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Chengyan Yue and Charles Hall

Little research has been conducted that comprehensively studies consumers' choices of cut flowers at different occasions and for different gift recipients and how they associate different meanings with various types of cut flowers. Therefore, this article attempts to fill this gap in the literature. Using data collected by the Ipsos-National Panel Diary Group for the American Floral Endowment, we determine how the purchases of both traditional and specialty cut flowers have been changing over time and how characteristics of gift purchasers and gift recipients affect consumers' choice of different types of cut flowers. The data include consumers in 48 states and Washington, DC, whose floral purchases were tracked monthly for 14 years. Findings of this analysis confirm that floral purchases have been changing over time. In addition, the underlying drivers of floral purchases are dependent on the floral-buying occasion and the motivations underlying gift giving. These factors also influence the choice of which flowers to purchase along with the sentiment and/or symbolic meaning associated with each flower type.

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Charles R. Hall

The green industry complex includes input suppliers (manufacturers and distributors); production firms such as nursery, greenhouse, and sod growers; wholesale distribution firms including importers, brokers, re-wholesalers, and transporters; horticultural service firms providing landscape and urban forestry services such as design, installation, and maintenance; and retail operations including independent garden centers, florists, home improvement centers, and lawn/garden departments at home centers, mass merchandisers, or other chain stores. Many current economic trends and driving forces point to the fact that the green industry is in a period of hypercompetitive rivalry due to the maturing consumer demand. A number of firms have already been forced out of the green industry during the 2008–09 recessionary shakeout period and others continue to exit. To address this issue, a workshop was organized by G. Zinati for the 2009 ASHS annual meeting entitled “Managing and Thriving in Tough Times, When Every Dime Counts!”, which was sponsored by the Nursery Crops (NUR) and Marketing and Economics (MKEC) Working Groups and the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA). This lead-off workshop presentation: 1) provided an overview of current economic conditions and trends and their influence on the green industry, 2) discussed supply-side methods and technologies for controlling costs during an economic downturn, and 3) addressed proactive demand-side differentiation and pricing strategies that will not only help ensure survival, but will also better position green industry firms for competing profitably in this period of hypercompetition.

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Charles R. Hall and Dewayne Ingram

University researchers have recently quantified the value of carbon sequestration provided by landscape trees (Ingram, 2012, 2013). However, no study to date has captured the economic costs of component horticultural systems while conducting a life cycle assessment of any green industry product. This study attempts to fill that void. The nursery production system modeled in this study was a field-grown, 5-cm (2-in) caliper Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ in the Lower Midwest. Partial budgeting modeling procedures were also used to measure the sensitivity of related costs and potential benefits associated with short-run changes in cultural practices in the production systems analyzed (e.g., transport distance, post-harvest activities, fertilization rates, and plant mortality). Total variable costs for the seedling and liner stages combined amounted to $2.93 per liner, including $1.92 per liner for labor, $0.73 for materials, and $0.27 per liner for equipment use. The global warming potential (GWP) associated with the seedling and liner stages combined included 0.3123 kg of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) for materials and 0.2228 kg CO2e for equipment use. Total farm-gate variable costs (the seedling, liner, and field production phases combined) amounted to $37.74 per marketable tree, comprised of $9.90 for labor, $21.11 for materials, and $6.73 for equipment use, respectively. However, post-harvest costs (e.g., transportation, transplanting, take-down, and disposal costs) added another $33.78 in labor costs and $27.08 in equipment costs to the farm-gate cost, yielding a total cost from seedling to end of tree life of $98.60. Of this, $43.68 was spent on labor, $21.11 spent on materials, and $33.81 spent on equipment use during the life cycle of each marketable tree. As per an earlier study, the life cycle GWP of the described redbud tree, including greenhouse gas emissions during production, transport, transplanting, take-down, and disposal, would be a negative 63 kg CO2e (Ingram et al., 2013). These combined data can be used to communicate to the consuming public the true (positive) value of trees in the landscape.

