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Alba J. Collart, Marco A. Palma, and Charles R. Hall

The environmental horticulture industry, also known as the Green Industry, is the second most important sector in the U.S. agricultural economy in terms of economic output and one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture; however, it has shifted from an average annual growth of 13.6% in the 1970s to an annual growth of less than 3% in the 2000s, which suggests the industry is facing a maturing marketplace. As an effort to help the industry stimulate demand, Texas A&M AgriLife developed the Texas Superstar™ and Earth-Kind™ brands. The aims of these plant promotion programs are to increase the demand for selected horticultural products, raise awareness among consumers of Texas-grown plant material, promote environmental responsibility, and increase producers' profitability by providing branding price premiums. Despite the considerable investments on research and marketing done thus far, no research has investigated the effectiveness of these branding efforts in terms of consumer behavior. This article evaluates brand awareness and willingness-to-pay for these two brands in Texas. The discrete choice models used were the Logit and Probit models on brand awareness and the Tobit model on the conditional willingness-to-pay. Results from this study show that consumer awareness of Texas Superstar™ and Earth-Kind™ in Texas is low, but the level of satisfaction among consumers is high. Furthermore, profiles of the consumers' behavioral and demographic characteristics that are more likely to influence brand awareness and willingness-to-pay were identified. The findings suggest that consumers who shop weekly or monthly for ornamental plants are more likely to be aware of programs such as Texas Superstar™ and Earth-Kind™. Also, those who live in South Texas were more likely to exhibit awareness of Earth-Kind™. Consumers who shopped for self-consumption purposes were willing to pay a discounted price for Texas Superstar™ and Earth-Kind™ plants compared with unbranded plants and those who were previously aware of the brands were willing to pay more. The two brands were effective in differentiating their products and thus creating price premiums. It was estimated that the willingness-to-pay for Earth-Kind™ and Texas Superstar™ for the average respondent was 10% higher than the willingness-to-pay for an unbranded plant.

Free access

Gary W. Williams, Oral Capps Jr, and Marco A. Palma

This article analyzes the effectiveness of Marketing Order 906 in promoting Texas grapefruit and oranges and focuses specifically on the answers to two key questions: 1) What have been the effects of the promotion programs funded under Marketing Order 906 on shipments of Texas grapefruit and oranges? 2) What has been the return on the investment made under Marketing Order 906 to promote sales of Texas grapefruit and oranges? The article first provides some background on the Texas citrus promotion program and then develops a seemingly unrelated regression econometric model of Texas grapefruit and orange shipments for the analysis of the effectiveness of the program. The results obtained indicate that the Texas citrus promotion program has been effective in enhancing shipments of Texas grapefruit but not oranges and that the benefits of the promotion efforts have exceeded the costs, at least for grapefruit. Insights are drawn for other commodity promotion programs.

Full access

Alan W. Hodges, Charles R. Hall, and Marco A. Palma

Economic contributions of the green industry in each state of the United States were estimated for 2007–08 using regional economic multipliers, together with information on horticulture product sales, employment, and payroll reported by the U.S. Economic Census and a nursery industry survey. Total sales revenues for all sectors were $176.11 billion, direct output was $117.40 billion, and total output impacts, including indirect and induced regional economic multiplier effects of nonlocal output, were $175.26 billion. The total value added impact was $107.16 billion, including employee compensation, proprietor (business owner) income, other property income, and indirect business taxes paid to state/local and federal governments. The industry had direct employment of 1.20 million full-time and part-time jobs and total employment impacts of 1.95 million jobs in the broader economy. The largest individual industry sectors in terms of employment and value added impacts were Landscaping services (1,075,343 jobs, $50.3 billion), Nursery and greenhouse production (436,462 jobs, $27.1 billion), and Building materials and garden equipment and supplies stores (190,839 jobs, $9.7 billion). The top 10 individual states in terms of employment contributions were California (257,885 jobs), Florida (188,437 jobs), Texas (82,113 jobs), North Carolina (81,113 jobs), Ohio (79,707 jobs), Pennsylvania (75,604 jobs), New Jersey (67,993 jobs), Illinois (67,382 jobs), Georgia (66,042 jobs), and Virginia (58,677 jobs). The total value added of the U.S. green industry represented 0.76% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007, and up to 1.60% of GDP in individual states. On the basis of a similar previous study for 2002 (), total sales of horticultural products and services in 2007–08 increased by 3.5%, and total output impacts increased by 29.2%, or an average annual rate of 5.8% in inflation-adjusted terms.

