, cultural, and chemical controls. However, 81% indicated a need for more training in identifying diseases, and 65% say they needed more training in identifying insects. Only 16% indicated they had received advanced pest management training within the past 5 years. These MGs had higher mean scores for confidence, as well as prevention, monitoring, and cultural control and chemical awareness/control practices than those not participating in advanced training. Years of experience as an active MG and confidence in using IPM-related garden activities were correlated positively (r = 0.261). MGs with advanced pest management training were more confident in making IPM recommendations to other gardeners and were much more likely to use IPM practices than MG without advanced training.

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The American Society for Horticultural Science (Alexandria, VA) and Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA) engaged FleishmanHillard (FH, Washington, DC), a nationally recognized communications and marketing firm, to conduct research with internal and external audiences to determine the public perception of horticulture and careers in horticulture. Through stakeholder focus groups and general public online and phone surveys, the importance of horticulture, career perceptions, and the need for the promotion of horticulture were examined. Students, faculty, industry, and administrators in horticulture have a broad understanding of the field, much more than the public, especially young, ethnically diverse, and lower income participants. Although lack of public awareness is one of the biggest challenges in horticulture, it is also its greatest opportunity. Sixty-five percent of all phone survey participants as compared with 41% of 18–24 years old revealed a general awareness of the word horticulture. General public found agreement (48% to 59%) with four statements about the essential, universal, and invaluable worth of horticulture; however, strong agreement was less, ranging from 26% to 46%. Only 26% of respondents felt strong agreement with the statement, “Horticulture is a diverse area of study, and it offers viable, fulfilling, and respected career paths that I would recommend to others.” The research found strong stakeholder support for a national promotion of horticulture.

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Consumer horticulture encompasses a wide array of activities that are practiced by and of interest to the gardening public, garden-focused nongovernmental organizations, and gardening-related industries. In a previous publication, we described the current lack of funding for research, extension, and education in consumer horticulture and outlined the need for a strategic plan. Here, we describe our process and progress in crafting a plan to guide university efforts in consumer horticulture, and to unite these efforts with stakeholders’ goals. In 2015, a steering committee developed a first draft of a plan, including a mission statement, aspirational vision, core values, goals, and objectives. This draft was subsequently presented to and vetted by stakeholders at the 2015 American Society for Horticultural Science Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardeners (CHMG) working group workshop, a 2015 Extension Master Gardener Coordinators’ webinar, and a 2015 meeting in Washington, DC. Feedback received from these events is being used to refine and focus plan goals and objectives. The most recent working draft of the plan can be found on the website, where stakeholders and other interested parties can register to receive updates and to provide input into the process.

Open Access

Landscape plant evaluations were conducted in eight states: Colorado, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont for 17 switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and five little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) cultivars. Additional locations in Florida (Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Quincy, and Wimauma), Nebraska (Lincoln), and Lubbock and San Marcos completed 1 or 2 years of the trials. Plants were established in 2012 and data were collected for 3 years, 2013–15. Sites were asked to compile annual data on plant height, width, flowering time, fall color, pests, foliage color determined by the Royal Horticultural Society’s color chart, plant form, flowering date, floral impact, self-seeding, winter injury, landscape impact, and mortality. Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center (Overton), Florida (all four locations), and Vermont had the highest mortality rate. Southern Florida locations lost 50% of their plants by the end of 2014. Wide variation was reported for landscape impact, individual cultivar height, and width from different regions of the United States. Three of the 17 switchgrass cultivars, Cloud 9, Northwind, and Thundercloud, had a rating of 4.0 or higher averaged over six or more locations for plant form, floral, and landscape impact. ‘Shenandoah’ and ‘Warrior’ switchgrass had a rating of 4.0 or higher averaged over six or more locations for plant form and landscape impact, but not floral impact. Only one of the five little bluestem cultivars, Blue Heaven® rated 4.0 or higher, for plant form and landscape impact when averaged over six or more locations. This range of variability in landscape plant performance demonstrates the importance of local plant evaluations.

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