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This study quantifies the discounts and premiums associated with various quality factors for processing apples (Malus domestica Borkh.). Discounts and premiums were estimated using a hedonic price model and quality data from a total of 137 samples representing three processing apple cultivars (45 `York Imperial', 43 `Rome Beauty', and 49 `Golden Delicious'). Price discounts in the sample were statistically significant for fruit size, bruising, bitter pit, decay, misshapen apples, and internal breakdown. Commonly cited defects, such as insect damage and apple scab, did not cause significant price discounts.

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Higher education curricula should be alert to trends in production and science, and responsive to needs of producers and consumers in our society. A recent trend has emerged nationally and internationally for the production and consumption of certified organic produce which is increasing at a significant rate. Following the creation of the National Organic Program and formal federal regulations for certification which govern production, it has been questioned whether horticulture programs in land grant institutions have adjusted curricula appropriately to train producers, consultants, extension specialists, teachers and research scientists to be engaged in organic production systems. According to USDA statistics, several states in the southern region have significantly fewer certified organic farms and certifying agencies than the northeast, Midwest or western regions. A review horticulture and crops programs at 36 land grant universities (1862 and 1890) in 14 southern region states indicated although several institutions had research and outreach programs for sustainable and organic production, there were only three classes on organic gardening, two classes on organic crops production, and one field-based organic production course that could be identified in existing curricula. It appears that with the growth of the organic industry worldwide that students in programs in the southern region may be under-served in this educational area. Further, it may be questioned whether the lack of production and certifying agencies in the southern region is associated with the lack of science-based education provided by the land grant universities. A recent survey of faculty indicated a perceived need for stand-alone coursework on organic, sustainable, and ecologically-based production systems.

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During the initial season of implementation, four tomato production systems differing in soil management, pest control practices, and level of inputs, such as labor, materials, and management intensity were evaluated. These systems were CON, a low input (no mulch, no trellising, overhead irrigation, preplant fertilization, scheduled pest control), conventional agrichemical system; BLD, a high input [straw mulch, trellising, trickle irrigation, compost fertility amendment, integrated pest management (IPM)], ecologically-oriented system that emphasized the building up of soil organic matter levels and used no agrichemicals to supply fertility or for pest control; BLD+, a system similar to BLD, except that agrichemical pesticides were used; and ICM, a high input system (black polyethylene mulch, trellising, trickle irrigation, fertigation, IPM pest control) that used agrichemicals to supply fertility and for pest control. Soil characteristics and fertility levels in the BLD and BLD+ systems were modified with extensive amendments of spent mushroom compost and well-rotted cattle manure. Levels of agrichemical NPK calculated to meet current crop needs were supplied to the CON and ICM systems, with 75% of fertility in the ICM system supplied through the trickle irrigation lines (fertigation). The BLD system had a greater soil water holding capacity and sharply reduced irrigation requirements. During a wet period, fruit cracking and evidence of water-mold root rot were significantly higher in the ICM system than the BLD and CON systems. Defoliation by Alternaria solani was greatest in the BLD system and least in the ICM system. The BLD and ICM systems resulted in a 1 week earlier peak yield compared to the CON system. The yield of No. 1 fruit was 55% to 60% greater in the BLD+ system than the other three systems, which were comparable in yield. Net return was highest in the BLD+ system, although the benefit/cost ratio was greatest in the CON system. This multidisciplinary study has identified important differences in the performance of diverse production systems during the unique transitional season.

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