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Kathleen M. Kelley and Elsa S. Sánchez

Two separate consumer-marketing studies were conducted between 30 Oct. and 2 Dec. 2002 to determine consumer awareness and potential demand for edamame [Glycine max (L.) Merrill]. The first study consisted of a sensory evaluation that included 113 participants who tasted and rated three edamame cultivars based on firmness and overall appeal and then ranked the beans in order of preference at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus. To estimate demand, the participants answered questions regarding their likelihood to purchase edamame after the sensory evaluation. The second study, a telephone survey, was administered by a marketing firm to determine consumer awareness of edamame as well as their produce purchasing habits. Responses were collected from 401 consumers within the Metro-Philadelphia area. Consumer reaction to the sensory evaluation was positive, and after reading about the health benefits, a majority of consumers (92%) indicated they would likely purchase edamame and serve it in a meal whereas 89% gave this response after only sampling the edamame beans. When responses were compared among cultivars, overall liking for `Green Legend' (6.29; 1 = extremely dislike; 9 = like extremely) was significantly lower than for `Kenko' (6.84); however, neither cultivar was significantly different from `Early Hakucho' (6.62). Participants also rated `Kenko' as having a firmness that was `just about right'. Verbal comments from participants leaving the evaluation site included interest in purchasing edamame and inquiries as to where it could be purchased in the vicinity of the university. Telephone survey participants also expressed a willingness to purchase edamame and serve it in a meal after hearing about the potential health benefits (66%). Based on consumer responses to selected telephone survey questions, three distinct marketing segments were created. Potential purchasers (58% of participants), consisted of consumers who were more likely to consider the importance of the nutritional content of vegetables they purchased (73%), included the greatest percent of consumers who had purchased soy or soy-based products (70%), and were very likely (51%) and somewhat likely (46%) to eat edamame after learning about the health benefits. The second largest segment of participants characterized as unlikely edamame eaters (22% of participants) consisted of individuals who were very likely (20%) and somewhat likely (43%) to purchase vegetables they had never eaten before if evidence suggested that it might decrease the risk of cancer and/or other diseases. However, within this group, none of the participants were either very likely or somewhat likely to eat edamame after being told about the health benefits. The last group, characterized as requires convincing (20% of participants), consisted of individuals who were the least likely to base produce-purchasing decisions on the nutritional content of vegetables. After learning about health benefits specific to edamame, 8% of these participants were very likely and 48% were somewhat likely to eat edamame. Hence, separate marketing strategies may need to be developed to target these distinct segments based on interest in eating edamame, importance of nutritional information, and current vegetable purchasing habits.

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Jason M. Lilley and Elsa S. Sánchez

Plasticulture systems, the use of polyethylene mulch on raised beds with drip irrigation, are commonly used for the production of many cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) crops. Although the use of plasticulture systems has many benefits, disadvantages include plastic disposal issues and costs and the intensive tillage required for installation. Strip tillage systems have been shown to decrease soil erosion, increase soil moisture retention, and increase soil microbial communities. Spunbonded polyethylene rowcover use has been shown to decrease early season striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum) and spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata ) populations and the incidence of bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila) while increasing yields. Plasticulture and strip tillage systems were compared with and without rowcovers at The Pennsylvania State University’s Russell E. Larson Research and Education Center in Rock Springs, PA. Two separate organically managed experiments were conducted, one being on ‘Lioness’ summer squash (SS; Cucurbita pepo), the other on ‘Athena’ muskmelon (MM; Cucumis melo). Both two-season experiments occurred during the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons. Yields, soil nitrate levels, soil and air temperatures, striped cucumber beetle populations, and incidence of bacterial wilt were measured. Plants grown in the strip tillage system generally had lower yields than in the plasticulture system in both years. Yield reductions observed in the strip tillage system in both years of the muskmelon experiment and in the first year of the summer squash experiment were beyond acceptable levels. The need for specialized tillage equipment, delayed planting, and high weed pressure were all obstacles to the successful use of strip tillage in these experiments. Rowcovers resulted in larger plants; however, yields were comparable to not using rowcovers within the strip tillage and plasticulture systems. There was low incidence of bacterial wilt in both years of the experiments despite observed striped cucumber beetle populations above the set threshold throughout all experiments.

