Strawberry winter protection technique saves thousands in crop losses from polar vortex

By: Brad Bergefurd, MS, Horticulture Specialist and Extension Educator

Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program, strawberry winter protection techniques researched for Ohio conditions proved to help keep strawberry growers from experiencing total crop losses during the 2014 polar vortex event with several episodes of -10°F temperature conditions. Without protection, strawberry blooms can be injured at temperatures of 10°F. Strawberry yields were reduced throughout Ohio from the sub-zero polar vortex events, however, farms that had adopted the row cover protection systems researched at Piketon ended up protecting a percentage of their crop from total loss. Farms also have adopted the row cover treatments to protect their sensitive strawberry blooms from frost and wind-borne advective freeze events in the spring of 2014. Growers that adopted these winter protection techniques reported up to 40% higher yields than unprotected strawberry crops.

 

$165,000 grant received for Urban Agriculture Development

Thanks to the city of Dayton Community Development Block Grant for $165,000, Principle Investigator Brad Bergefurd along with Co-Investigators Tony Nye (Ag/NR Educator, Clinton County Extension) and Suzanne Mills-Wasniak (Ag/NR Educator, Montgomery County Extension) are leading this two-year urban agriculture development project which will greatly expand their previous urban agriculture initiatives across the city of Dayton. This project further explores new uses for over six thousand vacant lots within the Dayton city limits as a part of the "Vacant to Vibrant" Urban Agriculture Project. The City of Dayton and the Ohio State University Extension Montgomery County, Clinton County and the OSU South Centers program areas, Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, are major partners in this endeavor. The marketing plan is producing vegetables for the area’s Middle-Eastern ethnic population on vacant lots, thus helping to eliminate a Dayton area "food desert."

The Vacant to Vibrant project expanded the number of vacant lots developed as food production units in 2014. Two major benefits from the project are that vacant lots are given a new environmentally sustainable life and purpose and that the city, neighborhood, Extension, and culturally diverse groups collaborate to make a positive difference for the city of Dayton. Secondary benefits are: an underserved population is able to produce and have access to fresh local ethnic produce, refuge partners learned English and agricultural and marketing job skills, and limited resource participants learned to combine the use of ethnic and local food for healthy nutritional choices.