The demand for blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries has exploded in recent years thanks to consumers who enjoy the berries for their many health benefits, said Gary Gao, an Ohio State University Extension specialist and associate professor of small fruit crops at The Ohio State University South Centers at Piketon.
Gao is studying how growing raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries in containers can help make the canes more winter-hardy. The hope is that growers see not only a boost in yield, but also in returns.
In the two-year research project, Gao will plant some blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries in containers and then either move the containers into sheltered area such as an unheated barn before extreme cold temperatures arrive.
Gao noted commercial berry growers in Ohio have experienced winter injury to many berry crops, especially if the berries were not protected before winter hit.
“Even blueberries, which typically can withstand cold temperatures, have been subject to winter injuries in Ohio the past two years,” he said.
Gao will also study berries in containers grown under protective covers and compared to conventional growing. He also hopes berries grown in containers will help extend the growing season, “since fruit plants in containers can be moved to warmer environments earlier or later to speed up or delay the fruit harvest season to maximize profit margin.”
Gao’s project is funded through a USDA specialty crop block grant through the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Gao said. Work on the project is underway now.
Source: Growing Produce