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  • Author or Editor: M. Hockenberry Meyer x
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Starch gel electrophoresis was used to screen 10 enzyme systems for variation in fountain grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng. plants exhibiting four different growth habits: dwarf(d), mound(m), prostrate(p), and upright (u). Only phosphoglucoisomerase (PGI; E.C. was found to be polymorphic at one locus, PGI-2, and was expressed as two alleles, which appeared to be associated with growth habit. The dwarf form expressed one slow band (SS), the mound and prostrate forms exhibited one fast band (FF), and the upright form carried triple bands indicating a heterodimer (FS). Hybrids between FF and SS parents were detected as triple bands (FS). Three generations of progeny resulting from 16 crosses and selfs of these growth habits all followed the expected segregation ratios for typical Mendelian inheritance of this isozyme.

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The Master Gardener (MG) program operates in conjunction with the cooperative extension service in most states. The training, management, and administration of these volunteers vary widely from state to state. This paper presents a 4-year analysis of the initial cost of training Minnesota MGs and their volunteer hours contributed to the Minnesota Extension Service. The average training cost was $89/person (based on the total number of volunteers certified 2 years after the training) with an average of 59 ($711 at $12/h) and 40 ($474) hours volunteered or paid back over the first and following years, respectively. In all years, hours volunteered exceeded program expectations of 50 hours the first year and 25 hours thereafter.

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We tested prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) using six different germination treatments and found the best results with cold (40 °F), dry storage followed by direct seeding into a commercial germination mix placed in a 75 °F glass-glazed greenhouse with intermittent mist (5 seconds of mist every 8 minutes), and 600-W high-pressure sodium lighting with a 16-hour daylength. We found commercial laboratory viability analysis from tetrazolium staining did not correspond to germination results. Cold (34 °F), moist (2.3 g seed moistened with 2.5 mL deionized water) treatment, also known as cold conditioning, produced significantly less germination and fewer transplantable seedlings, and is not recommended for prairie dropseed.

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The demand for native plants has been increasing as consumers exhibit stronger interest in sustainable gardening and landscaping. To determine whether point of sale (POS) displays increased consumer knowledge of native grass (Poaceae) benefits and affected consumer purchases, a marketing study was conducted over 2 years at five garden centers in Minnesota. A POS display poster and plant tags listing four benefits of native grasses were displayed at the garden centers in 2016 and 2017. We surveyed 341 consumers at these garden centers to understand consumer knowledge of native grasses and the influence of the POS display. Respondents totaled 84 (30.7%) who indicated they had bought a native grass that day, and of those 84, 54 (64.3%) had seen the display. The binary probit model estimates showed that seeing the POS display increased the likelihood of a native grass purchase. If a consumer had previously purchased a native grass, they were more likely to purchase a native grass again. Consumers who expressed a greater willingness to purchase native grasses based on their environmental benefits were more likely to purchase a native grass. However, neither the level of knowledge that consumers possessed about native grasses nor demographics significantly increased likelihood of purchase.

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Consumer horticulture encompasses interior and exterior ornamental, food, and community gardening. These activities influence the environment in many ways, affecting water quality and quantity, waste management, wildlife, and environmental sustainability. Consumer horticulture also impacts human health and well-being. In spite of keen consumer interest and the robust commercial impact, there is a paucity of support for consumer horticulture at both the state and federal levels. To explore strategies for increasing support for consumer horticulture, a workshop with four presentations was held at the annual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science on 31 July 2014 in Orlando, FL. Presentations described the formation of a new Southern Experiment Extension/Research Activity, Landscapes and Gardens for Better Living (SERA44); the local funding sources and local issues that focus research, education, and extension efforts in consumer horticulture; and the need to develop shared goals to drive regional projects. The need for a national strategic plan for consumer horticulture, and a process for creating one, was outlined. A strategic plan could galvanize the support of diverse stakeholders; focus research, education, and extension efforts; and build a strong case for resources dedicated to consumer horticulture.

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