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Elsa S. Sánchez and Heather D. Karsten

Organic growers have indicated a need for help with the challenge of nutrient management. To address this challenge, an intensive training program for agricultural educators was convened to study this issue. Through the program, existing soil and compost analysis recommendations were modified to make them more relevant for organic growers; computer-based whole farm nutrient planning tools were evaluated using situations common to organic farms; and educational materials on using organic nutrient sources were developed for grower audiences. Educational workshops, presentations, and farm visits reached 714 growers and publications reached over 2575 people. Survey respondents of the intensive training program rated their ability to help organic growers with nutrient management as 3.50 before and 5.50 (7-point scale, with 7 = excellent) after the sessions. About 1 year later, all survey respondents rated their ability to help growers using organic nutrient sources as excellent or above average. Grower knowledge of using organic nutrient sources improved to 5.92 from 3.92 as a result of a workshop and to 5.62 from 3.89 (7-point scale, with 7 = excellent) after a 1-day class developed by intensive training participants. Methodology used allowed for expansion of individual and collective knowledge of a complicated topic and development of high impact, relevant, and effective educational programming for clientele.

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Dru N. Montri, Kathleen M. Kelley and Elsa S. Sánchez

Two studies were conducted to determine consumer interest in fresh, in-shell edamame [Glycine max (L.) Merrill] and acceptance of two edamame-based patties. An in-store consumer research study was conducted in metropolitan Philadelphia to determine consumer demand for and interest in fresh, in-shell edamame. In fall 2004, plastic clamshells of edamame were placed in the produce department of four supermarkets. Consumers who purchased the clamshells were asked to return a survey that was attached to the container. Of the 480 clamshells that were delivered to the four selected supermarkets, 312 (65.0%) were purchased and 33 (10.6%) of the surveys were returned. All respondents indicated that they had heard of or were familiar with edamame before purchasing the container, and 81.2% had previously purchased edamame. Results indicate that 51.6% of respondents were more likely to purchase the edamame because it was grown in Pennsylvania, and 84.4% were more likely to purchase it because it was grown without the use of pesticides. In addition, a friend's recommendation, price, and sample of the product at the supermarket were rated highest among factors likely to affect respondents' purchasing decisions regarding new produce items. Based on the total number of packages sold and conversations with produce department managers, there appears to be a demand for fresh, in-shell edamame among supermarket consumers in metropolitan Philadelphia. A second study involving a consumer sensory evaluation was conducted in Feb. 2005 to determine consumer acceptance of two edamame-based patties. A total of 209 adults were involved, with 106 participants sampling the edamame-based patties on the first day and 103 sampling on the second day. Participants were asked to rate the patty they sampled on overall appeal, appearance, and flavor on a scale of 1 to 9 points (1 point being “dislike extremely” and 9 points being “like extremely”). Overall mean liking for the two patties was 6.38 points and 6.58 points, and mean liking for flavor was 6.44 points and 6.83 points on days 1 and 2 respectively. Based on the sample evaluated, 43.4% and 35.9% of participants, each day, indicated that they “probably would buy” or “definitely would buy” this item from a supermarket. Results suggest that consumers found the two edamame-based patties acceptable, indicating the potential for commercial production. Across the two studies, consumers expressed interest in purchasing fresh, in-shell edamame and edamame-based patties from a supermarket.

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Dru N. Montri, Kathleen M. Kelley and Elsa S. Sánchez

An in-store marketing study was conducted in Fall 2004 to determine consumer demand for fresh, inshell edamame [Glycinemax (L.) Merrill]. Each Wednesday from 1 Sept. to 6 Oct. 2004, thirty 12-ounce plastic clamshells were placed in the produce department of four supermarkets in metro-Philadelphia, Pa. Packaged edamame remained in the supermarkets for 1 week and was replaced with fresh product when the next weekly delivery was made. A sample recipe, a follow-up survey and an addressed, postage-paid reply envelope were attached to the bottom of each clamshell. The survey was used to determine consumer perceptions, interest in Pennsylvania-grown edamame and the criteria they consider when choosing new produce items sold at supermarkets for themselves and their families. Of the 480 clamshells that were delivered, 312 were purchased. The total number of clamshells purchased weekly ranged from 64 to 87, while the number of clamshells purchased weekly at individual stores ranged from 6 to 30. Thirty-three surveys were returned with all participants responding that they had heard of or were familiar with edamame prior to purchasing the container. Of those who responded, 78.8% had purchased edamame before. Based on the total number of packages sold, a potential demand for fresh, inshell edamame exists among consumers in metro-Philadelphia. Results from this study will be used to assist small-acreage growers interested in marketing specialty vegetable crops, such as edamame, to chain supermarkets. By understanding consumer interests, we are able to more effectively determine which type of packaging and promotional materials best attract the attention of potential buyers.