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Chanjin Chung, Tracy A. Boyer, Marco Palma, and Monika Ghimire

This study estimates potential economic impacts of developing drought- and shade-tolerant bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) turf varieties in five southern states: Texas, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. First, estimates are provided for the market-level crop values of the newly developed two varieties for each state. Then, an economic impact analysis is conducted using an input–output model to assess additional output values (direct, indirect, and induced impacts), value added, and employment due to the new varieties. Our results indicate that the two new varieties would offer significant economic impacts for the central and eastern regions of the United States. Under the assumption of full adoption, the two new products would generate $142.4 million of total output, $91.3 million of value added, and 1258 new jobs. When a lower adoption rate is assumed at 20%, the expected economic impacts would generate $28.5 million of output, $18.3 million of value added, and 252 jobs in the region. Our findings quantify the potential economic benefits of development and adoption of new turfgrass varieties with desirable attributes for residential use. The findings suggest that researchers, producers, and policymakers continue their efforts to meet consumers’ needs, and in doing so, they will also reduce municipal water consumption in regions suited to bermudagrass varieties.

Open access

Candi Ge, Chanjin Chung, Tracy A. Boyer, and Marco Palma

This study combines a discrete choice experiment and eye-tracking technology to investigate producers’ preferences for sod attributes including winterkill reduction, shade tolerance, drought tolerance, salinity tolerance, and maintenance cost reduction. Our study results show that sod producers valued drought tolerance the most, followed by shade tolerance, winterkill reduction, salinity tolerance, and lastly, a 10% maintenance cost reduction. Choice survey data revealed the existence of attribute non-attendance, i.e., respondents skipped some attributes, but statistical tests detected no clear evidence about the role of individuals’ attention changes on their willingness-to-accept estimates. Estimates using a scale heterogeneity multinomial logit model indicate an overall learning effect as respondents made choices in the survey. Producers’ willingness-to-accept were generally higher than consumers’ willingness-to-pay for the improved sod variety attributes, except for the drought tolerance attribute. However, the rankings for these attributes were the same between consumers and producers.

Open access

Kaitlin A. Hopkins, Charles R. Hall, Michael A. Arnold, Marco A. Palma, Melinda Knuth, and Brent Pemberton

Conjoint analysis can be used to simultaneously investigate consumer preferences on multiple attributes and levels. Our objective was to gain insight regarding consumer preferences for attributes and levels attributed to Ratibida columnifera, a wildflower of potential commercial interest. A ratings-based conjoint analysis using petal color (bicolor, marble, red, yellow), petal shape (circular, oval, notched, lobed), petal number (less than 10, more than 10), and price ($10.00, $15.00, $20.00) was conducted to elucidate part-worth utility from data from 1000 subjects recruited using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a crowdsourcing marketplace. Subjects were then clustered according to their conjoint utility scores. In addition to the conjoint analysis, a principal component analysis was performed based on native plant knowledge of the respondent. Conjoint results revealed that petal color was the most important attribute in decision making, followed by price, petal shape, and petal number. Utility values revealed preference for bicolor petals, followed by red, yellow, and marbled color petals. Preference for price went from least expensive to most expensive. Circular petals were favored over oval, notched, and lobed. Subjects also preferred to have 10 petals or more, vs. less than 10 petals. Cluster analysis yielded three consumer segments, which differed in their utility values. These clusters differed in both demographics and R. columnifera preferences. Overall, consumers preferred R. columnifera with partial (bicolor) or complete red coloration over other options, lower prices, more petals, and entire circular or oval petals.

Open access

Kaitlin A. Hopkins, Michael A. Arnold, Charles R. Hall, Brent Pemberton, and Marco A. Palma

Variation in floral characteristics and growth habits within the native range of the North American wildflower Ratibida columnifera (Nutt.) Wooton & Standl. suggest potential for breeding and selection efforts to develop improved cultivars for commercial and residential landscapes. Toward that end, experiments in vegetative propagation were performed to enable perpetuation of unique germplasm. Stem development stage, applications of auxin, genotypic variation, and the effects of bottom heat applications were assessed to determine impacts on rooting percentages and adventitious root system quality measures. Younger apical stem sections rooted more readily and produced better quality root systems than more lignified basal stem cuttings. Optimal rooting percentages and rooted cutting quality ranged from 0.10% to 0.30% IBA (indole-3-butyric acid) quick dips, with 0.30% being optimal for most genotypes. Application of 26 °C bottom heat improved rooting ability in both cool and warm seasons compared with ambient and bottom heat of 32 °C. Bottom heat of 32 °C improved most rooting measures over ambient during the cool season, but not during the warm season. The degree of improvement in adventitious rooting associated with various developmental stage, auxin quick dips, and bottom heating varied among accessions of R. columnifera, suggesting that adventitious rooting characteristics should be evaluated as a selection criterion for cultivar development within this species.

