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South Centers

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Small fruit progress

By Gary Gao, Ph.D., Extension Small Fruit Specialist and Associate Professor, OSU South Centers

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science

Ryan Slaughter, Research Assistant, OSU South Centers

2016 was a busy and productive year for our specialty fruit crops horticulture program area. We conducted Extension and outreach programs for commercial fruit growers, revised fact sheets for consumers, conducted applied research projects, received new grants, and participated in international activities.

Extension Outreach:

Three key educational programs were offered at OSU South Centers in Piketon. They were the Ohio Super Berry and Wine Grape Workshop in March, Ohio Super Berry, Container Fruit Production and Wine Grape Field Night in July, and Wine Grape Analysis Work in December. Our research and demonstration plots were featured at all of these programs in addition to classroom presentations and field demonstrations by Gary Gao, Patrick Pierquet, Dong Qin, Ryan Slaughter, and Todd Steiner.

We also offered numerous tours of our research plots to students, new and existing growers, our colleagues at The Ohio State University and several other universities. Our group also participated in the 25th year celebration of OSU South Centers in Piketon.

Dr. Gary Gao served on the planning committee for the 2016 Ohio Grape and Wine Conference in Dublin.  The program drew an excellent attendance in 2016 and evaluations were very positive.         

Dr. Gary Gao spoke at the OPGMA Congress, OEFFA Conference, Beech Creek Garden Symposium, Southwest Ohio Specialty Fruit and Vegetable School, Master Gardener volunteer training schools, and Farm Science Review in 2016. He also made several presentations in Chinawhich are highlighted in the International activities section.     

Dr. Gary Gao and Ryan Slaughter also updated and revised Extension fact sheets. 

The following revised fact sheets are now available on Ohioline:

Growing Apples in the Home Orchard -

Growing Peaches and Nectarines in the Home Landscape -

Raspberries for the Home Fruit Planting -

Growing Grapes in the Home Fruit Planting -

Growing Strawberries in the Home Garden -

Pruning Blueberry Bushes in the Home Garden -

Pruning Erect Blackberries in the Home Garden -


Research Projects:

Dr. Gary Gao and Ryan Slaughter had several on-going research projects at OSU South Centers in Piketon in 2016.  They were: Super Berry for Farm Diversification and Season Extension, Wine Cultivar Trial and Winter Protection, Container Fruit Production, and Chemigation for Pest Management.  Dr. Gao is also a Co-Principle Investigator of a multimillion dollar national USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) project with Dr. Heping Zhu of USDA in Wooster and Dr. Peter Ling of OARDC/OSU, along with other faculty members at The Ohio State University and several land grant universities in the U.S.  

In 2016, Dr. Gary Gao and Ryan Slaughter received a new specialty crop block grant from USDA through ODA to work on grafted blueberry “trees,” new processing blueberry cultivars and fertility management of blueberries.  The project started in November, 2016.  Stay tuned for more information.

Dr. Gary Gao along with several researchers at OSU South Centers received an OARDC equipment grant in 2016. With the help of several cooperators, supporters, and our director Dr. Tom Worley, we were able to purchase a ThermoFisher Ultimate 3000 UHPLC ultra high performance liquid chromatography system and a MSQ single quadrupole mass spectrometer. This new system will greatly enhance the research capacity of all research areas at OSU South Centers.