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South Centers

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences




Our mission is to explore and validate fruit production and marketing opportunities for both current and future Ohio producers to help them increase the profitability and diversification of their farming operations.

Information about the Program Leader for Fruit Crops:

Welcome to the world of fruit production research and extension in Ohio. Dr. Gary Gao is an extension specialist for fruit crops and an associate professor with Department of Extension at the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). He is also an adjunct associate professor with the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science within CFAES at The Ohio State University.  With my position at OSU South Centers, I conduct extension program and research projects on blueberries, brambles (blackberries and raspberries, wine grapes and many other high value crops.  Within his position with the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Gao provides guest lectures to several undergraduate classes, as well as sometimes serving as a graduate school representative since he has a P status for advising Ph.D. graduate students. He can also serve on graduate studies committees for both Masters and Ph.D. students.

Gao proudly bleeds scarlet and gray, having been a part of The Ohio State University in one form or another for a long time, including the OSU South Centers in Piketon since April, 2011.  Prior to jis current position, he worked for OSU Extension in Delaware County for four years and OSU Extension in Clermont County for 11 years.  Gao received his Ph.D. and Master’s in viticulture (grape production) from The Ohio State University. 

If you have questions about how to grow blueberries, brambles (blackberries and raspberries, wine grapes and other high value fruit crop in Ohio as a commercial operation, please email Gao or call him at 740-289-2071, ext. 123.  We also have quite a few plots of various berry crops at OSU South Centers in Piketon. If and when schedules permit, Gao or Research Assistant Ryan Slaughter would be glad to give you a tour of our research plots. 

Information about Our Extension Programs and Research Projects:

Some of our programs include Cane Berry and Wine Grape Pruning Workshops in March, Berry and Wine Grape Field Night in July or August, and Grape and Wine Analysis Workshop in December - these are in addition to farm visits, phone and email consultations, and the development of informitive extension fact sheets and bulletins.

Our main crops of research focus are on blueberries, brambles (blackberries and raspberries, wine grapes and many other emerging high-value fruit crops.  Some of them are gooseberries, currants, elderberries, hardy figs and hardy kiwis.

Our Current Team Members

Dr. Gary Gao, Extension specialist for small fruit crops and professor, leads the research and extension programs in commercial fruit products. He currently conducts applied research and extension programs in the areas of blackberries and raspberries, blueberries, currants and gooseberries, and winegrapes. Additional fruit crops can be added where needs and financial support are identified. For additional information, email Gary Gao or call him at 740-289-2071, ext. 123

Ryan Slaughter, Research Assistant

Bradford Sherman, Program Assistant

Former Members of Our Team

Dr. Dong Qin, Visiting Scholar, and Associate Professor, Northeast China Agricultural University

Dr. Lijing Zhou, Research Associate

Dr. Jiangbo Fan, Postdoctoral Researcher

Yanling Chu, Visiting Scholar, and Instructor of Jiangsu University of Science and Technology

Ricardo Medina, Visiting Scholar from Brazil

Jiuxing "Lulu" Lu, Postdoctoral Researcher, and Instructor of Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou, China