Connections Newsletter : Winter 2018 Achievements Edition

  1. Aquaculture Research Achievements

    By: Hanping Wang, PhD, Senior Scientist

    Yellow Perch Breeding: A large numbers of neo-male broodstock of yellow perch with a female genotype have been created, using the superior neomale broodstock, fast-growing all-female yellow perch populations have been produced. The large numbers of superior neomale broodstock from this project enable us to produce commercial-scale of all-female monosex yellow perch. Growth performance test of the all-females vs. mixed-sex group in tank system was conducted in Piketon Research Station. By the end of the experiment, all-females grew 26.3% faster than mixed group, and 66.0% faster than males. Larger scale growth performance test of the all-females vs. mixed-sex group will be conducted in 2017.

    Bluegill Breeding: A large numbers of neo-female broodstock of bluegill with a male genotype have been created. All-Male or near-all-male bluegill populations have been successfully produced. Results from testing all-male or near-all-male bluegill populations at two locations showed: 1) Weight gain and growth rate of all-male stock were 2.1 times as that of regular stocks; 2) All-male groups had significantly uniformed size and lower coefficient of variation; and 3) Survival of all-male groups was significant higher than that of mixed sex groups due to more uniformed size. A successful creation of genetically male bluegill strains would have a tremendous impact on the sunfish aquaculture industry by increasing growth rate of 30- 35% and saving energy expenditure of 20-30% for sex growth.

    Identify the best genetically distinct largemouth bass populations for industry: In 2016-2017, we genotyped 280 additional largemouth bass from 28 wild populations across the United States using eight microsatellite loci. We are conducting experiment to compare growth performance of the identified group vs. Ohio control group in indoor system. The fish were stocked and are being cultured communally in two replicate tanks. As of November, fish from the identified group grew 126.6% faster than control group. An experiment on evaluation of soybean meal as protein source for northern and southern largemouth bass was completed. The results indicated that northern subspecies had superior growth compared to Florida subspecies in current experimental setup. The results provide a valuable base for developing fast-growing largemouth bass broodstocks for industry.

    Genetic improvement of SMD utilization rate of Largemouth bass (LMB) : A study on evaluation of growth response of Northern and Southern subspecies to SMD and fishmeal-based diet (FMD) was completed. Four diets were formulated with varying levels of dietary soybean meal 0 (control), 12, 25, and 40%, respectively. The feeding trial with 4 replicates lasted for 12 weeks. Results showed that 1) Northern subspecies grew significantly faster and gained significantly higher body weight than Southern subspecies across the four levels of soybean meal diets; 2) Northern subspecies utilized SMD significantly better than Southern subspecies; 3) Based on the feed efficiency, 12% dietary soybean meal inclusion is optimal for Southern largemouth bass. 25% soybean meal can be used in diet for Northern largemouth bass; 4) The growth of largemouth bass decreased with increasing dietary soybean meal level and no significant differences were observed among the treatments for two subspecies. Diet with 40% soybean meal inclusion is acceptable for juveniles.

    Genomic sequence and tool development:  We have completed whole genome sequencing of yellow perch and bluegill. It is the first Percidae and Centrarchidae (sunfish) that have been fully sequenced. Yellow perch belong to the family Percidae including about 200 species in 10 genera. The perch, darter, and their relatives are in this family and well-known species of great economic value include the three species of perch, walleye, sauger and ruffe. Information of the whole genome in these two species makes it possible to see how genes interact with each other, and examine the exact gene that governs economically important traits such as fast-growing and disease resistance. The perch and  sunfish genome sequence data provide useful genetic resource and lay important foundation for discovering molecular mechanism of growth, sex determination and sex control, reproduction related to aquaculture and conservation of wild stocks for over 100 economically and environmentally important percid and sunfish species. We also completed whole genome sequencing of two strains of bluegill to develop SNPs and investigate genomic base of sex determination for developing mono-sex population, and results have been published by a high impact journals SCIENTIFIC REPORT and PLOS ONE.

    Promotion of international training and collaborations: Research in aquaculture genetics and breeding at OSU South Centers has produced international impacts and attracted about thirty scientists and international scholars to work in the Aquaculture Research Center and Genetics Lab at Piketon. In 2016-2017, the lab trained three visiting Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers, and two new ones are coming this year. They also significantly contributed to the aquaculture program’s success at the OSU South Centers. We organized the 2nd international conference on perch and bass.


  2. Two aquaculture books completed in 2017

    By: Hanping Wang, PhD, Senior Scientist

    The first book, Sex Control in Aquaculture, is being published by Wiley and Blackwell in the summer of 2018 after two years of planning, correspondence, coordination, and writing, The book has around 910 pages and 2 volumes. The Editor-in-Chief is Dr. Hanping Wang, Principal Scientist at the Ohio State University South Centers. Co-editors were Dr. Francesc Piferrer of Spain and Dr. Song-Lin Chen of China. Joy Bauman, Sarah Swanson, and Jordan Maxwell assisted in English editing and chapter coordination.

    The first comprehensive book of its kind, Sex Control in Aquaculture, covers basic theory for sex control and sex control practice in major aquaculture species worldwide. It consists of forty-one chapters and the contributiors are from internationally recognized scientists from around the globe.

    Currently, aquaculture, the fastest growing food-producing sector, contributes about 50 percent of the world’s food fish based on the Food and Agriculture Organization’s recent report. Sexual dimorphism in growth performance, ultimate size, and gonad value (e.g. Caviar) in a wide spectrum of fish species make the sexes unique from each other for aquaculture production for human consumption. On the other hand, energy expenditure for reproduction related processes and activities, including gonadal development, courtship, chasing, mating, breeding, competition, and parental care, etc., are undesired in terms of food production. Therefore, sex control and monosex production knowledge and technologies are extremely important for aquaculture professionals and industries to improve production, reduce energy consumption for reproduction, and eliminate a series of problems caused by mixed sex rearing, and for conservationists to control invasive species using sex control approach.