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Dewayne L. Ingram and Charles R. Hall

The objective of this study was to examine the differences in global warming potential (GWP) and variable cost structure of a 5-cm-caliper red maple tree grown using two alternative production methods including a traditional field [balled and burlapped (BNB)] production system and a containerized, pot-in-pot (PIP) production system. Feedback from nursery growers was obtained to model each production system including the labor required for each cultural practice, materials used, and the hourly usage of tractors and other equipment. Findings from the study indicate that the total system GWP and variable cost for the PIP tree system is −671.42 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and $250.76, respectively, meaning that the tree sequesters much more carbon during its life than is emitted during its entire life cycle. The same holds true for the BNB tree; however, in this system, the GWP of the tree −666.15 kg CO2e during its life cycle at a total variable cost of $236.13. Thus, the BNB tree costs slightly less to produce than its PIP counterpart but the life cycle GWP is slightly less positive as well.

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William Klingeman, Charles Hall and Beth Babbit

Though genetically modified (GM) ornamental cut flowers are already available commercially, U.S. academics and Green Industry growers have not assessed consumer perception about GM ornamental plants for landscape use. Because we must make inferences from studies of GM foods, we risk misunderstanding and alienating stakeholders and clients. If we misjudge the end-user, we jeopardize the market for future GM ornamental plant introductions. To address this gap, we surveyed Tennessee Master Gardener Volunteers in 2004. Respondents (n = 607) revealed that concern and belief about GM ornamental plants parallel U.S. expectation about GM foods. Average Master Gardener volunteer responses predict that GM ornamental plants would provide only slight benefits to both the environment and human health once used in the landscape. Compared with non-GM plants, GM ornamental plants are expected to be about the same or less invasive in the landscape. While all types of GM ornamental plants were expected to provide slight benefits, plant types were perceived differently with male respondents expecting perennials to yield the most environmental benefits and females indicating grasses and turf. Men and women also differed in their relative acceptance of GM ornamental plants, if genes were added from different types of organisms to achieve a genetic transformation of an ornamental shrub. Our results suggest that academic outreach and Green Industry marketing to promote new GM plant products should emphasize attributes of benefit, rather than GM transformation processes. Regardless, about 73% of TN Master Gardener respondents reported interest in buying GM ornamental plants if sold commercially, but the majority advocated a requirement for GM plant product labeling at point-of-sale.

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Benjamin L. Campbell and Charles R. Hall

Data from the 2004 National Nursery Survey conducted by the USDA-CSREES S-1021 Multistate Research Committee (referred to as the Green Industry Research Consortium) were used to evaluate the effect of pricing influences and selling characteristics on total gross firm sales and gross sales of several plant categories (trees, roses, shrubs/azaleas, herbaceous perennials, bedding plants, foliage, and potted flowering plants) for commercial nurseries and greenhouses. As expected, the firm's selling characteristics play a large role in whether a firm sells a specific plant category. Demand factors also play a role in affecting plant category sales with income, population, and race tending to be the only significant variables, except for the potted flowering plants category. In regard to sales, our results show that certain factors affecting pricing decisions play a critical role in both plant category sales and total sales. Furthermore, demand and business characteristics play a limited role as well, but not as big a role as selling characteristics. Of note is that firms with an increased percentage of sales through wholesale channels (of most plant categories and overall) result in increased sales. By understanding the nursery and greenhouse industry environment and how decisions affect overall and categorical sales, firms can implement strategies that capitalize on factors that have the potential to generate increased sales.

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William Klingeman, Beth Babbit and Charles Hall

Although genetically modified (GM) ornamental cut flowers are now available commercially, we have no knowledge of consumer perception about GM ornamental plants for landscape use and must make inferences from models drawn for GM foods. If we misjudge the customer, and consumers object to GM ornamental plant products for moral reasons, governmental or scientific mistrust, or limited understanding about GM technology, the market for GM ornamental plant commodities will fail. A survey of Master Gardener volunteers was conducted in 2004 to address this gap. Although Master Gardener perceptions likely differ from those of general U.S. consumers, responses are expected provide insight about beliefs applicable to the gardening public. Results from 607 Tennessee respondents revealed that concerns about GM ornamental plants parallel those expressed in the United States about GM foods. On average, Master Gardeners anticipate slight benefits to both the environment and human health should GM ornamental plants be introduced into the landscape. Male respondents chose perennials to provide the most environmental benefits, whereas females indicated grasses and turf. Genetically modified ornamental plants are also expected to be about the same or less invasive in the landscape than non-GM plants. Of respondents who anticipated more potential for GM ornamental plant invasiveness, women were more likely than men to predict plant escape. Men and women differed in relative acceptance of genes added from different organisms as a method of achieving genetic transformations in plants. This result suggests that outreach and marketing to promote new GM plant products should emphasize attributes of benefit rather than processes used to accomplish the goal. Regardless, although ≈73% of TN Master Gardener respondents reported interest in buying GM ornamental plants if sold commercially, participants advocated a requirement that GM plant products be clearly labeled at point-of-sale.

