If you’re seeking more berries from your strawberry plants or want to know how to start growing them, an upcoming field night could be where your questions are answered.
Those who attend the May 25 workshop at the Ohio State University South Centers in Piketon, can step into a greenhouse and see how strawberry plants stacked atop each other grow year-round. Perhaps even more unusual, a robot will demonstrate how it can eliminate the back-straining work of picking berries.
Because taste is what sells a strawberry, field night attendees can participate in a blind taste test of 18 varieties of strawberries, including some grown in California and Florida.
“We wanted to throw those in along with the 15 varieties we picked from our field just to see if they can tell the difference between store-bought berries and good old freshly-picked berries,” said Brad Bergefurd, horticulture specialist with Ohio State University Extension. Both OSU Extension and the South Centers are part of The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Since 1999, Bergefurd has researched strawberry production, and his current study, which is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, examines ways to extend the strawberry growing season in Ohio, where plants are typically harvested in June. Using various methods, Bergefurd has determined ways to stretch Ohio’s strawberry growing season from April through the end of November outside or in a greenhouse.
Bergefurd, who is leading the workshop, will share his knowledge on production technologies that can significantly increase yields.
For example, strawberries can grow outdoors during winter on a bed of plastic. The method involves planting strawberries in September and growing them over the winter using plastic to keep the soil warm and keep the weeds down. The method leads to larger, sweeter berries during an earlier harvest period.
The strawberry field night will be at the OSU South Centers Auditorium,1864 Shyville Road in Piketon, and will start at 5:30 p.m., with a light supper. Registration is $25 per person or $40 per family/farm, up to three people. To register, contact Charissa Gardner at email@example.com or at 740-289-2071 ext. 132. The registration deadline is May 23.