    This publication will provide useful scientific information for commercial use, biological sciences, and for aquaculture researchers. For more information about the book, please visit:

    The 2nd book is World Perch and Bass Culture: Innovation and Industrialization, which is written in both English and Chinese and is being published by China Science Press. Perch and bass, belonging to Serranidae, Percidae, Moronidae, and Latidae families of the Perciformes, have worldwide importance as food and recreational fish. Global production of perch and bass is around 1,000,000 tons.

    The economic value of perch and bass is comparable to cold water species salmon and trout. Comparing to the globally mature aquaculture industry of salmon and trout production, perch and bass are generally suitable for a wide-range of rearing areas and are well-suited for commercial production because of their fast growth. Aquacultural production of perch and bass is in the early stages of development and expanding rapidly. Therefore, there is much potential for expansion of perch and bass aquaculture. This book covers recent developments and innovations in genetics and breeding, nutrition, and culture technologies in major aquaculture perch and bass species, such as Chinese perch, largemouth bass, yellow perch, European perch, pikeperch, striped bass, and walleye.

  3. Aquaculture Boot Camp-2 (ABC-2) Achievements and Impacts 2017

    By: Hanping Wang, PhD, ABC Program Director/Senior Scientist and Jordan Maxwell, ABC Program Coordinator

    The Ohio Center for Aquaculture Research and Development (OCARD) at the OSU South Centers received its second project funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop and operate Aquaculture Boot Camp (ABC).  This ABC-2 is a program for training new and beginning aquaculture farmers in production techniques and business development skills in Ohio and adjacent states. OSU is the first aquaculture program to receive this type of project funding from USDA in the country.

    Based on ABC-1 students’ feedback, aquaculture team, in collaboration with business team and horticulture team at the OSU South Centers, and in partnership with Ohio Aqauculture Association and University of Wisconsin –Stevens Point, developed the ABC-2 program. The ABC-2 program utilizes a “3-I” (Intensive, Intermediate, Introductory) training and multi-faceted approach, including classroom and hands-on training, paired with industry mentoring to enhance the sustainability of new and beginning aquaculture/aquaponic farmers in the Midwest. A key addition to ABC-2 is the inclusion of aquaponics. This expansion is a direct result of strong interest within Ohio and the North Central Region. Upon completion, participants will have the knowledge and hands-on experience to successfully operate a sustainable aquaculture or aquaponics business. OSU looks forward to seeing the expansion of aquaculture and aquaponics as a result of this program.

    Listed below are highlights of ABC-2 accomplishments in the past year:
    a) 12 monthly informative educational modules and materials were developed and posted on the ABC-2 website based on 12 Intensive classes.
    b) 4 Aquaculture workshops were offered for both the intensive and intermediate ABC students.
    c) 1 Aquaculture Bus Tour was offered for introductory, intermediate and intensive ABC students.
    d) 2 OAA-ABC Conferences were organized.
    e) Several aquaculture/aquaponics newsletters and factsheets were published.
    f) An informative ABC-2 website developed.
    g) 2 students interested in aquaculture/aquaponics received an ABC-OAA internship and training.
    h)  A 6-month and 12-month evaluation data was collected using Wufoo (
    i) 27 new farmer students from ABC Intensive class graduated.
    j) 200+ additional new/beginning farmers were trained and mentored through ABC Intermediate.
    k) 949 additional new and beginning farmers were trained and mentored through ABC Introductory.

    We have just started ABC-2 2018 Year-Class with 35 new students recruited for the Intensive class. The group consists of multiple educators, farmers, students, and community leaders. Our staff looks forward to working with this group throughout the year to prepare them for graduation in December of 2018.

    For more information about the ABC Program, please contact Dr. Hanping Wang, ABC Program Director/Senior Scientist at, or Ms. Jordan Maxwell, ABC Program Coordinator at

  4. Comprehensive Outreach and Training Program to Expand Development of North Central Region Aquaculture

    By: Matthew A. Smith, Extension Aquaculture Specialist, The Ohio State University; Nicholas Phelps, Assistant Professor and Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center Director, University of Minnesota; Alex Primus, Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, University of Minnesota

    The North Central Regional Aquaculture Center (NCRAC) is one of the five Regional Aquaculture Centers that was established by Congress in 1988. Their primary focus is linking an Industry Advisory Council to University researchers and Extension in the Midwest (12 state region). While aquaculture researchers are not in abundance in the North Central Region (NCR), Extension FTEs who are experienced in aquaculture are extremely limited. In order to disseminate information and improve technology transfer, an Extension Specialist facilitated a NCRAC Aquaculture Webinar Series that was very popular with industry and University alike. However, a lack of a hands-on component is a clear and understandable limitation of the project. The currently funded two-year project (2017-2019) complements the webinar series and enhances learning outcomes for participants by providing multiple hands-on, advanced aquaculture techniques workshops throughout the NCR. Topical areas for these fee-based workshops include culture techniques for important NCR aquaculture species, advanced aquaculture systems design and management, aquaculture business and marketing, water quality maintenance, advanced fish health diagnostics, and aquaculture regulatory issues. Additionally, workshop presentations and materials will be posted on NCRAC’s website and Ohio State University South Center’s website for archival and dissemination. The workshops are being evaluated for quality of content and delivery as well as their effectiveness in improving farmer knowledge, profitability and sustainability. This evaluation data will help refine future NCRAC endeavors optimize the leveraging of funding and learning outcomes and impacts.

    The first workshop that this project contributed to was the annual Iowa Aquaculture Conference in 2017 and in February 2018 we contributed a session on aquaponics and recirculating aquaculture systems at the joint event with North Central Regional Aquaculture Center, the Kansas Aquaculture Association, and the Missouri Aquaculture Association. Future events are currently being planned to be held in 2018 and 2019 in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana. With extreme limitations of Extension personnel with aquaculture experience in the Midwest, these types of projects allow us to be more efficient, proactive, and engaged in communities that normally do not have University aquaculture presence.

