Ohio Commercial Berry Production School is March 14



PIKETON, Ohio – Berry growers looking for ways to diversify their farming operations can learn the practical and essential skills needed to be successful in the blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry industries at a workshop held by Ohio State University horticulture and viticulture experts March 14. 

The program is from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the OSU South Centers’ Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road, in Piketon.

The workshop is designed to help growers expand their knowledge base to increase their profit potential as well as learn tips to help increase yield, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at OSU South Centers.

“One of the areas we’ll look at is blueberry, blackberry and grape pruning, offering growers a chance for hands-on learning,” he said. “Knowing when to prune and how to prune, as well as what to prune, is very important for commercial production to improve fruit quality.

“With pruning, especially with newer growers, sometimes people are afraid to cut because once they cut, they can’t glue it back on.”

All fruit crops are known to over-produce in a typical year, Gao said, so growers need to be aware that if they don’t prune on a yearly basis, it can result in high quantity but lower quality fruits.

But the key, he said, is to be aware of what and how much to cut.

“Blueberries for example, have a lot of flower buds and it’s important to know which ones to keep, such as the healthier, stronger buds, and which ones to remove,” Gao said. “There’s a lot of science and art involved to know which buds to choose and how much to cut so you don’t reduce yields too much.

“Because pruning can be challenging for any grower, we’ll offer very detailed information.”

The workshop will also provide information on how to grow plasticulture strawberries, which is a relatively new growing procedure, 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; research assistant in horticulture and crops science, Scott Wolfe; viticulture outreach specialist Dave Scurlock; and Gao.

Sessions include:

  • Commercial Blueberry Production
  • Plasticulture Strawberry Production
  • Blackberry and Raspberry Production Systems
  • Weed Control in Bramble Production
  • Grape Pruning
  • Blueberry Pruning

Participants will also get to experience hands-on pruning demonstrations outdoors, Gao said.

Registration for the workshop is $20 and includes the program, handouts, lunch, and refreshments. Contact Charissa McGlothin at 740-289-2071 ext. 132 to register. The deadline to register is March 8.

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Gary Gao
740-289-2071, ext. 123