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Dru N. Montri, Kathleen M. Kelley and Elsa S. Sánchez

A sensory evaluation was conducted on 9–10 Feb. 2005 at The Pennsylvania State University, University Park campus, to determine consumer acceptance of two edamame [Glycinemax (L.) Merrill] -based patties. This value-added product was chosen because of the increasing popularity of vegetable-based burgers. Patties were mainly composed of edamame, mushrooms, and onion; however, they differed, based on the type of mushroom and seasonings used and the addition of walnuts to one of the recipes. One type of patty was evaluated each day with participants rating it on overall appeal, flavor, appearance, and texture. A total of 209 consumers participated in the 2-day sensory evaluation, 106 on the first day and 103 on the second; and 23.6% and 25.2%, respectively, were familiar with or had heard of edamame before. Overall mean liking for the patties was 6.38 and 6.58 (1 being dislike extremely and 9 being like extremely) and mean liking for flavor was 6.44 and 6.83, respectively. Based on the sample, 43.4% and 35.9% of participants each day indicated that they “probably would buy” or “definitely would buy” this item from a supermarket. Consumers also ranked select product characteristics that influence their decision to purchase new food items in terms of importance. Results were similar for both days with flavor, nutritional value, and price ranked as the three most important factors that influence their purchasing deci-sions. Verbal comments from participants indicated a strong interest in purchasing this product. Results suggested that consumers found the two edamame-based patties acceptable. Small-acreage growers could consider marketing edamame for use in value-added products such as these.

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Elsa S. Sánchez, Ermita Hernández, Mark L. Gleason, Jean C. Batzer, Mark A. Williams, Timothy Coolong and Ricardo Bessin

The goal of this study was to develop a systems-based strategy for organic muskmelon (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus) in Pennsylvania (PA), Iowa (IA), and Kentucky (KY) to manage bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila) and nutrients while safeguarding yield and enhancing early harvest. Spunbond polypropylene rowcovers deployed for different timings during the growing season were evaluated for suppressing bacterial wilt and locally available compost was applied based on two different estimated rates of mineralization of organic nitrogen (N) to manage nutrients. In KY only, the use of rowcovers suppressed bacterial wilt incidence compared with not using rowcovers. However, the timing of rowcover removal did not impact wilt incidence. Under lower cucumber beetle [striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum) and spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi)] pressure in PA and IA, rowcovers did not consistently suppress season-long incidence of bacterial wilt. In four of five site-years in PA and IA, more marketable fruit were produced when rowcovers were removed 10 days after an action threshold (the date the first flower opened in PA; the date when ≥50% of plants in a subplot had developed perfect flowers in IA and KY) than when no 10-day delay was made or when no rowcovers were used. In addition, the no-rowcover treatment consistently had lower weight per marketable fruit. In KY, the same action threshold without the 10-day delay, followed by insecticide applications, resulted in the largest number of marketable fruit, but did not affect marketable fruit weight. In PA, marketable yield was higher using compost compared with the organic fertilizer in 1 year. No yield differences were observed by nutrient treatments in 2 years. In IA, marketable yield was lower with the low amount of compost compared with the organic fertilizer and yields with the high amount of compost were not different from the low amount or the organic fertilizer in the year it was evaluated. In KY, marketable yield was unaffected by the nutrient treatments in the year it was evaluated. Given these results, muskmelon growers in PA, IA, and KY who use compost may choose the lower compost rate to minimize production costs. Overall, these findings suggest that rowcover-based strategies for organic management of bacterial wilt need to be optimized on a regional basis, and that fertilization with compost is compatible with these strategies.

