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Orville M. Lindstrom and Wojciech J. Florkowski

It is more important than ever to produce a quality Christmas tree because of increasing competition in the Christmas tree market. Grade standards are intended to reflect quality, as defined by the consumer, to the grower. The USDA revised a set of voluntary standards for Christmas trees effective October 30, 1989. The existence of different grade standards cause the existence of several prices that correspond to each grade. The price differentials among grades should reflect the quality or desired consumer attribute. Therefore, a description of a grade that is not reflective of that desired by the consumer can lead to missallocation of resources by producers resulting in economic losses. The new USDA standards did not include consumer opinion information into the new standards, therefore, we feel these standards are more applicable to producer-wholesale transactions, and not that of the producer-consumer. It was found that over 75% of surveyed growers in Georgia sold almost 80% of their trees as choose and cut, not wholesale. Consumer demand will drive the Christmas tree market and, therefore, consumer preferences need to be incorporated into the grade standards.

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Wojciech J. Florkowski, Carol Robacker and Paul Thomas

Managers and employees of landscape maintenance and lawn care industry (LM/LC) applying pesticides can prevent pollution. Adequate information about application of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and nematicides is a prerequisite for proper application. A survey, prepared by an interdisciplinary research team “Ornamentals Working Group,” was implemented in 1994 to Atlanta metro area firms. The gross return rate was 25.4%. The majority of respondents had 10 or fewer years of experience in providing landscape services; had at least 13 years of schooling; and were in their thirties or forties. The categorical nature of dependent variables suggested ordered probit procedure as the statistical estimation method. Independent variables included characteristics of the respondent, firm characteristics, and information sources about the application of a specific pesticide. Extension and research personnel and commercial representatives were important information sources about insecticide and fungicide application. The use of all three sources of information by the LM/LC industry seems to depend on pesticide type, with commercial representatives, and extension and research personnel often acting as complementary information sources.

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Wojciech J. Florkowski and Orville M. Lindstrom

Leyland cypress (×Cupressocyparis Leylandii) is becoming increasingly important as a live-cut Christmas tree yet it differs from trees currently familiar to most customers. Results of a consumer survey provide an opportunity for growers to adjust planting and marketing decisions. Questionnaires were completed while respondents displayed the tree at their residences. Opinions about the tree referred to tree features and compared them with features of other types of Christmas trees and inquired about the care given to the tree and its disposal. In general, respondents were consistent in their favorable assessment of Leyland cypress as a live Christmas tree with respect to several characteristics including tree shape twig density, and maintenance of fresh appearance over time. Recycling was the primary form of tree disposal.

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Malgorzata A. Florkowska, Orville M. Lindstrom and Wojciech J. Florkowski

A survey was conducted to investigate consumer preferences in a Christmas tree purchase. The survey asked about consumers' socioeconomic status, customer loyalty and on farm buying habits, specific tree preferences, and preferences of live versus artificial trees. Fifty-three percent of the 148 respondents were male and 61% were between the ages of 25-44. Thirty-three percent had 3 children, 50% were college graduates and 59X had a family income greater than $35,000. Sixty-eight percent purchased their tree at the same farm as they did the previous year, 62% traveled from 1-10 miles to the farm, 50% of trees were purchased by December 8, and 70% of the purchases were during the afternoon. The most common tree selected was a 6-7 ft. Virginia Pine and selection time ranged from 5-30 minutes. Compared to an artificial tree, respondents cited messiness, difficulty to carry and trouble to remove as major drawbacks of choose-and-cut Christmas trees. This was particularly evident in female and elderly respondents.

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Wojciech J. Florkowski, Orville M. Lindstrom, Carol D. Robacker and H.R. Simonton

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Wojciech J. Florkowski, Carol D. Robacker, Joyce G. Latimer and S. Kristine Braman

A survey indicated that the landscape maintenance and lawn care industry of the Atlanta metro area was localized in densely populated counties with a high concentration of commercial activity and residential housing. A relatively young age and limited size of most of the firms suggested a lack of barriers to entering the industry, which was supported by gross sales and equipment owned by surveyed companies. Most firms generated no more than $100,000 in sales in 1993 and owned equipment valued at less than $25,000. Most residential accounts were under 10 acres.

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Bethany A. Harris, Wojciech J. Florkowski and Svoboda V. Pennisi

Biodegradable containers of various types are available on the market and can be directly purchased by growers and homeowners. However, adoption of these containers has been slow, limiting their potential as an alternative to plastic containers. It is crucial to assess level of knowledge and use of biodegradable containers by horticultural growers and landscape service providers to help explain their slow rate of adoption by the industry. An online survey instrument was implemented to assess grower and landscaper knowledge and familiarity regarding biodegradable containers in the state of Georgia. Results indicated that 83% of horticultural growers do not purchase biodegradable containers. However, peat biodegradable containers were primarily purchased when these containers were used. Both growers and landscape service providers “neither agreed nor disagreed” that the use of biodegradable containers could improve plant growth. Growers “did not know” if using biodegradable containers “improved water efficiency.” Landscape service providers exhibited low knowledge of the wide variety of biodegradable containers available on the market as well as limited awareness of features of such containers as they pertained to plant growth.