    Forbes Magazine listed sustainably farm-raised fish and shrimp products as the number sixth most popular trend by chefs in 2016. Additionally, in 2017 and 2018 the National Restaurant Association listed sustainably produced seafood at number five in their annual What’s Hot: Top 10 Foods list. In Columbus, Ohio and surrounding sprawling cities in the Midwest, it is becoming more and more evident over time that the “Local Food Movement” is real, growing, and something that’s demanded by millennials and other generations alike. We hope that more hands-on workshops and training exercises will assist farmers in providing for this growing movement and allow for more seafood products used by restaurants to be sourced locally.



    Bender, A. 2016. Top 10 food restaurant trends. Forbes Magazine. November 30.

    National Restaurant Association. 2016. December 8.

    National Restaurant Association. 2017. What’s hot: top 10 foods for 2018. December 4.

  5. Industry and Researcher Round Table on the Future of Food Fish/Shrimp Production in Ohio

    By: Matthew A. Smith, Extension Aquaculture Specialist

    Approximately 40 people joined Ohio State University’s (OSU) round table to discuss aquaculture in Ohio the Thursday night before the OAA/OCAFS annual meeting in late January 2018. OSU asked several southern region researchers to be present to offer a different perspective to Ohio farmers on aquaculture production in the U.S. over the last few decades. Production experts, Dr. Les Torrans (USDA ARS) and Dr. Craig Tucker (USDA ARS), and aquaculture economist Dr. Carole Engle (Engle-Stone Aquatic$) were active in the conversation. Between these three researchers, they have a combined aquaculture experience of approximately 100 years. With their rich catfish history, the group conversation quickly turned to marketing, perseverance, and cooperatives. Over the last few decades, the United States (US) catfish industry has certainly constricted and is due in part to a substantial increase in feed prices, lower fillet prices, and overall lower demand as a result of cheaper importers. The advice and respect shown by the researchers for those catfish farmers who are actively involved in their marketing plans by going out and talking to their customers and creating a strong bond was evident. They encouraged any fish/shrimp producer seeking to develop or expand their food market to continually to be active marketers by selling themselves, their farm, and their product to their customers to ensure they stand out from the competition. By having a more intimate relationship with their customer base, it was discussed that many are capable of receiving a higher price for their product.

    Examples were given of farmers who were able to stay financially stable during economic hardships due to their strong customer base and loyalty to these businesses. In particular, one farm was mentioned for their dedication to their customers and also their customer’s loyalty to that particular farm. This farmer has continually held himself to standards that enable not only the restaurant owner to know who he is but anyone who comes into the establishment. If a restaurant purchases fillets from him, the restaurant is given a framed portrait of the farmer/farm and plaque to hang up in their restaurant. This reveals that the farmer believes in their product and is willing to be potentially criticized (hopefully praised) by the chefs, customers, and anyone else who visits the restaurant and consumes their product. There is no red tape involved. I strongly believe that if Ohio is to develop a strong food fish/shrimp market that farmers will need to develop more active marketing plans that involve improving the general public’s perspective on farming and will occur over time through active communication, high-quality products, and consistent supply. OSU Extension and the OSU CFAES Center for Cooperatives are involved in a recently established Ohio aquaculture steering committee; which is investigating the feasibility of a purchasing cooperative. The OSU South Centers programs are here to help and look forward to seeing aquaculture prosper in Ohio over time.

  6. Endeavor Center and Business Development Network Achievements

    By: Ryan Mapes, Business Development Network Program Leader and Endeavor Center Manager

    Endeavor Center

    2017 has been another successful year for the OSU Endeavor Center business incubator. The center operated at a 100% occupancy rate for most of the year.  During the year we had a couple partners leave but were fortunate to have new partners ready to come on board to fill the vacated offices.  State Street Laboratories is the latest business to become an Endeavor Center partner.  The Endeavor Center also partnered with the African American Chamber of Commerce to house the minority SBDC that covers the Southern Ohio Region. There has also been much activity and many visitors through the doors this year.  We hosted over 400 training or meeting events with well over 5,000 visitors during 2017.  In summary, there are 18 partner companies that occupy 26 office and light industrial bay spaces.  We also have 4 virtual partners that occupy the building on a part-time basis but do not occupy an office.


    The Ohio State University South Centers Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a 9 person team that provides business counseling and training to a 10 county region in Southern Ohio. The Center utilizes a unified delivery model to incorporate resources from other programs affiliated with The Ohio State University South Centers, including the Ohio Cooperative Development Center, Direct Marketing and OSU Extension programs to strengthen service offerings.

    The Export Assistance Network (EAN) helps companies to expand globally through counseling in the areas of market research, due diligence, general export education, export readiness assessments, and trade missions. A counselor also continues to specialize in providing opportunities for businesses to increase sales and create jobs through access to international markets as many small companies don’t have the expertise or resources to expand their business into these markets. Individual counselors are recognized each year at the Statewide SBDC conference for extraordinary efforts given throughout the year.  These Peer Recognition Awards are voted on by all counselors around the state. All levels of field staff are eligible for nomination and there are five (5) categories of awards: advocacy, collaboration, innovation, marketing and mentoring. This year two of our counselors brought home individual awards.  Chris Smalley won the Innovation Award for his work with the OSU South Centers Aquaculture Boot Camp program and Melissa Carter won the marketing award for helping clients develop and enhance informational/basic websites, Etsy stores, and social media platforms.

