Plant productivity is the end result of the interaction of the plant with its environment. Consequently, improvements in plant performance have occurred with manipulation of the environment to provide a more suitable milieu for growth. At the same time, the character of the plant has been changed to better exploit the improved surroundings. Together, and only together, can genetic and environmental improvements interact to manifest maximum plant productivity. Many of the accomplishments leading to improved efficiency and yields were reviewed by Cooke et al. (3) and Wittwer (8) and the potential future impact on yields was assessed by Howell (7).
Quality of horticultural crops is an extremely variable and perhaps nebulous characteristic. Quality may be easily expressed in physical terms such as size, color, or shape. Texture, food value, and keeping qualities, requiring more sophisticated determinations, are also critical components of quality. In some cases, quality may be a highly individual thing, varying from consumer to consumer. Furthermore, the expression of quality may be controlled by genetic capability as well as a host of environmental conditions.
The Citizen Ambassador Program was initiated in 1956 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded “People to People.” His vast perspective as a military and governmental leader led him to believe that individual citizens reaching out in friendship to the people of other nations could make a significant contribution to world understanding. From 14–28 Aug. 1998, ASHS took part in the “People-to People Mission to China.” Our delegation was composed of six ASHS Members and two guests. Delegates were from Canada and Brazil and the United States. After meeting in Los Angeles for a final briefing, the delegation departed for Hong Kong, where we immediately boarded a flight to Beijing. Our China experience began in Beijing, then on to Hangzhou, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. All of these locations are in the densely populated eastern portion of China. (China has approximately the same area as the United States, but it has 1.25 billion people compared to only 270 million in the U.S.) Our time at each location was about equally divided between professional and cultural activities. Our Chinese horticultural colleagues were enthusiastic and well-trained. As in the United States, the quality of the facilities and the equipment varied somewhat among locations. Operating funds, never sufficient for research and maintenance of facilities, commonly were supplemented by sale of horticultural products.