Young consumers value healthy foods and are willing to pay for them. As young consumers transition into higher paying jobs, their influence in the food system will compound. This study used a convenient sample of university students to understand how young consumers value attributes for fresh produce. With the proliferation of food labels, this study takes a step back to identify four consumer segments with regard to their values on explicit (i.e., organic and local) and implicit (i.e., small-family farms and sustainable) attributes: committed, farm-to-fork, unattached, and skeptic. The study also investigated the impact of personal motives on cluster membership. Although committed consumers placed high value on all attributes, farm-to-fork consumers valued local, sustainable, and small-family farm systems, but did not have positive valuation toward organic. Our findings suggest increasing access to local foods and farmers market patronage is likely to increase consumers’ valuing foods with local, organic, sustainable, and small-family farms attributes.
Ariana P. Torres and Roberto G. Lopez
Current market trends indicate an increasing demand for unique and exotic flowering crops, including tropical plants. Tecoma stans (L. Juss. Kunth) ‘Mayan Gold’ is a tropical plant that was selected as a potential new greenhouse crop for its physical appearance and drought and heat tolerance. However, in winter and early spring, when propagation occurs, outdoor photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) can be relatively low. The objective of this study was to quantify the effects of DLI during propagation of Tecoma and to determine optimum DLI levels for seed propagation. Seeds were propagated under 13 mean DLIs ranging from 0.75 to 25.2 mol·m−2·d−1 created by the combination of high-pressure sodium lamps (HPS) and fixed woven shadecloths of varying densities. Thirty-five days after sowing, height, stem diameter, node number, relative leaf chlorophyll content, leaf fresh weight, leaf number, total leaf area, individual leaf area, leaf area ratio, shoot and root dry mass increased as DLI increased. Average internode elongation and specific leaf area decreased at a quadratic and linear rate, respectively, as DLI increased from 0.75 to 25.2 mol·m−2·d−1. These experiments indicate that high-quality Tecoma seedlings were obtained when DLI was 14 to 16 mol·m−2·d−1 during propagation.
Ariana P. Torres and Roberto G. Lopez
Tecoma stans (L. Juss. Kunth) ‘Mayan Gold’ is a tropical flowering plant that was selected as a potential new greenhouse crop for its physical appearance and drought and heat tolerance. The objective of this study was to quantify how temperature during the finishing stage and photoperiod during propagation and finishing stages influence growth, flowering, and quality. In Expt. 1, plants were propagated from seed under four photoperiods (9, 12, 14, or 16 h) for 35 days. Under long-day (LD) photoperiods (14 h or greater), seedlings were 3.0 to 3.7 cm taller than those propagated under 9-h photoperiods. During the finishing stage, days to first open flower, shoot dry mass, and number of nodes below the terminal inflorescence were reduced when plants were grown under LD photoperiods. In addition, number of open flowers and branches increased under LD photoperiods. Few plants developed visible buds when grown under short-day (SD) photoperiods (12 h or less). In Expt. 2, plants were forced at average daily temperatures of 19, 20, or 22 °C after transplant. Time to first open flower was reduced by 7 days as temperature increased. Inversely, number of visible buds increased by 57 as temperature increased from 19 to 22 °C. Under the experimental conditions tested, the most rapid, complete, and uniform flowering of Tecoma occurred when plants were propagated and finished under LD photoperiods and forced at 22 °C.
Ariana P. Torres and Maria I. Marshall
Little is known about the drivers of organic decertification and it is unclear what production practices farmers adopt after decertification. This article investigated how farm demographics and characteristics, sources of information, and perceptions influence a farmer’s decision to decertify. The data for this article were from a 2012 web-based survey of fruit and vegetable farmers that were part of the Food Industry MarketMaker database. We used a robust probit regression to identify the drivers of organic decertification of fruit and vegetable farmers in the U.S. Demographics; farm’s characteristics, sources of information, and farmer’s perceptions were key factors influencing the decision to decertify. Finding useful information from price reporting services and certifiers decreased the probability to decertify. On the other hand, farmers located in the Midwest, those selling vegetables, and those perceiving the organic certification process as a barrier were more likely to decertify.
Ariana Torres, Petrus Langenhoven, and Bridget K. Behe
The domestic market for melons, Cucumis melo L., has not been well characterized. The 2011 cantaloupe-related foodborne illness outbreak reduced melon production by 32%, and per capita consumption of cantaloupe and honeydew melons has not recovered. Our objective was to profile and characterize consumer segments of individuals who purchased melons in the 3 months before the survey. Responses from 1718 participants were analyzed by consumption volume and subjected to cluster analysis based on importance of melon attributes. Heavy and moderate consumers preferred local melons over imported. The top four melon attributes were flavor, freshness, ripeness, and sweetness. As consumption increased, consumers placed more importance for their diets. The heaviest consumption group accounted for 22% of the market, and consumed nearly three times the melon servings per month compared with the moderate consumer, and nearly 10 times the servings of the light consumption group. Cluster analysis produced three distinct clusters. Cluster 1 was the most promelon in attitudes and consumption, as well as general health interest, craving sweet food, food pleasure, and variety seeking in foods. The largest segment was cluster 3 and was the ideal group for future targeting of marketing and advertising campaigns for increasing the melon market share with their intermediate consumption and promelon attitudes. Last, members of cluster 2 consumed the lowest amount of melons, spent the least on melons, and traveled the fewest number of miles to purchase them, relative to the other two segments.
