Building for Berries: New trellis systems installed at South Centers

Ryan Slaughter
Research Assistant

Despite the summer heat, outdoor activities continue at the South Centers’ research plots.  Most recently, construction and installation began on trellises for our cultivar evaluation and demonstration plots for both blackberries on Rotatable Cross-arm Trellis (RCA) and our hardy kiwis.

Blackberry production is a difficult venture here in Ohio because of its susceptibility to winter injury.  The RCA system has proven to be a very effective way for farmers to produce a good, high-quality blackberry crop from year to year, despite some very devastating winter temperatures we have experienced.

The way the RCA system improves on traditional trellis systems, simply, is that the entire trellis (blackberry canes included) can be laid flat on the ground and covered with a specially designed fabric called row cover to protect the plants throughout the winter. More and more growers are adopting this trellis system and require the technical assistance to learn the management requirements for this; the small fruits program at OSU South Centers will provide this assistance through workshops and online videos.

Hardy kiwi production is very similar to grape production, in respect to the trellis system on which it grows.  Hardy kiwi fruits are smooth-skinned and much smaller in size compared to their tropical, “fuzzy” relative. The vines’ growth habit are very similar to grapevines and require an extensive trellis system to support their vigorous vegetative growth. Besides determining the best-suited cultivars for our regional area, we will be able to offer farmers the technical assistance in raising this crop, something they can add to help diversify their products.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming workshops here at South Centers. Also, stop by and see Research Assistant Ryan Slaughter at the Farm Science Review (September 17-19, 2019) for a talk on Growing Fruit in Containers.