PIKETON, Ohio – ”Superfruits” have become a popular option for health conscious consumers and could provide additional farm income for growers who add them to their production lineup, says a fruit crop expert with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.
Fruits such as elderberry, aronia and goji berries are being called super berries because of their nutrition quotient, especially their rich antioxidant content, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at Ohio State’s South Centers in Piketon.
The berries, which are growing in popularity with consumers who are looking to add healthier options to their diets, could be a financial boost to farmers who are able to add the small fruit crops to their farm operations, Gao said.
“Consumers are excited and interested in these berries because of their high antioxidant content,” he said. “These popular berries, which can also be grown successfully in Ohio, can help growers diversify their operations by providing them more options.
“Ohio has very limited experience with commercial production of elderberry, aronia and goji berries, but growers who can add production of these berries to their farm operations can generate additional farm income using land they already have. There are already some small-scale growers across the state that have tried it and are doing it well, particularly with elderberry and aronia berries.”
Goji berries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Aronia (also called a black chokeberry) is said to have more antioxidants than blueberries. Elderberry contains more phosphorus and potassium than any other temperate fruit crop, and is also rich in vitamin C.
To help berry growers — new and experienced alike — learn how to produce elderberry, aronia, goji and other berries, horticulture and viticulture experts from the college are offering a Super Berry School March 19.
The workshop will also offer insight into other key concerns facing small fruit growers, including pruning demonstrations and how to assess winter injury of grapevines, Gao said. The program is 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the OSU South Centers’ Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road, Piketon.
Conducting the workshop will be researchers and educators with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), including Gao, viticulture outreach specialist Dave Scurlock and research assistant Ryan Slaughter.
OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.
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 or for more information. The deadline to register is March 13.
740-289-2071, ext. 123