2014 Horticulture Research and Extension Achievements

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

Urban food hub organized and formed in 2014

A food hub to strengthen the local food system and increase access to healthy food in the Cincinnati area was formed in 2014 with support from the OSU South Centers Horticulture program, the OSU Direct Marketing Team and the Ohio Cooperative Development Center. The goals of the food hub are to increase organic vegetable production, sustain the food hub effort by developing and organizing training for farmers, and by creating family sustaining jobs in Greater Cincinnati. This effort began with the development of an incubator urban farm in April 2012, with an additional 100 acre farm leased and cultivated in 2014. In 2014, the incubator farm employed 20 people and 400 families purchased shares for a weekly Community Supported Agriculture Harvest box program. Our Harvest Cooperative aggregates produce, and supplies various retail and wholesale outlets. Our Harvest Cooperative is partnering with Cincinnati State’s newly launched Sustainable Agriculture Management Program which was spun off from the Specialty Crop Apprenticeship Training program started by OSU South Centers in 2013 where students come to the urban farm weekly for their practicum.

$100,000 Specialty Crop Block Grant received to explore new hop processing, plant propagation and production techniques

Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the State of Ohio, and the United States Department of Agriculture, Ohio hop research and Extension education have increased. Brad Bergefurd as the projects Principle Investigator, and co-Investigators Mary Gardiner of the Department of Entomology and Sally Miller of the Department of Plant Pathology are leading this hops project to further support the growth of the expanding Ohio hops industry and craft brewing industry. Ohio’s brewing industry is booming! Legislation in 2013 allows Ohio’s craft brewers to invest more money into their breweries, increasing the demand for Ohio-grown hops. Over 140 licensed Ohio beer manufacturers and thousands of home brewers send an estimated $30 million in hops purchases and related jobs out of Ohio by purchasing the flowers of the hop plant, called hop cones or "hops" from out-of-state. Hops are a main ingredient in beer manufacturing, providing a bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt sugars and a refreshing finish. Based on the increased interest from brewers in buying Ohio grown hops, Ohio farmers are investing in hops production. This project is providing the research based production guidelines for insect and disease management, irrigation and fertilization needed to produce Ohio hops in an ecological and economically sustainable manner. Further, Ohio growers are left without economical methods for post-harvest processing of hops that suit brewers’ needs and meets food safety guidelines. These are the critical priorities being addressed to move the hops industry forward. This project is expanding Ohio’s specialty crops research in hop production and is providing education and research focused on addressing Ohio hop production and processing issues that are impacting profitability of Ohio hop farmers, including plant nursery production, pest management, processing technology and grower education.

Horticulture program receives grant to conduct a three-year high tunnel training program

From field research the OSU South Centers began in 1996 and continues today, Ohio has faced an explosion of high tunnel production by mostly new producers due to conservation program incentives and an uptick in local foods and urban agriculture. High tunnels are a way to extend the season for fruit and vegetable crops. There is continued need for education at the beginner and advanced levels of pest management and production. Grafting techniques that add horticultural diversity and combat soil borne diseases, plus the introduction of a new fact sheet series on tomatoes has been incorporated into a three-year high tunnel training initiative, part of an $886,643 USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant. Brad Bergefurd is a co-principle investigator on this project.

Ohio has a huge demand for integrated pest management (IPM) training regarding high tunnels, with a mix of hundreds of existing seasoned operators needing advanced training, and a recent influx of almost 300 new growers requiring basic training due to the popularity of the Natural Resources Conservation Service EQIP High Tunnel initiative. The university-based and on-farm based training program that began at Piketon in April 2014 is for new and advanced growers, Extension Educators and Specialists who want to learn about high tunnel IPM and production management. This training program is comprised of a combination of on-site educational modules and experiential "in-tunnel" learning showing practical application.

Over 350 attend first annual Ohio Hop Growers Conference

We organized and taught the 1st annual Ohio Hop Growers Conference in Wooster, OH at the OSU OARDC campus on February 13th, 2014. With over 350 attendees, this workshop was a huge success! Brad Bergefurd was the Conference Moderator for the day-long conference and began the day with an overview of the hops industry in Ohio and the opportunities for Ohio farmers to grow for the ever-expanding Ohio Craft Brewing Industry. Other educators for the day (and topics) included: Andy Pax (beginner’s advice from an established grower), Chelsea Smith (pests and beneficial arthropods), USDA Farm service agency, Fulya Gurel (diseases and virus control and management in hops), Jason Channels (Ohio Department of Agriculture: food safety regulations and requirements for hops processing and sale), Dan Kamburoff (Irrigation design, setup, operation, fertigation and management for hops) and Eric Stockinger (Malting barley research and production opportunities in Ohio). A post-conference craft brewery tour was conducted at JAFB brewery in Wooster. The second annual Ohio Hop Conference will be held in partnership with the Ohio Craft Brewers Annual Conference on February 5 and 6, 2015 at the OARDC campus.

Brad Bergefurd, Horticulture Specialist and Extension Educator Agriculture & Natural Resources

Email: Bergefurd.1@osu.edu

Phone: 740-289-2071 ext. 136

 

Thom Harker, Research Assistant

Email: harker.4@osu.edu

Phone: 740-289-2071 ext. 177

 

Wayne Lewis, Farm Manager

Email: lewis.34@osu.edu

Phone: 740-289-2071 ext. 135

 

Charissa McGlothin, Program Assistant

Email: mcglothin.4@osu.edu

Phone: 740-289-2071 ext. 132

 

Chelsea Smith, Research Assistant

Email: smith.7231@osu.edu

Phone: 330-202-3555 ext. 2560