Are you looking for a new enterprise to add income to your farm operation? Berries and grapes are both gaining popularity with consumers. Blueberries and blackberries both have been associated with antioxidant production and are seen as especially healthy fruits.
One challenge is how to learn management and production systems for these crops. Choosing varieties and protecting the crop from pests and feeding is another challenge.
Ohio commercial growers who are looking for ways to diversify their farming operations can find answers to these questions and gain insight on blueberries, blackberries and wine grapes at a workshop July 18 offered by horticulture and viticulture experts with Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
The program is 6-9 p.m. at the Ohio State University South Centers' Endeavor Center, 1862 Shyville Road, in Piketon.
The workshop will allow participants to get an up-close look at some new varieties of blueberries and blackberries to get an idea of how they taste, how they grow and how much they can produce, says Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at OSU South Centers.
"The blueberries and blackberries typically ripen in July, so it's a good time to check out the newer varieties to give growers an idea of the taste, growth habit and yield of these new cultivars (varieties)," he says. "For wine grape growers, wine grapes are almost in the home stretch, so growers need to ensure that diseases and insects are controlled, shoots are well positioned and grape clusters are developing color, sugars, and flavor correctly to ensure that the fruits develop best quality.
"Growers can also learn techniques on how to reduce bird damage to blueberries. Blueberries are the perfect sizes for birds, such as robins and starlings, and because the birds can eat a lot of fruits, they can cause a tremendous amount of damage and wipe out a grower's profits."
Researchers with OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center will conduct the workshop, including viticulture outreach specialist Dave Scurlock and Gao. OSU Extension and OARDC are the college's outreach and research arms, respectively. The OSU South Centers' Endeavor Center is also a part of the college.
The featured projects are funded by several grants. The blueberry and blackberry projects were funded by two specialty crop block grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The grape projects were funded by grants from the Ohio Grape Industries Program.
* Summer Vineyard Management Practices
* New Blueberry Varieties
* Bird Netting
* Blackberry Production Systems
* Identification and Management of Spotted Wing Drosophila and Marmorated Stink Bug
Registration for the workshop is $10 and includes the program, handouts and a light meal. Contact Charissa McGlothin at 740-289-2071 ext. 132 to register. The deadline to register is July 15. More information can be found online.