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Benedict Posadas

Using a socioeconomic database collected by face-to-face interviews of nurseries and greenhouses, empirical models were estimated to measure the economic impacts of mechanization or automation on annual gross sales, annual employment, and workers’ earnings, safety and retention. The survey was conducted among 215 randomly selected wholesale nurseries and greenhouses located in eight southern states from Dec. 2003 to Nov. 2009. The level of mechanization or automation (LOAM) observed among the participating wholesale nurseries and greenhouses averaged 20% of the major tasks performed by workers. Nurseries and greenhouses that reported greater annual gross sales demonstrated higher levels of mechanization, implying economies of scale associated with technology adoption by these wholesale horticulture production firms. The increase in total workers’ earnings associated with improved mechanization indicated that nurseries and greenhouses were able to pay their workers higher wages and salaries. The increased levels of mechanization produced neutral effects on employment and raised the value of the marginal productivity (VMP) of labor, implying that technology adoption by wholesale nurseries and greenhouses did not displace any worker but instead improved total workers’ earnings. Growers that reported higher levels of mechanization hired fewer new workers with basic horticultural skills, especially among horticultural firms which operated both nursery and greenhouse enterprises. The length of training period for basic horticultural skills was not influenced by the level of mechanization, but was significantly extended when nurseries or greenhouses hired more new workers without basic horticultural skills. The number of work-related injuries increased as a result of improvements in mechanization, which primarily consisted of back strains, cut fingers, shoulder and ankle strains, and eye injury. The workers’ retention impact (WRI) of the level of mechanization turned out to be neutral or indeterminate since almost all of their workers were with them during the past 2 years before conducting the interviews. Overall, advances in mechanization or automation generated enhancing effects on the annual gross sales of horticultural production firms, enabled them to retain and pay better wages for their workers, hired fewer new skilled workers, and reported more work-related injuries.

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Cecil Pounders, Donna Marshall, and Benedict Posadas

Surviving extremes of climate is a fundamental component of horticultural production and research. The Southern Horticultural Laboratory has weathered many storms including Hurricane Camille and now Hurricane Katrina. The name of the research station has changed twice, both times following massive hurricanes. Before Hurricane Camille in 1969, the station title was the Tung Research Unit. After the devastation of the tung industry by Camille, the research focus changed to blueberries and other small fruit crops with a corresponding name change to Small Fruit Research Unit in 1976. The research objectives expanded to include ornamental research in 2001. Post Hurricane Katrina, the unit was renamed the Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory to reflect the station's expanded research mission. This paper chronicles how the station reacted to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. It also evaluates economic vitality of commodities researched at the station in contrast with storm effects on pecan and the demise of tung production. Katrina produced some temporary interruptions in production but no drastic restructuring of the type experienced with tung production after Camille is anticipated. Hurricanes are inevitable for the Gulf Coast region. Wise planning and implementation of preventative measures to protect horticultural crops and research will determine future success.

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Benedict C. Posadas, Patricia R. Knight, Christine E.H. Coker, Randal Y. Coker, and Scott A. Langlois

This work describes workers’ socioeconomic characteristics and evaluates the determinants of workers hiring decisions among 215 randomly selected wholesale nurseries and greenhouses located in eight selected southern states in the United States. The participating nurseries and greenhouses employed on average 5.40 permanent workers per horticulture operation or 2.27 permanent workers per acre under cultivation. Participating nurseries and greenhouses hired an average 2.38 part-time workers per horticulture operation or 0.80 part-time workers per acre placed under production. Empirical models were estimated to determine the significant factors affecting hiring decisions by this industry. Hiring decision models covered age groups, racial backgrounds, formal education levels, and gender. Analysis of the decision-making process involving the employment of hired workers among the participating wholesale nurseries and greenhouses provided insights into the hiring decisions in the industry. The hiring decisions by demographic characteristics serve as benchmarks for assessing impacts of regulations affecting the industry in the near future. About 1.9% of all the establishments employed more than 50 permanent and part-time workers and 1.4% employed more than 50 permanent workers.

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Patricia R. Knight*, Christine E. Coker, Benedict Posadas, and John M. Anderson

The IR-4 program works to identify potential minor-use horticultural chemicals and evaluate them for phytotoxicity and efficacy. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate phytotoxicity and weed control of three unlabeled herbicides on field production of Hemerocallis spp. `Ming Toy'. Ten-cm pots of `Ming Toy' were planted into the field 16 July 2001. Each plot consisted of 3 plants per treatment with 6 replications in a completely random design. Each herbicide was analyzed as a separate experiment. Herbicide treatments consisted of clopyralid (0.14, 0.28, 0.56, or 1.1 kg·ha-1 a.i.), clethodim (125, 250, or 500 mL·L-1 a.i.), or bentazon (1.1, 2.2, or 4.4 kg·ha-1 a.i.). Data collected included weed number, percentage of weed coverage (% weed coverage), and phytotoxicity and foliar color ratings for `Ming Toy'. Clopyralid reduced total weed number 90 DAT although % weed coverage was similar or worse compared to the control treatment. Phytotoxicity 90 DAT was not significant for plants treated with clopyralid, but foliar color ratings were reduced. Application of clethodim to `Ming Toy' plots, regardless of rate, resulted in similar weed numbers compared to the control 49 DAT. Clethodim application, regardless of rate, reduced % weed coverage compared to the control treatment. Phytotoxicity 90 DAT was not significant, regardless of herbicide treatment, but foliar color ratings were lower for herbicide treated plants compared to the control. Bentazon, regardless of rate, reduced weed number and % weed coverage 49 DAT compared to the control. Phytotoxicity was similar to the control for plants treated with 1.1 kg·ha-1 a.i.