    The Small Business Development Center at the OSU South Centers had very successful year providing business consulting to the existing and start-up small businesses in Southern Ohio. Also, Fayette County was added to the South Centers service area in 2017. During fiscal year 2017 the SBDC at the OSU South Centers provided the following assistance:
    • Provided consulting to 365 clients of which 271 received 5 or more hours of consulting
    • Assisted with starting 26 businesses
    • Helped clients obtain $9,626,093 in capital
    • Logged 4,484 consulting hours
    • Held 18 training events with 324 attendees
    • Clients created 113 new jobs and retained 824 jobs
    • Recorded $7,000,000 in general sales growth for clients

    Manufacturing Extension Partnership

    The Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) was recently awarded a contract from the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) to support the growth of small and medium sized manufacturing companies in the southeast region of Ohio. CDME is a unit within OSU’s College of Engineering focused on strengthening Ohio’s manufacturing sector.The contract establishes CDME as a Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) affiliate for the State of Ohio in support of Ohio companies. CDME will partner with the Ohio State University South Centers Business Development team to implement services in the Southeast Ohio region.

    The MEP at Ohio State will focus on providing value added. CDME has a full-time engineering staff and is led by a team of former entrepreneurs and business owners who have successfully grown manufacturing and product innovation companies. The MEP program has access to CDME’s 40,000 square foot manufacturing space on the main Columbus campus, as well as most of the equipment in the broader Ohio State University landscape.  
    CDME MEP is primarily focused on new product development, product improvement, innovation, business development, lean manufacturing, and supply chain management.  The program assists companies in the central and southeast Ohio regions in the following manner:
    • Providing value-added engineering support for product development and innovation with an emphasis on design for manufacturing.
    • Commercialization support and partner opportunities with commercial OEMs.
    • Professional program management and industry-friendly contracts.
    • Proposal identification and development support for federal, state and commercial funding programs.
    • Access to the research capabilities and facilities of The Ohio State University and other State of Ohio research universities and federal laboratories.
    • Introduction to support partners in the CDME network (incubators, venture capital, supply chain partners, fortune 100 OEMS, etc).
    • Prototyping and small scale manufacturing of new products.
    • Access to highly motivated students with experiential learning looking to join innovative manufacturing companies upon graduation.

    Training and Programming

    The staff of The OSU South Centers Business Development Network continues to engage community organizations and partners to maintain awareness of changing needs in the region and develop solutions to address those needs.  Throughout the year, members of the Business Development Team served as board members for multiple chambers of commerce, county economic development offices, and advisory boards for business organizations to increase awareness of business issues and identify solutions to problems.

    University of Rio Grande - The OSU-Rio Collaboration is a multi-project partnership between the OSU South Centers and the University of Rio Grande.  The primary objective is to provide educational TV programming covering many different topics that promote Small Businesses, Business Support Organizations, programs at The Ohio State University South Centers, and Educational Programs at the University of Rio Grande / Rio Grande Community College. A member of the Business Development Network also serves as adjunct faculty to provide instruction for both online and on campus business courses.

    Lumber Grading School  - Over a dozen loggers from Ohio and abroad gathered at OSU South Centers to participate in a course designed to give them a better understanding and develop their skills in the timber industry. The five-day Lumber Grading Short Course/Flex Day Course was instructed by a National Hardwood Lumber Association National Inspector.  The course began on October 2nd and finished on October 6th. The course was sponsored by OSU South Centers South Centers, Ohio Forestry Association, Inc., and the National Hardwood Lumber Association.

    From Dream to Reality- This course is a five-week business program that meets twice a week designed to provide an opportunity to learn a variety of skills needed to own and operate a business. This course is offered two times per year through a partnership with the Pike Community Action Agency.

    Agricultural Development and Young Farmer Programs- The SBDC works continues to work closely with the Southern Ohio Agricultural and Community Development Foundation to provide assistance  annually to  agribusinesses and next generation farmers to diversify from tobacco production into a profitable venture. The SBDC provides assists area farmers with writing business plans for projects that will be submitted to SOACDF for potential grant funding. This past year, there were 73 Ag Development applicants and 25 Young Farmer applicants. You can view details and deadlines about the program at

    Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center - The SBDC has partnered with the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center’s Office of Rehabilitative Services to establish an entrepreneurship program for veterans. The program is divided into three two-hour classes and occurred quarterly. The classes focus on business feasibility and entrepreneurship readiness, business plan components, marketing and operations. The veterans who have successfully completed this course have either already started or are in process of starting their own business.


  7. CFAES Center for Cooperatives: Collaboration Creates Greater Impact

    By: Ivory Harlow Cooperative Development Specialist, CFAES Center for Cooperatives

    Among draft horses, Belgians are reputed to be the strongest and most capable. A single Belgian draft horse can tow 8,000 pounds. More impressive is what two can do together; a team of two draft horses doesn’t just double- but triples pulling power to 24,000 lbs!

    Like a team of draft horses, The CFAES Center for Cooperatives combined forces with industry, government and association partners to achieve great things in 2017. Collaboration created greater impact through cooperative education, technical and development assistance for stakeholders and students of cooperatives.

    The Center teamed up with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank to share best practices with the Ohio and West Virginia Food Hub Network. Director of Food Resource Development, Mike Frank, led network participants on a tour, describing how the Foodbank has overcome challenges associated with the aggregation, storage and distribution of fresh food. The Network left with practical actions to improve their food hubs’ operational efficiency.

    Collaboration between the Center for Cooperatives and the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development provided valuable information to local ag producers looking to diversify or enhance their operations.   A Value-Added Producer Grant informational session with key speakers from the USDA was hosted at the OSU South Centers, offering local producers an opportunity to ask questions and get answers from USDA grant experts.

    The Center for Cooperatives worked closely with the Central Appalachia Cooperative Development Group to start Unity Coffee and Teahouse, the first worker-owned cooperative business in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Five Baristas and a coffee roaster created the co-op with a shared vision to foster a commUnity that supports workers, customers and local residents. Unity Coffee and Teahouse opened for business in January 2018.

