Container Fruit Production May Have Good Potential in Ohio

By Gary Gao, Ph.D., Extension Specialist and Associate Professor; Ryan Slaughter, Research Assistant; and Michael Daniels, Formerly Student Intern, OSU South Centers

Our container fruit production plot has finally been set up and ready for your viewing pleasure after several months of learning, planning, and hard work. Since we are not necessarily nursery production experts, we reached out to a few people before we decided on the specifics of our container fruit production plot. We toured Dr. Altland’s research facilities in Wooster, Ohio.  Both Dr. Altland and his assistant Dan Troyer welcomed us with open arms.  We are very grateful for all of the excellent information from them.  Our container production is on drip irrigation and is supported by a very strong trellis system. 

If you would like to bring a group to tour our research plots in Piketon, Ohio, please let Gary (Gao.2@osu.edu) or Ryan (Slaugher.71@osu.edu) know.  Fridays are typically the best days for tours like this.  Gary or Ryan can share what we have learned.  We planted blackberries, blueberries and raspberries so far, and may add other fruit crops.

The main objectives of this study are to:

1. Explore the techniques and practices of container fruit production;

2. Explore an effective way to produce blueberries where soil acidification is not feasible;

3. Provide an effective method of winter protection for blackberries;

4. Extend the fruit harvest season by “forcing” early or later blooms and fruit ripening;

5. Help farmers diversify their farming operations.

There may be other benefits from this project. We use aged pine fines as our substrate for our container fruit production. Pine barks are the byproducts of paper industry. In southern Ohio, timber industry is a significant source of cash receipts for many landowners. Using byproducts of the timber industry can help everyone!   

Since soils on many hilly areas are not ideally suited for fruit production, high density berry production in containers might be a good option. Stay tuned for more information. Pay us a visit, if you can’t wait!

We showcased our berry container production plot at our 2016 Super Berry, Container Fruit Production and Wine Grape Field Night on July 7. With the weather turning out to be much better than we had anticipated, it was a good turnout for the field night.

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Dave Daniels, Director of Ohio Department of Agriculture, and Ms. Lori Panda, a senior program manager at Ohio Department of Agriculture for a specialty crop block grant. We also thank the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for the Special Crop Block Grant Program.