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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 (, ). 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 (). 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

Previously published life cycle assessment (LCA) studies regarding the global warming potential (GWP) of tree production have shown that the carbon footprint during the cradle-to-grave life cycle of a tree can reduce atmospheric CO2. This study provides another unique contribution to the literature by considering other potential midpoint environmental impacts such as ozone depletion, smog, acidification, eutrophication, carcinogenic or non-carcinogenic human toxicity, respiratory effects, ecotoxicity, and fossil fuel depletion for 5-cm-caliper, field-grown, spade-dug trees. Findings from this study validate using data from various literature sources with a single-impact focus on GWP and compiled and calculated in a spreadsheet or using a LCA software package with embedded databases (SimaPro) to generate comparable GWP estimates. Therefore, it is appropriate to use SimaPro to generate midpoint environmental impact estimates in LCA studies of field-grown trees. The authors also compared the midpoint environmental impacts with other agricultural commodities [corn (Zea mays), soybean (Glycine max), potato (Solanum tuberosum), and wool] and determined that trees compare favorably, with the exception that fossil fuel depletion for the trees was greater than the other products as a result of the high equipment use in harvesting and handling trees. In addition, the water footprint (WF) associated with tree production is also determined through LCA using the Hoekstra water scarcity method in SimaPro. The propagation-to-gate WF for the three tree production systems ranged from 0.09 to 0.64 m3 per tree and was highly influenced by irrigation water, which was the major contributor to WF for each production system. As expected, the propagation stage of each tree represented significantly less WF than the field production phase with larger plants and lower planting densities, even with more frequent irrigation/misting in liner production.

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Charles R. Hall and Dewayne L. Ingram

This research uses a life cycle analysis and economic engineering approach to determine the costs and global warming potential (GWP) of production and post-production practices associated with Taxus ×media ‘Densiformis’, which is often grown using a more capital-intensive regime during the propagative and harvesting stages than the typical field-grown shrub. Total variable costs incurred during the rooted cutting stage were slightly over $0.24 per marketable rooted cutting. This was made up of $0.1966, $0.032, and $0.0127 for labor, materials, and equipment operating costs, respectively. The GWP of materials and equipment used during the rooted cutting stage of production was 0.0097 and 0.2762 kg CO2 equivalent (CO2e), respectively. Equipment costs in this phase were predominantly from heating the greenhouse (92%) and the greenhouse heating functions comprised 95% of the rooting cutting GWP. GWP during the post-farm gate stage was 2.4506 kg CO2e per marketable shrub but was offset by 12.5522 kg CO2 being sequestered in the shrub during its time in the landscape and weighted over the 100-year assessment period, leaving a net GWP of –8.1824 kg CO2e per marketable shrub by the end of the life cycle. Total takedown and disposal costs (labor) after an assumed 50-year life in the landscape were $9.0610. During the entire life cycle from cutting to landscape to takedown and disposal, total variable costs incurred were $17.9856 per shrub. These findings are consistent with previous studies in that the GWP is positive when considering the entire life cycle of the shrub from propagation to eventual removal from the landscape. Knowing the carbon footprint of production and distribution components of field-grown shrubs will help nursery managers understand the environmental costs associated with their respective systems and evaluate potential system modifications to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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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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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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Yanjun Guo, Terri Starman, and Charles Hall

This study analyzed the effects of two ranges of drying down of substrate moisture content (SMC) before re-watering on plant growth and development, postproduction quality, and economic value of bedding plants grown in 1.67-L containers during greenhouse production. The two SMC treatments were wide-range (WR) SMC (WR-SMC) for dry-down from container capacity (CC) of 54% SMC dried down to 20% SMC or narrow-range (NR) SMC (NR-SMC) for dry-down from CC of 54% SMC dried down to 40% SMC. Six bedding plant cultivars were used [Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘French Quarter’ (coleus); Petunia ×hybrida ‘Colorworks Pink Radiance’ (petunia); Lantana camara ‘Lucky Flame’ (lantana); Impatiens ×hybrida ‘Sunpatiens Compact Hot Coral’ (SCC); ‘Sunpatiens Spreading Lavender’ (SSL) (impatiens); and Salvia splendens ‘Red Hot Sally II’ (salvia)]. Shoot dry weight was reduced with WR-SMC on petunia, lantana, impatiens SCC, and salvia at the end of production. With WR-SMC, the petunia and impatiens SCC root ball coverage percentages were greater on the bottom of the container, whereas those of impatiens SSL and salvia were reduced. The WR-SMC increased petunia postproduction quality by increasing the flower number. Lantana and impatiens SCC inflorescence/flower and/or bud number were reduced with WR-SMC. The impatiens SSL flower number was unaffected by SMC treatment. Salvia grown with WR-SMC had increased postproduction quality. WR-SMC reduced postproduction water potential in petunia, lantana, and coleus, suggesting that plants with WR-SMC during production were acclimated to reduced irrigation administered during postproduction. WR-SMC saved labor due to less frequent watering and overhead-associated costs due to reduced bench space, with the exception of coleus and impatiens SSL, which used the same bench space as NR-SMC. Considering production and/or postproduction quality, using WR-SMC during greenhouse production is beneficial as an irrigation method for coleus, petunia, impatiens SSL, and salvia, but not for impatiens SCC or lantana grown in 1.67-L containers.

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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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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.