    The Mid-America Cooperative Council (MACC) brought together cooperative developers from across the Midwest to facilitate communication and coordination of co-op educational resources. The Center met with counterparts from Kentucky, Indiana and northeast Ohio at United Producers, Inc. headquarters in Columbus for a two-day roundtable. Developers discussed programming, goals and alignment. The Center identified opportunities to boost educational programming and technical assistance in the region by sharing knowledge and pooling resources.

    The Center facilitated cooperative education for visiting scholars in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics over their stay in the United States, including an educational tour of agricultural cooperatives at the Farm Science Review. Scholars visited with representatives from Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, Farm Credit, Heritage Cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America and COBA/Select Sires. The scholars returned to Ukraine motivated to share their newfound knowledge of agricultural cooperatives with students at their respective universities.

    The Center connected with local vocational schools and FFA to build students’ awareness of careers in agricultural cooperatives. The Center hosted students at OSU South Centers, visited Ohio Valley Career & Technical Center FFA and served on an Ag Career panel in Ross County.

    The Center worked with the Ohio State University CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics instructors to facilitate an undergraduate class project. Students interviewed cooperative leaders and created multimedia presentations sharing what they learned about the cooperative model.

    Collaboration with partners created a great impact in 2017. The CFAES Center for Cooperatives intends to increase our horse power in 2018. We look forward to partnering with the Ohio Farm Bureau to provide cooperative education to the next generation of leaders at the AgriPOWER Institute and the Young Agricultural Professionals Winter Leadership Experience. The Center will forge new relationships with growers, producers and marketers at the annual Ohio Produce Network conference, the Ohio Association of Meat Processors conference, and the 14th Annual West Virginia Small Farm Conference. Together, the Center and partners are resolved to drive forward the cooperative movement in the region and beyond.

  8. 2017 Highlights of Fruit Research Projects and Extension Programs at South Centers

    By: Gary Gao, PhD, Extension Specialist and Associate Professor

    Our team had a very good year in both research and extension in 2017. We conducted several successful Extension programs at OSU South Centers in Piketon. We also participated in many regional, statewide, national and international programs. In 2017, Dr. Gary Gao authored or coauthored and published 13 fact sheets, one Extension bulletin, and five refereed journal articles. We received a new grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and USDA to work on blackberries, hardy figs and hardy kiwis (kiwiberries), and another grant from Ohio Grape Industries to continue our work on wine grapes. We added a Thermo Fisher Ultimate 3000 UHPLC and a MSQ Plus Single Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer to our fruit research lab. We also added several new members to our team.

    Fruit Educational Programs at South Centers in 2017:

    We conducted the Ohio Cane Fruit Pruning Workshop on March 16, 2017, Ohio Blueberry, Bramble, and Wine Grape Field Night on August 22, and Ohio Commercial Grape and Wine Analysis Workshop on December 14, 2017. These programs were well received by attendees. Dr. Gary Gao, Dr. Lijing Zhou, Ryan Slaughter, Dave Scurlock (HCS-OSU), Patrick Pierquet (HCS-OSU) and Todd Steiner (HCS-OSU) were the featured presenters at some of these programs.

    Dr. Gary Gao also participated in several programs throughout Ohio and other states. Dr. Gao gave two presentations at the 2017 OPGMA Congress in Sandusky, Ohio, two more at the Southwest Specialty Crop Conference, one poster presentation at 2017 Annual Meeting of American Society for Horticultural Science, two presentations at Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, and several presentations at the county fruit training program in Delaware, Lorain and Richland counties.  

    Specialty Crop Research Projects:

    We made good progress with our container production research of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Blueberry bushes grew very well in containers after we increased dosage of fertilizers and acidification of irrigation water. Several types of containers were used in our study. Raspberry bushes produced lots of fruit while blackberry bushes had a significant amount of fruit as well. We will finish our container fruit production project in September 2018 and share all production data in a summary report.

    Our grafted blueberry project went quite well too. We were able to secure sparkleberry plants from different sources in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and Oregon. Jiangbo Fan, Ryan Slaughter, and Lijing Zhou were able to collect some sparkleberry plants from a few state and national parks in Indiana and Missouri. We are hoping that a few promising sparkleberry plants will emerge as good rootstock for blueberry plants in Ohio and beyond.

    We received a new specialty crop block grant to continue our work on blackberry production, and start examining hardy figs and hardy kiwis for Ohio.  Blackberry production using rotatable cross arm trellis continues to draw attention from growers.  This highly specialized training system is quite complicated.  We will establish a plot of blackberry using this system and hope to teach growers how to manage this system well.  We will initiate a comprehensive study of hardy figs and hardy kiwis as alternative cash crops for Ohio.  Both fruits are very tasty and highly nutritious.  We will test which cultivars are best suited for Ohio and how to grow them for maximum profitability.

    Extension and Research Publications

    Dr. Gao’s fact sheets are posted on OhioLine at  You may want to check them out.  Dr. Gao’s fact sheets concentrated on backyard production of tree fruits and small fruits, tomatoes and soil testing.

    Dr. Gao revised the award winning “Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide.”  This OSU Extension bulletin is available for sale from the CFAES Publications at To find this bulletin, you can try searching “940” or “fruit.”  This publication can also be purchased from OSU Extension offices throughout Ohio.  Please call for availability before you visit an extension office. “Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide” can also be purchased from Amazon.

    In 2017, Dr. Gary Gao published three journal articles in the Journal of Forestry Research, one in the Journal of Food Microbiology and two in the NACAA journal.

    Dr. Gao is one of the contributing authors of a new book entitled “Blackberries and Their Hybrids.” This book was edited by Dick Funt and Harvey Hall and published by CABI.  It is available for purchase at or from Amazon.

    Our Fruit Research and Extension Team at South Centers Is Growing too!

    Our fruit research and extension team at OSU South Centers has been growing.  Dr. Lijing Zhou was hired as a research associate in July, 2017.  Mr. Yanling Chu of Jiangsu University of Science and Technology in China joined our group in September, 2017 as visiting scholar.  Dr. Jiangbo Fan was hired as a postdoctoral researcher jointly by Dr. Gary Gao and Dr. Ye “Summer” Xia of Department of Plant Pathology at OSU.

