Ohio Commercial Berry Production School March 4 to Offer Growers Options to Deal with Winter Injury in Small Fruit Plants


PIKETON, Ohio – The polar vortex and subsequent arctic cold temperatures throughout the region this winter have left many small fruit growers seeing varying degrees of winter injury in their plants, according to a small fruit crops expert with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

The sub-zero arctic temperatures have taken a significant toll on small fruit crops this year, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at Ohio State University’s South Centers in Piketon.

For example, wine grape growers are likely to find significant damage to their grape vines. The Vinifera or European grape varieties have probably sustained 90 to 100 percent injury to their primary buds, he said.

“Many of the plants have sustained substantial damage from these cold temperatures, and growers need to understand how to assess winter injury to their plants,” Gao said. “The workshop will teach growers how to assess the damage including what percentage of the plants were damaged and what to do with the plants going forward.”

To help berry growers learn how to assess winter injury for their plants, horticulture and viticulture experts from the college will host an Ohio Commercial Berry Production School March 4 that will offer insight into this concern as well as other key issues facing small fruit growers, he said.

The program is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the OSU South Centers’ Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road, Piketon.

The workshop will also focus on how to help growers expand their knowledge base to increase their profit potential as well as increase yield, Gao said. That includes offering information on how to grow plasticulture strawberries, information on wine grape production, and guidance on how growers can get started in blackberry and raspberry production, he said.

Researchers with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) will conduct the workshop, including horticulture specialist Brad Bergefurd; viticulture outreach specialist Dave Scurlock; state viticulture (grape growing) specialist Imed Dami; and Gao.

OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college. The South Centers are also a part of the college.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Strawberry Production and Marketing
  • Commercial Wine Grape Production
  • Commercial Raspberry Production Systems
  • Assessment of Winter Injuries of Grapevines
  • Pruning demonstrations of Grape, Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry

Participants will also get to experience hands-on pruning demonstrations in the field, Gao said. The demonstration will focus on the best ways to prune grape vines and blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, he said.

“Pruning can be a hard concept for some people to grasp because different plant varieties require different pruning options,” Gao said. “Effective pruning is based on a number of variables, including the age of the vine, types of varieties, total vegetative growth from the year before, the yield from the previous year, and the optimum yield during the current year.”

Registration for the workshop is $25 and includes the program, handouts, lunch, and refreshments. Contact Charissa McGlothin at 740-289-2071, ext. 132, to register. The deadline to register is Feb. 25.

The workshop will also have growing guides and publications for sale, including the Commercial Small Fruit and Spray Guide for $9 and a Blueberry Production Guide for $15.

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 


Gary Gao
740-289-2071, ext. 123