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Yanjun Guo, Terri Starman and Charles Hall

Retail environments are rarely optimal for ornamental plants, and wilting caused by water stress is a major cause of postproduction shrinkage. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of two levels of substrate moisture content (SMC) applied during greenhouse production on angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) ‘Angelface Blue’ and heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) ‘Simply Scentsational’ growth and physiological parameters and subsequent postproduction quality during simulated retail conditions. At the end of production, angelonia total plant shoot dry weight (DW) was reduced with 20% SMC compared with 40% SMC, and plants grown with 20% SMC had higher shoot coloring percentage, reduced internode length, and required less irrigation labor–related costs compared with 40% SMC. Heliotrope grown at 20% SMC produced the same size plant as 40% SMC, but had a higher shoot coloring percentage at the end of production and postproduction, indicating lower SMC resulted in higher visual quality compared with 40% SMC. For both species, 20% SMC increased plant visual quality compared with 40% SMC and reduced irrigation water input throughout production, resulting in reduced production costs and increased floral crop economic value.

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Xiaofang Guo, Chengyan Yue and Charles R. Hall

Literature on the domestic trade of nursery crops is sparse. Based on national survey data collected in years 1999, 2004, and 2009, we used augmented gravity models to investigate the primary factors affecting the value of trade for both large and small nurseries. We found that the impact of distance on trade value was different between large nurseries and small nurseries; the impact of distance on national nursery trade has been decreasing over time; and the level of impact of distance on nursery trade differs across regions. Additionally, the value of nursery trade was affected by plant types the nurseries produced and other business characteristics.

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Yanjun Guo, Terri Starman and Charles Hall

The objective was to determine the effect of substrate moisture content (SMC) during poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) greenhouse production on plant quality, postproduction longevity, and economic value. Two experiments were conducted, one in 2016 with ‘Freedom Red’ and the other in 2017 with ‘Christmas Eve Red’. Treatments included two SMC levels (20% or 40%) applied in four timing of application combinations. Total production (TP) time was 14 (2016) or 12 (2017) weeks in which vegetative production (VP) occurred from week 33 (2016) or 35 (2017) to week 39 and reproductive production (RP) continued from week 40 to 47. The four timing of application treatments were 40/40 = TP at 40% SMC; 20/40 = VP at 20% + RP at 40%; 40/20 = VP at 40% + RP at 20%; 20/20 = TP at 20% SMC. After simulated shipping in the dark, plants were evaluated in a simulated retail environment with two packaging treatments: no sleeve covering or plastic perforated plant sleeves covering container and plant. At the end of greenhouse production, plants grown in 20% SMC during RP (20/20 and 40/20) had shorter bract internode length, stem length, and smaller growth index (GI), decreased shoot and root dry weight (DW), and bract and leaf surface area compared with those in 40% SMC during RP (40/40 and 20/40). Photosynthetic rate was higher when plants were watered at 40% SMC regardless of production stage compared with those in 20% SMC. Leaf thickness, petiole thickness, total bract and leaf number were unaffected by SMC treatments. Plants in 20% SMC during RP (20/20 or 40/20) had earlier bract coloring despite days to anthesis being the same for all SMC treatments. Compared with 40/40, 40/20, and 20/20 could save 44.2% or 43.6%, respectively, irrigation and fertilizer usage, and 39.1% and 47.8%, respectively, labor time. During postharvest, ethylene concentration was unaffected by packaging method. Sleeved plants, regardless of SMC treatment, received lower light intensity in the middle of the plant canopy, causing plants to have lower total leaf number due to abscission and SPAD reading at the end of postproduction. The 40/40 treatment abscised more bracts during five weeks (in 2016) of postproduction and with no sleeve had higher number of bracts with bract edge burn (BEB). In summary, reducing SMC to 20% during TP or RP reduced water usage during production and produced more compact plants with increased postproduction quality.