    Ryan Slaughter, a research assistant, has been with our fruit team since 2014.  He has been Gary Gao’s “right hand man” for quite a few years and will continue to be a key member of our group.  Wayne Lewis, Farm Manager, also participated in many of our project activities.  Wayne has been quite instrumental our grape high tunnel project and vineyard maintenance.

    Our Fruit Team is International in More Ways Than One!

    In addition to having international members on our fruit team, our fruit research and extension team leader had reached China.  Dr. Gary Gao formed strong collaboration with Henan Agricultural University, Northeast China Agricultural University, and Shanxi Agricultural University in China.  He gave four international presentations in China in 2017 and visited many fruit and landscape plantings there.  His international experience certainly helped him generate many new ideas for his fruit research project in Ohio.  His active collaboration efforts also led to four refereed journal articles.


    We would like to thank Ohio Department of Agriculture (Lori Panda), USDA (NIFA, SCRI, and Agricultural Marketing Services), and Ohio Grape Industries Program (Christy Eckstein) for their financial support of our fruit research projects and extension programs.  Our sincere appreciation also goes to many wonderful colleagues at OSU South Centers.  They are Marsha Amlin, Charissa Gardner, Rafiq Islam, Wayne Lewis, Paul O’Bryant, Dean Rapp, Duane Rigsby, Beth Rigsby, Sarah Swanson, and Dr. Tom Worley.  We are also thankful for the support of our colleagues from the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at OSU.  They are Patrick Pierquet, Dave Scurlock, and Todd Steiner.

  9. $5 million in annual new harvest ale sales using Ohio hops being brewed in Ohio

    By: Brad Bergefurd, Extension Horticulture Specialist

    Ohio Craft Brewers asked Brad Bergefurd if farmers in Ohio grew hops as they were seeking local suppliers of fresh hops to expand the diversity of locally produced brews using Ohio hops. These new brews include high value Wet-hopped harvest ales never produced in the past. Seeing this agriculture opportunity for Ohio, as a project PI and co-PI, Horticulture Extension Specialist Brad Bergefurd acquired Ohio Department of Agriculture and USDA Specialty Crop Block grant funding partnering with faculty in the Departments of Entomology and Plant Pathology to develop an Ohio hops education and research program, “Hop Production to Enhance Economic Opportunities for Ohio Farmers & Brewers”. The project allowed the OSU South Centers Specialty Crops Team to conduct field research and educational programming and three locations throughout Ohio.

    Partnering with 14 County Ag/NR Educators, Bergefurd and the Specialty Crops Team have taught over 2,000 landowners at regional programs and authored 5 technical reports and fact sheets on the potential of growing hops as a specialty crop for Ohio’s $13.2 billion craft brewing industry. Working with the USDA Cooperative Development Center to form a hop growers association (Ohio Hop Growers Guild,

    As of fall 2017, 72 Ohio farmers report having planted about200 acres of hops, up from 4 acres in 2011, with an estimated annual farm gate crop sales value of $10 million. With this new local Ohio hop supply, Ohio breweries have begun using Ohio grown hops to produce a high-valued seasonal Wet-hopped Harvest Ale using wet hop cones delivered to Ohio breweries within hours of being picked by local hop growers. Harvest ales are an impossibly aromatic and bright IPA brew bursting with fresh pine, melon and citrus notes. Fresh hops are a high value specialty crop which demands a price premium 4x dried hop market value. Ohio brewers are now producing fresh-hopped Ohio ales using locally grown hops with an annual estimated retail value of over $5 million.

  10. Research leads to 4 month longer Ohio Strawberry harvest season and $5 million in annual sales

    By: Brad Bergefurd, Extension Horticulture Specialist

    Thanks to funding from the Ohio Fruit Growers Society, the Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Ohio strawberry harvest and marketing season expanded from a historical 3 week harvest season to a 5 month harvest and marketing season. New production techniques researched and taught by the OSU South Centers Specialty Crops program provided the basis for this extended season.

    In an effort to increase local strawberry supply and availability and to capture consumer market demand previously sourced from out of state suppliers, Horticulture Specialist Brad Bergefurd as the strawberry research and education project Principle Investigator, acquired grant funding to conduct field and greenhouse research to introduce and develop new extended season strawberry growing systems to Ohio. The research and extension education program has resulted in extending the Ohio harvest season from a traditional 3-week harvest and marketing season to a 5-month harvest window, more than doubling yields per acre compared to Ohio’s traditional matted row production system.

    In 2017, many Ohio strawberry growers reported the highest yields ever achieved on their farms, many exceeding 2 quarts per plant with annual strawberry retail sales exceeding $5 million. This new strawberry production system requires new plant types, not available in Ohio before. A propagation protocol and curriculum was developed and taught to assist with the development and creation of a new Ohio strawberry plug plant propagation industry where Ohio nurseries are now producing strawberry plug plants with annual plant sales exceeding $2 million.

    Bergefurd and other Specialty Crops Team members have taught on season extension strawberry production techniques throughout Ohio for county-based Extension programs, field days and at 26 national programs, workshops and conferences, and have authored 18 technical reports and fact sheets on these new production techniques including day neutral production, plasticulture production, matted row production, greenhouse and high tunnel production. These strawberry production techniques have now been adopted by farms throughout Ohio, the Midwest and Canada.

  11. OSU Extension Direct Food and Ag Marketing Team 2017 Summary Report

    By: Christie Welch, Program Manager and Team Leader

    Direct Food & Ag Marketing Team focus:

    The team is focused on providing training, education, and technical assistance to Ohio’s food producers and marketers. The goal of this assistance is to help these small businesses increase their effectiveness and thereby their profitability. This should translate to healthier farms, food producers, and the communities where they reside and increase access for consumers to locally produced foods.