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Benedict C. Posadas, Christine H. Coker, Patricia R. Knight, and Glenn Fain

The objective of this survey was to determine the levels of liking and willingness to pay for selected garden chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflorum) cultivars, and to measure relative infl uence of socioeconomic characteristics on consumer preferences and valuations. The survey was conducted during the 2003 Fall Flower and Garden Fest at the Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs, Miss. Nine garden chrysanthemum cultivars were presented to 579 survey participants in three pot sizes. Respondents preferred `Mithra Maroon', `Venus Purple', `Amory Yellow White', `Adonis Purple', and `Road Runner Bronze' more than `Night Hawk Lemon', `Freya Salmon', `Amata Purple', and `Starlet Ivory'. Of the five preferred cultivars, however, respondents were willing to pay more for `Mithra Maroon', `Road Runner Bronze', and `Amory Yellow White'. Consumers of White or Caucasian origin liked the cultivars less and were willing to pay less for them as compared to other respondents who reported other racial origins, primarily Native Americans and African Americans. The levels of liking for the cultivars were similar for participants of different gender classification, but female respondents were willing to pay more for the cultivars. Respondents who previously bought chrysanthemums reported higher level of liking for the cultivars but were not willing to pay more for them. Participants who were interviewed on Saturday liked the cultivars more but were willing to pay less than those who were interviewed on Friday. Larger-sized households tended to like the cultivars less and were not willing to pay more for the cultivars. Respondents did not like the cultivars in larger-sized pots and were not willing to pay more for plants in larger-sized pots included in the survey.

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Benedict C. Posadas, Patricia R. Knight, Randal Y. Coker, Christine H. Coker, Scott A. Langlois, and Glenn Fain

Using results of a socioeconomic survey of nurseries and greenhouses, Tobit regression analysis was used to estimate empirical models to measure the socioeconomic impact of automation or mechanization on annual gross sales, annual employment, and workers' earnings, safety, and retention. The survey was conducted among 87 randomly selected nurseries and greenhouses located in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, from Dec. 2003 to Mar. 2005. About 20% of all the identified major tasks were performed by workers in nurseries and greenhouses with some form of mechanization or automation. Regression results showed that nurseries and greenhouses that experienced higher levels of sales also demonstrated higher levels of automation or mechanization. The employment impact of automation or mechanization was neutral, indicating that any improvement in automation or mechanization did not necessarily lead to a reduction, but instead to a more efficient use of labor by nurseries and greenhouses. Improvements in automation or mechanization resulted in higher total workers' earnings reported by participating nurseries and greenhouses. Further Tobit regression results showed that automation or mechanization had neutral effects on the length of training period, workers' safety, and retention rates and enabled nurseries and greenhouses to hire less-skilled workers.

Open access

Ronald C. Stephenson, Christine E.H. Coker, Benedict C. Posadas, Gary R. Bachman, Richard L. Harkess, John J. Adamczyk, and Patricia R. Knight

Due to difficulty in monitoring insect pests, applications of insecticides are frequently conducted on a calendar schedule. However, seasonal variability in pest populations leads to these calendar schedules sometimes being inaccurate. Threshold-based insect management strategies, including use of thresholds with conventional pesticides and with use of organic pesticides only, were compared with a conventional calendar approach for yield, management cost, and production value of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Effect of cultivar was considered by inclusion of the long season cultivar Celebrity and the short season cultivar Early Girl Bush. These factors were compared for spring and fall seasons during two production years. Greatest total and marketable yields were obtained from use of conventional pesticides according to action thresholds. Use of organic insecticides according to thresholds did not affect yields in comparison with a calendar-based approach. Proportion of fruit rated unmarketable was greater with use of organic insecticides due to reduced efficacy and residual of control. Production costs for the organic threshold-based approach were greater due to increased number of insecticide applications required. Gross margin for both conventional and organic threshold-based insect pest management was greater than for the conventional calendar method. Increased economic return for conventional threshold-based management was due to increased yields. Increase in return for organic threshold management was based on premiums received for organically grown tomatoes. Adoption of conventional threshold-based insect pest management by small-scale producers has the potential to increase production efficiency and value, as well as increase environmental sustainability of production. Economic feasibility of organic production requires access to markets willing to pay significant premiums for organic produce. Further research to evaluate economic and yield impacts of production practices for small-scale farms is needed.