Open access

Kaitlin A. Hopkins, Michael A. Arnold, Charles R. Hall, H. Brent Pemberton, and Marco A. Palma

Variation in floral characteristics and growth habits within the native range of the North American wildflower Ratibida columnifera (Nutt.) Wooton & Standl. suggests potential for breeding and selection efforts to develop improved cultivars for commercial and residential landscapes. Experiments in seed propagation were performed to enable perpetuation of unique germplasms. Overnight hydration, storage condition variations, stratification and scarification, and seed maturation effects were assessed to determine impacts on viability and percent germination. Overnight hydration had no impact on percent germination. Germplasm had a significant effect on germination for all remaining experiments. Seed maintained viability at the same rate through 18 months, when slight reductions were noted. Cold storage at 3 °C had no effect on viability or percent germination of dry seed compared with storage at 23 °C. All three germplasms exhibited increased percent germination with some stratification period, and declined significantly in percent germination with all acid scarification treatments. Experiments indicated that most germplasms benefit from between 30 to 60 days of cold, moist stratification. There was a significant interaction effect among germplasms, location on the inflorescences, and maturity stages for R. columnifera. Data suggest that seed should be harvested as close as possible to when natural dispersal would occur for optimum germination. The degree of improvement in viability and percent germination associated with harvesting at various developmental stages, seed pretreatments, and storage conditions suggests that to achieve germination success, pretreatments should be used for propagation of seed from mature inflorescences and that variation can be expected within different genotypes of this species.

Open access

John E. Montoya Jr., Michael A. Arnold, Juliana Rangel, Larry R. Stein, and Marco A. Palma

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) growers have observed increased crop yield by placing bees in close proximity to these vegetable crops. However, adding managed bees typically may not be feasible for small-scale farmers or homeowners. Limited studies have demonstrated the potential of pollinator-attracting plants to be used as a lure to enhance the visitation of pollinators to adjacent food crops. This study evaluated the potential of adding pollinator-attracting plants in close proximity to cucumber and habanero plants to improve yields by either establishing permanent perennial companion plantings adjacent to the crops or interplanting annual companion plants within the row anew with each crop. The perennial treatment group consisted of Phyla nodiflora (L.) Greene, Borrichia frutescens (L.) DC., Salvia farinacea Benth. ‘Henry Duelberg’, and Eysenhardtia texana Scheele. The annual treatment group consisted of Cosmos bipinnatus Cav., Zinnia ×marylandica D.M. Spooner, Stimart, & T. Boyle, Borago officinalis L., and Ocimum basilicum L. Multiple cropping cycles were initiated using both spring and fall seasons, and yield was assessed for three successive cropping cycles. Fruit quality was unaffected by pollinator-attracting companion plantings; however total and marketable yields were impacted. Cucumber yields were significantly (P < 0.05) greater during fall harvests with annual companion plantings and with the second fall harvest in perennial companion plant plots. Perennial companion plots initially yielded less than control plots or annual companion plots due to the space allocated to the companion plantings and the fewer pollinators initially attracted to the plots compared with the annual companion plantings. When the perennial plots became more established, they resulted in similar yields as the annual companion planting plots. Although habanero yields were increased by annual companion plantings in spring and fall, cucumbers were unaffected by companion plantings in spring. This suggests a potential seasonality for the efficacy of some pollinator-attracting companion plantings for a given crop that could offer an opportunity to tailor companion plantings to attract specific pollinators at different times of the year.

Full access

Luis A. Ribera, Marco A. Palma, Mechel Paggi, Ronald Knutson, Joseph G. Masabni, and Juan Anciso

This study investigates the potential impact of food safety outbreaks on domestic shipments, imports, and prices of the produce industry. Moreover, the compliance costs associated with new food safety standards were also estimated. Three case studies were analyzed to assess these potential impacts: the muskmelon (Cucumis melo) outbreak of Mar.–Apr. 2008, the spinach (Spinacea oleracea) outbreak of Sept. 2006, and the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) outbreak of June–July 2008. The results demonstrate that the costs incurred by producers because of food safety outbreaks in produce are far greater than preventing such incidents.