New Guinea Impatiens have become a major spring crop for many commercial greenhouses. Along with increased sales has come a proliferation of new varieties from which commercial growers must choose. To help provide growers with information to make these selections the ornamental horticulture extension program at Penn State has tested landscape performance of New Guinea Impatiens in the sun and the shade each year since 1994. Cuttings are obtained from commercial producers and six plants of each variety are planted in landscape beds in the full sun and six plants are planted in landscape beds under a shade structure. Plants are evaluated on flowering, foliage and overall appearance every 2 weeks throughout the summer. Commercial growers can evaluate varieties on their own during the trial field day and results are made available in an annual report and are posted on the internet. A survey of participants in the 1995 field day indicated that 98% of those responding used the printed report to make or change their variety selections. Supplementing the printed report with the internet for distribution of results allows broad dissemination of detailed information including photographs and graphics that could not be easily distributed in hard copy form. In the future trial results posted on the internet could be used to supplement point of sale materials, providing growers and retailers with a powerful new marketing tool.
Easter lily plants (Lilium longiflorum Thunb.), derived from tissue culture and grown continuously, were subjected to various photoperiod and chilling treatments. Lilies grown with daylength extended either with high-intensity discharge (HID) or incandescent lights flowered in the same number of days, but had more flower buds with HID lamps. Flowering was delayed and plants produced more leaves as photoperiod was reduced from 16 to 12 hours. The numbers of leaves, primary, secondary, and tertiary flowers, and the time to flower were all significantly reduced as the duration of extended lighting was increased from 0 to 6 weeks. As the number of weeks of cooling at 5°C increased from 0 to 5, time to flower was significantly reduced.
Recirculating irrigation systems (RISs) conserve water and decrease fertilizer application, providing cost-effective alternatives to other watering methods in greenhouses. However, RISs can potentially become contaminated from spray or drench pesticide applications. In this study, we determined the amount of metalaxyl residues (the active ingredient in Subdue) in RISs over 3 and 6 weeks using HPLC analysis. Also examined was the potential use of constructed wetlands for the remediation of RIS water contaminated with metalaxyl. Metalaxyl was found to persist in a RIS over 6 weeks with no decrease in concentration. After repeated metalaxyl treatments over an 11 month period, a possible breakdown product or chemical modification of metalaxyl was present in the RISs. Drench applications, 150 ml of an 18.8 ppm metalaxyl solution, (recommended dosage) resulted in 0.5 to 3.0 ppm contamination levels in the RISs. Small scale (≈70 L void volume), indoor, constructed wetlands (two planted with Scirpus and Iris, two unvegetated) were treated with 420 mg metalaxyl. Limited breakdown of metalaxyl occurred in the constructed wetlands during the first 30 days after treatment. After 3 months, metalaxyl concentrations in all wetlands had decreased or were below detection levels. This indicates a possible selection of microbial populations capable of metabolizing or degrading metalaxyl.
The concepts of container water-holding capacity and air-filled porosity are important yet complicated for students interested in containerized crop production; however, both of these concepts can be observed and understood more completely if students develop a moisture retention curve. Our objectives were to describe an easy-to-construct and economical apparatus for creating a moisture retention curve and then to compare this curve with one generated by standard methods. The student method (column method) is constructed from plastic pipe cut into 5-cm sections. The sections of pipe are individually packed with a substrate then stacked and taped together, resulting in a 60-cm column of the substrate. The column is saturated and allowed to drain for 24 h. Then, the column is taken apart and the water content of each section determined gravimetrically. The water content of each section is graphed against height so that the result is a moisture retention curve. Data are presented to show the curve developed from the column method is similar to the curve developed by standard soil moisture tension method. The moisture retention curve can provide a better understanding of water and air holding capacities of substrates.
Current and future plans for reductions in federal and state funding suggest that government supported programs must find ways to reduce costs while maintaining or expanding programs. The current model of extension, with an agent for each commodity in every county is not likely to survive. Furthermore, the days when university-based specialists could afford to make house calls also are probably limited. Yet, the need for extension support in the floriculture industry is as great as ever. Increased chemical costs and regulatory pressure are restricting grower options and making it increasingly important that information dissemination and technology transfer occur in timely and appropriate ways. To try to meet the needs of the floriculture industry in Pennsylvania, we have begun a program to help develop independent greenhouse crop management associations to work with milti-county and university-based extension specialists to improve program delivery to the member greenhouses. The first of these associations has been established in the Capital Region in central Pennsylvania and is providing IPM scouting and crop management services to member greenhouses. Development of associations and linkages with and the role of extension are discussed.
A set of studies was established in Summer 1998 to determine the tolerance of field-grown cut flower species to specific preemergence herbicides, the effectiveness of weed control by those materials, and to determine if productivity of cut flowers is affected either by the herbicides or by colored mulches. Pendimethalin provided excellent early season weed control, but poor late-season control. It consistently caused injury at 4 lb a.i./A and sometimes at the 2 lb a.i./A rate. Oryzalin provided good to excellent weed control, but slightly injured celosia and zinnia when applied at 4 lb a.i./A. Napropamide provided excellent early season weed control, but marginally acceptable weed control later in the season. Though napropamide caused some injury to celosia early in the season when applied at the high rate, no injury to any of the plants was observed later in the season. Prodiamine and trifluralin were the overall safest of the herbicides, but they provided the weakest weed control. OH-2 was very effective when placed on the soil surface, but was less effective when placed on an organic mulch. The organic mulch was designed to keep the OH-2 particles from splashing on to the crop plant and injuring the plants. OH-2 tended to be safer placed on a mulch than on the soil surface, but statice was slightly injured even when a mulch was used.