    In 2017 the team provided many trainings and educational presentations throughout Ohio.  Highlights of these include:

    • MarketReady – A one day workshop that helps local food producers explore various market channels; direct to consumers, direct to restaurants, direct to wholesale, and direct to institutions. The workshop focuses on the main business functions for each of these market channels.  The training was delivered in conjunction with OSUE Cuyahoga County to 26 participants. An attendee said about the training that, “all subjects and speakers were very informative, meeting and talking with fellow growers-always a plus.” Another said they valued, “learning how to connect and strengthen customer relationships through demographics, their needs and offering products through direct sales.” In addition to the collaboration between Amanda Osborne of OSUE Cuyahoga County and the Direct Marketing Team, Ivory Harlow of the Center for Cooperatives shared information about cooperative development with the attendees.

    • The Direct Marketing Team continues to collaborate with the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Ohio Proud Program. Team members supported two Ohio Proud Food Summits held in Columbus, and Wellington. The regional summits bring local food producers together with local food buyers. As a result, local food producers enter new markets and increase access to their locally produced foods.

    • Collaborated with the Ohio Proud Program to offer best marketing practices to Ohio Proud Partners – Columbus and Piketon and Milan; approximately 75 individuals attended.

    • Partnered with the OSU Resource and Ag Law Program and Wright & Moore Law, LPP to host the first annual Ohio AgritourismReady conference. More than 75 individuals attended the conference and learn how to grow their agritourism enterprises, how to manage liability, best marketing practices, and much more.  The conference was so well received that we are currently planning the second annual AgritourismReady conference which will be held March 10, 2018 in Piketon, OH.

    • Online video presentation to Heritage Ohio on how to have a successful farmers’ market in your community to 50 members of Heritage Ohio. According to their website, As Ohio’s official historic preservation and Main Street organization, Heritage Ohio fosters economic development and sustainability through preservation of historic buildings, revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, and promotion of cultural tourism.

    • Presented at three regional meetings (Toledo, Dayton, and Marion) of the Ohio Travel Association to make connections with local visitors’ bureaus and tourism organizations with Ohio Agritourism operators for the benefit of both groups. Association members have a better understanding of agritourism enterprises in Ohio and how they can be included in county tourism promotions to help attract visitors to their counties.

    • Was invited to present Facebook Basics and Using Social Media to Market Your Business to the Ohio State Beekeepers Association conference. This annual conference attracts nearly 400 attendees of which 100 attended these two presentations.

    • Team members Rob Leeds, OSU Extension Delaware County and Eric Barrett, OSU Extension Delaware County presented - Managing Your Online Presence and Customer Service in Social Media and the Digital World at the 2017 North American Farm Direct Marketing Association (NAFDMA) Annual Convention, in February in Mystic, Connecticut.

    In addition team members presented a variety of marketing trainings throughout Ohio including; Best Marketing Practices, Identifying Your Target Market, Getting MarketReady, How to Develop a Marketing Plan, Farmers’ Markets Basics, Connecting with Your Customers, and Value Added Opportunities among others.

    The team also rebranded and updated the Maps & Apps curriculum, now DeviceReady – Managing Your Online Presence.  The inaugural presentation of DeviceReady was held in conjunction with the Small Business Development Center at Columbus State Community College. The program was so well received it is being offered again on April 17, 2018 for CSCC and on April 24, 2018 for the Ohio State Beekeepers Association members.

    Team members published two factsheets; Selling Eggs in Ohio: Marketing and Regulations and Maps, Apps and Mobile Media Marketing both of which are available via Ohioline.

    Team members Eric Barrett, Peggy Hall and Emily Adams completed a project with others across campus, entitled, “Removing Barriers to the Direct Marketing of Farm Foods in Ohio,” as part of an OSU Cares Grant. The project surveyed farmers’ market managers and health departments, and gained input from farmers around Ohio. Four themes were evident that need addressed in Ohio. The project team will work with ODA, ODH and others in Ohio to review the results and to make plans for reducing barriers to entry in the coming year.


  12. Pike County Nutritional Sciences Field Day, The Story of the Strawberry

    By: Dan Remley, MSPH, PhD, Assistant Professor and Field Specialist of Food, Nutrition, and Wellness

    According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings, Pike County ranks 88 out of 88 counties. The rankings are based on obesity rates, health behaviors, healthy food access and other socio-ecological determinants of health. Pike County also ranks low in terms of students who complete post-secondary education training. Many of Pike County’s health problems mirror those of the larger Appalachian region and are attributed to socio-ecological determinants such as lack of healthy food access, food preparation skills, lack of awareness of nutrition science, traditional preferences for high calorie foods, food insecurity and poverty.

    OSU Extension in Pike County and OSU South Centers developed and coordinated the Nutritional Sciences Field Day: The Story of the Strawberry to address some of the aforementioned challenges. The program was offered at OSU South Centers on May 25 to local high school agriculture and vocational, family and consumer science, and other science classes. The program objectives were to provide experiences and opportunities to increase awareness and interest in health science, food science, biotech, and ag science, basic and applied nutrition science and physiology and finally food production, local food resources. The students learned about opportunities from industry and academic leaders in various food and health sectors such as dieticians, biotech engineers, OSU faculty, and food processing. Students also participated in various hands on activities and discussion related to nutrition.

    Around 60 students and teachers from 3 Pike County Schools attended the program. Before they had left, each student was asked to complete a program evaluation rating their awareness and interest on various topics before versus after program (results attached). Students were also asked what they had learned. Following the field day, students were more aware of the role that genetics play in play in fruit quality and nutrition, the daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables, and the nutritional benefits of small fruits. Students were also more interested in careers in agriculture, health and food sciences, and also more interested in buying local fruit.

    When asked what they had learned, several remarked that they had learned much about research, strawberry properties, nutrition, and careers.


