By Ryan Slaughter
Despite all the changes brought on by COVID-19 in everyday life, activity for the research farm has changed very little.
The presence of the specialty crops team to accomplish all the intricate day-to-day duties required to raise a healthy crop of fruits for research and Extension purposes has never ceased. Weeding, mowing, spraying, planting, and harvesting are activities that continue.
Some highlights, as the growing season comes to a close, come from the fruit that has been (and is still being) harvested. The last of the wine grapes, traditionally the last fruit crop to be harvested at the Ohio State University South Centers, were picked and data recorded the week of October 12. These grapes are used to make wine and later evaluated for quality and flavor. The South Centers Research and Extension Vineyard is one of three within The Ohio State University system; the other two are in Wooster at Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Kingsville at Ashtabula Agriculture Research Station (AARS).
As of October 23, the fruits of ripe hardy fig plants are being harvested, and this may very well continue as long as the temperatures stay above freezing. There is a replicated fig trial at South Centers with plants both outdoors and inside an un-heated high-tunnel, a plastic cover metal structure that helps collect and maintain heat units. Peak production for both the tunnel-grown figs and the outside-grown figs was October 9th, but fruit still continues to ripen.
Another highlight from the Small Fruits team is the move to virtual Extension programming. The Fall Fruit Update occurred on September 9 this year in the form of a Live Q&A session focused on five major crop types. Each Q&A was preceded with a short update on the crop, and these can still be viewed on YouTube by searching “Small Fruit Specialty Crops Update.”
Presentations on blackberry production and hardy fig and hardy kiwi production were also given by Dr. Gary Gao and Ryan Slaughter, respectively, at Farm Science Review 2020.
Those presentations can be viewed at fsr.osu.edu. Stay tuned for more virtual offerings from the team in the future.