The Internet offers many new and unique opportunities to disseminate information. The development of the World Wide Web (WWW) and information browsers like Netscap, Mosaic, and simple-to-use server software like MacHTTP provides means to allow low-cost access to information, including pictures and graphics previously unavailable to most people. The Pennsylvania State Univ. variety trial garden annually tests >1000 plants. Information is gathered on garden and pack performance, and photos of superior plants and varieties are taken. To provide wider access to this information, we have begun development of a Cyberspace trial garden on the internet. This server contains a wide variety of garden trial information developed from trials conducted in State College and Dauphin, Pa.. This server and a similar effort at Univ. of Minnesota are being constructed cooperatively. Hot links are provided between the server in Pennsylvania and the one in Minnesota, providing users with seamless access to information from both servers.
The dramatic reduction in available greenhouse insecticides and the potential for increased insect resistance has necessitated a change in insect control techniques. Because of the large acreage of greenhouse production in Pennsylvania and the need for a more environmentally effective method of controlling insects in greenhouses, an aggressive Integrated Pest Management research program was initiated and has been on-going since 1989. Our objectives were to develop a bibliography of major insect pests; to determine effectiveness of parasitoids on greenhouse and silverleaf whitefly, western flower thrip, and aphids; to reduce pesticide usage; and to comply with worker protection standards. The program was implemented by a joint venture among the Pennsylvania State Univ. faculty and technical staff, grower cooperators, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture, and the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association. The IPM program was started with an active scouting and monitoring program in commercial houses to determine threshold levels. Control measures were implemented with biological controls, cultural management, and lastly chemical. In addition, the implementation of the results of this research to commercial growers has resulted in the formation of a Greenhouse Crop Management Association. Results of the 5-year research program are discussed.
Gardeners can provide the best insight to their gardening experiences and interests. In order to identify potential buyers of the state plant promotional program, Pennsylvania Gardener Selects (PGS), an intercept survey with 243 participants was conducted at the Philadelphia Flower Show on 6-7 Mar. 2003. Objectives were to better understand Pennsylvania consumer's: current gardening related shopping habits; where they obtain gardening information; and their motives and limitations for pursing gardening. Responses were analyzed to identify potential consumer segments who might purchase PGS plants. Participants with an income >$50,000 (55%) are more likely to gather their gardening information from a university website than those with an income <$50,000 (39%). Respondents with a college education (59%) reported that time was the limiting factor when gardening as compared to those with only a high school diploma (44%). Survey responses were also analyzed using Cluster Analysis, which generated three distinct consumer segments: “Novice Gardener” (consumers with limited experience in gardening), “Non-Gardener” (consumers who prefer not to garden), and “Avid Gardener” (consumers who spend the majority of their leisure time gardening). “Avid Gardeners” are likely to purchase plants evaluated for Pennsylvania (average response of 6.5; scale 1 to 7) and 73% have purchased Pennsylvania products. They also are more likely to purchase their landscape plant material at local nurseries/garden centers (82%) than the other segments (68%). Based on the results it can be assumed that “Avid Gardener” could be a potential market for PGS plants. A marketing strategy for reaching this audience may consist of promotions at local nurseries/garden centers along side other Pennsylvania-grown products.
Two separate studies using intercept survey methodology were conducted to define the components of a state plant promotional program—Pennsylvania Gardener Selects (PGS)—based on consumer preference and appeal. The first study, conducted 6 and 7 Mar. 2003 at the Philadelphia Flower Show in Philadelphia, Pa., involved 243 Pennsylvanians. Objectives were to define current gardening-related shopping habits, sources of gardening information, motives and limitations for pursuing gardening, and history of purchasing other Pennsylvania products. Responses were analyzed using cluster analysis to identify consumer–gardener segments that would potentially purchase PGS plants. Three distinct consumer segments were generated: “Novice Gardeners” (consumers with limited experience in gardening), “Casual Gardeners” (consumers with limited confidence in their gardening knowledge), and “Avid Gardeners” (consumers who express great interest in gardening). “Avid Gardeners” exhibited a greater level of interest in purchasing plants evaluated for Pennsylvania (average response, 6.5; based on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is very unlikely and 7 is very likely), with 73% indicating that they had purchased Pennsylvania products; hence, they were a potential market for PGS plants. The second study, conducted 8 to 10 Mar. 2004 at the Philadelphia Flower Show involved 250 Pennsylvanians. Objectives for this study were to define consumer brand and product preferences, including container colors for the PGS program, plant tag style/color, and retail price (based on a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is very unlikely to purchase and 7 is very likely to purchase), as well as brand attributes these consumers valued. Responses were analyzed using conjoint analysis. Participants awarded the highest utilities to the white container with a black-and-white PGS logo (0.1149), keystone-shaped tag with color image and PGS logo (0.1099), and a retail price of $1.98 (0.4751). Spearman's rho was used to identify relationships among existing and related brand attributes. Correlations between participants’ response to brand attributes, including locally grown, ideal for local conditions, quality assurance, and independent testing program, as well as plant guarantee and publication with gardening tips, suggest that promotional materials should emphasize and include these qualities. Results from these studies indicate that there is interest in a state plant promotional program for Pennsylvania. To use resources wisely, consumers classified as “Avid Gardeners” would be the most appropriate to target first. To attract consumer attention and encourage purchasing at a retail outlet, containers and plant tags should have distinctive colors, and brand attributes and resulting consumer benefits should be emphasized on promotional materials.