    Two awards received during the annual Extension Conference

    1st place- Epsilon Sigma Phi Team Teaching Award for More Than One Program Area- Recognizes Team Teaching that involved faculty and staff from more than one Extension program area including Family and Consumer Sciences, Community Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Youth Development. The OSU South Centers team received the award during the annual meeting of Epsilon Sigma Phi held on the Ohio State University campus.

    Epsilon Sigma Phi Distinguished Team Award- The award recognizes significant contribution to state Extension program planning and delivery.  Epsilon Sigma Phi is a professional organization dedicated to fostering standards of excellence in the Extension System, supporting the Extension profession, and developing the Extension professional.  Awards are presented annually to Extension professionals dedicated to fostering standards of excellence in the Extension System and developing the Extension profession and professional.

    Both awards recognized team members:

    Brad Bergefurd
    Dennis DeCamp
    Jeff Fisher
    Gary Gao
    Carol Hamilton
    Thom Harker
    Tammy Jones
    Chelsea Peckny
    Dan Remley
    Karima Samadi
    Vinayak Shedekar
    Ryan Slaughter

  13. Lijun Cai visits the Soil Team

    Lijun Cai, a Research Associate in the Sustainable Agricultural Technology Institute of the Jiamusi Branch of Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences in China, visited the Soil, Water and Bioenergy Resources Program in late 2017. She has been working at the academy since 2014. Her field of research interests are: Sustainable agriculture; Cover crop; Conservation tillage; Soil health; and Semi-dwarf soybean breeding.

    She was a short-term scholar studying recent developments in U.S. sustainable agricultural management practices, including the most recently developed analytical techniques. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. on Plant Nutrition at the Department of Land Resources and Environment of the Shenyang Agricultural University in Liaoning, China.

  14. USDA-Capacity Building, NCR-SARE Partnership, and CRDF U.S.-Ukraine collaborative research grants

    By: Rafiq Islam, PhD, Soil, Water, and Bioenergy Resources Program Director

    Several program specialists and scientists at the Ohio State University (OSU) South Centers have received USDA-Capacity Building, NCR-SARE Partnership, and CRDF US-Ukraine collaborative research grants in recent months.

    The Ohio State University joined in a collaborative partnership with Central State University (CSU) through a project ($592,493) funded by the USDA National Institutes for Food and Agriculture under the 1890 Land Grant Institution Capacity Building Program. Rafiq Islam, Brad Bergefurd, and Matthew Smith are the OSU investigators, who will help to guide CSU’s capacity building to provide academic education, conduct applied research, and disseminate Extension outreach on water chemistry of aquaponics production system over a 3-year period. Both CSU and OSU will jointly disseminate findings from the study to urban youth, and disadvantaged farmers, environmentalists, and other stakeholders.

    Rafiq Islam and Natalia Didenko (a former USDA-FAS Borlaug fellow from Ukraine) received a 1-year collaborative grant proposal funding ($107,000) from the CRDF Global* 2017 U.S.-Ukraine Agricultural Research Competition. The goal of the project is to develop suitable agricultural management practices based on novel and holistic approaches of crop diversification with plant stress alleviator (salicylic acid - aspirin) under continuous no-till that help to improve soil quality, water- and nutrient-use efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emission, and increase economic crop productivity with enhanced agroecosystem services.

    The research team members from the Institute of Water Problems and Land Reclamation, Kyiv, the Institute of Irrigated Agriculture, Kherson State Agrarian University, Dnipro State Agrarian University, and The Ohio State University. Funding for year one of this project will help to establish the test plots for what is hoped to be a long-term effort to identify the most promising agronomic combinations to maintain and/or improve soil health and agroecosystem services in dry conditions in Ukraine.

    Proven traditional and electronic outlets will be used for outreaching Ukrainian clientele to show agriculture is not the problem, but a part of the environmental solution.

    Rafiq Islam and Vinayak Shedekar in collaboration with Alan Sundermeier from The Ohio State University Extension - Wood County has received a collaborative grant funding ($29,980) from the USDA NCR-SARE Partnership Program. The goal of the project is to develop soil health testing, interpretations, management recommendations for farmers by the team of soil scientists, and extension educators. Farmers growing grain and vegetable crops in Ohio, and representing a wide range of practices such as no-till, conventional tillage, cover crop, and crop rotations will be reached by the program.

    *CRDF Global is an independent non-profit that was originally named the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union (CRDF) and was funded by the U.S. Government under the Freedom Support Act.


  15. Soil health and environmental analytical services at OARDC-Piketon Soil, Water, and Bioenergy Resources Lab

    By: Rafiq Islam, PhD, Soil, Water, and Bioenergy Resources Program Director

    The OARDC-Piketon Soil, Water and Bioenergy Resources Lab at The Ohio State University South Centers has recently started to provide soil health, air quality and greenhouse gas emission, water quality, plant, manure, fertilizer and chemical, and other environmental analytical services to clientele. The lab facility includes more than 2,500 sq. feet of analytical space for receiving, storing, processing, and analysis of various samples.

    The analytical equipment includes: Microbial preparation ventilated station and hood, Integrated Coupled Plasma Emission (ICPE) spectroscopy (72 chemical elements, including nutrients), HPLC-Mass spectroscopy, Fourier Transformation Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Carbon-Nitrogen-Sulfur analyzer, Dissolved Carbon and Nitrogen analyzer, Flow-injection auto-analyzer for nitrate, ammonium and phosphates, UV-VIS-IR spectroscopy, Gas chromatographs (HP and Shimadzu) for CO2, CH4, and N2O, High-powered microwave digestion system, Hot-plate digestion, Pressure plate membrane apparatus for water retention and potentials, Aggregate stability analyzers, and other equipment for routine analysis.

    Do you need high-quality certified biological, chemical and physical analysis of your samples? Visit our website to check the variety of analytical services and the fees associated with the analysis.