Ariana P. Torres, Michael V. Mickelbart, and Roberto G. Lopez
Well-established protocols exist for using the pour-through extraction method to estimate substrate pH and electrical conductivity (EC) values for small root volumes. However, little work has been done to test the accuracy and consistency of these measurements in large containers. Our objective was to determine if the amount of distilled water applied to #1, #3, #5, and #10 (2-, 8-, 11-, and 27-L media volume, respectively) containers would affect leachate pH and EC values or consistency of measurements. Boxwood (Buxus ×koreana ‘Green Velvet’) was selected for this study because it is a common container-grown nursery crop. Distilled water was poured evenly over the media surface in each container 1 h after irrigation to obtain a leachate volume of either 50 mL or 2.5% of media volume and leachate EC and pH were measured. Media pH values were 0.1 to 0.3 points higher when 50 mL leachate was collected, but the difference was only significant during the first 2 weeks of measurements. There were no consistent differences in pH over container sizes or leachate volume. Leachate EC values were similar when measured in leachate collected as 50 mL total volume or 2.5% of media volume in 8- and 11-L containers. However, in 27-L containers, obtaining 50 mL leachate resulted in higher EC values than when 2.5% media volume was obtained. Both pH and EC values obtained from 50-mL leachate fractions over container sizes were more consistent than when 2.5% of the media volume was collected. Growers should collect 50 mL of leachate to test media pH and EC regardless of container size.
Ariana Torres, Susan S. Barton, and Bridget K. Behe
Little information has been published on the business and marketing practices of landscape firms, an important sector of the green industry. We sought to profile the product mix, advertising, marketing, and other business practices of United States landscape firms and compare them by business type (landscape only, landscape/retail, and landscape/retail/grower) as well as by firm size. We sent the 2014 Trade Flows and Marketing survey to a wide selection of green industry businesses across the country and for the first time included landscape businesses. Herbaceous perennials, shade trees, deciduous shrubs, and flowering bedding plants together accounted for half of all landscape sales; 3/4 of all products were sold in containers. However, landscape only firms sold a higher percentage of deciduous shrubs compared with landscape/retail/grower firms. Landscape businesses diversified their sales methods as they diversified their businesses to include production and retail functions. Landscape businesses spent, on average, 5.6% of sales on advertising, yet large landscape companies spent two to three times the percentage of sales on advertising compared with small- and medium-sized firms. Advertising as a percent of sales was three to four times higher for landscape/retail/grower compared with landscape only or landscape/retail firms; most respondents used Internet advertising as their primary method of advertising. The top three factors influencing price establishment in landscape businesses were plant grade, market demand, and uniqueness of plants, whereas inflation was ranked as the least important of the nine factors provided. A higher percentage of small and medium-sized firms perceived last year’s prices as more important in price establishment compared with large firms. A high percentage of large landscape companies said the ability to hire competent hourly employees was an important factor in business growth and management, but this was true only for about half of the small and medium-sized landscape companies.
Christopher J. Currey, Diane M. Camberato, Ariana P. Torres, and Roberto G. Lopez
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.
Ariana P. Torres, Susan S. Barton, and Bridget K. Behe
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.
Orlando F. Rodriguez Izaba, Wenjing Guan, and Ariana P. Torres
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is one of the most important vegetables produced and consumed in the United States. In the midwestern United States, a major obstacle to spring cucumber production is low soil temperatures during plant establishment. High tunnel is a popular tool for season extension of vegetable production. Low soil temperature is a challenge for cucumber production even inside high tunnels. Grafting is a cultural practice known to help control soilborne diseases and improve plants’ tolerance to abiotic stresses. Recent studies found that using grafted cucumber plants with cold-tolerant rootstocks greatly benefited early-season seedless cucumber production in high tunnels. The objective of this study was to analyze the economic feasibility of growing grafted cucumber in high tunnels. A comparison of partial costs and returns between growing grafted and nongrafted cucumbers in a high tunnel in Vincennes, IN, was conducted. Data were used to develop a partial budget analysis and sensitivity tests. Data included production costs, marketable yield, and price of cucumber through different market channels. This study provided a baseline reference for growers interested in grafting seedless cucumber and for high tunnel production. Although costs of grafted transplants were higher, their yield and potential revenue helped to offset the higher costs. Results indicated that grafting can help farmers increase net returns through the increasing yield of grafted plants. Results from the sensitivity analysis illustrated how the increased yield of grafted cucumbers offsets the extra cost incurred in the technique while providing a higher revenue. While actual production costs for individual farmers may vary, our findings suggested that grafting can be an economically feasible tool for high tunnel seedless cucumber production.