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Thomas M. Butzler, Elsa S. Sánchez, Steven M. Bogash, Timothy E. Elkner, William J. Lamont Jr., Robert Pollock and Lee J. Stivers

To provide growers with regional and statewide recommendations, 23 cultivars of bicolor and white synergistic sweet corn (Zea mays) were evaluated in southwestern, central, and southeastern Pennsylvania. ‘Temptation’ was the standard. Despite differing production practices used in all locations, all cultivars were not different or produced more marketable primary ears compared with Temptation. Paydirt was the only cultivar to produce lower marketable yields by weight than Temptation in 2 site years or more. However, ‘Paydirt’ has an early maturity, which improves its acceptability. Very few ears were unmarketable. In terms of ear size, measured as diameter and length, overall all cultivars were not different from Temptation. ‘Temptation’ is early maturing and ear size was expected to be smaller than later maturing cultivars. This was not observed. Ease of hand harvesting was determined by measuring two factors: distance from the base of the primary ear to the soil line and ease of picking (1–5 rating scale where 1 = difficult and 5 = easy). The closer the primary ear was to the soil line was thought to be more difficult to harvest. ‘Synergy’, ‘Espresso’, ‘Kristine’, and ‘Paydirt’ ears were lower than ‘Temptation’ on the culm in 2 site years or more. ‘Whiteout’, ‘Synergy’, and ‘Mattapoisett’ were rated as more difficult to pick than ‘Temptation’ in 2 site years or more. Distance from the soil line to the primary ear and picking ease ratings were not observed to be closely related to each other and a combination of these and other factors may more accurately reflect the ease of hand harvesting. Overall, growers in our region have access to a lot of synergistic sweet corn cultivars with acceptable yield, quality, and ease of hand harvesting characteristics giving them a wide range of options.

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Elsa S. Sánchez, Thomas M. Butzler, Lee J. Stivers, Timothy E. Elkner, Steven M. Bogash, R. Eric Oesterling and Michael D. Orzolek

Butternut, acorn, and buttercup/kabocha winter squash (Cucurbita sp.) cultivars were evaluated in a conventional system in central, southeastern, and southwestern Pennsylvania in 2010–11. Results from individual locations were used to create statewide recommendations, which are also relevant for the mid-Atlantic U.S. region. Additionally, butternut and acorn cultivars were evaluated in an organic system in central Pennsylvania. In a conventional system, butternut cultivars JWS6823, Betternut 401, Quantum, and Metro are recommended based on equal or higher marketable yield than the standard Waltham Butternut. Acorn squash cultivars that performed equally to or better than the standard, Tay Belle, were Table Star, Harlequin, and Autumn Delight. In the kabocha/buttercup category, ‘Sweet Mama’ and ‘Red Kuri’ had marketable yields not different from the standard ‘Sunshine’ in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. In the organic system, butternut cultivars JWS6823, Betternut 401, and Metro all had marketable yields not different from the standard Waltham Butternut. For acorn cultivars, Celebration yield did not differ from the standard Table Queen.

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Elsa S. Sánchez, Thomas M. Butzler, Steven M. Bogash, Timothy E. Elkner, R. Eric Oesterling, Michael D. Orzolek and Lee J. Stivers

Sixteen cultivars of green bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) were evaluated on the basis of yield in three locations across Pennsylvania during the growing seasons of 2008–09. Cultivars were evaluated in comparison with the cultivar Paladin. In central Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed had marketable yields (based on weight) not different than ‘Paladin’ except ‘Lynx’, ‘Socrates’, and ‘Escape’. In terms of fruit number, all cultivars were not different than ‘Paladin’ except ‘Socrates’. For large-sized fruit, all the cultivars trialed are recommended. In southeastern Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed except SP-05–47 had marketable yields not different than ‘Paladin’. For large-sized fruit, ‘Revolution’ outperformed all other cultivars, including ‘Paladin’. In southwestern Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed except Lynx and SP-05–47 produced comparable marketable yields to ‘Paladin’. None of the cultivars evaluated, including Paladin, consistently outperformed Revolution in terms of large fruit. Statewide, all the cultivars, except Lynx and SP-05–47, are recommended on the basis of marketable yields. For growers looking for large-sized fruit to meet market demand the cultivar Revolution is recommended over ‘Paladin’.