Ohio may not be known as a blueberry state, but a group of Ohio State University scientists want to change that.
Led by Extension specialist Gary Gao, the group is working to revitalize the state's current blueberry plantings and encourage growers to expand their acreage, according to a news release.
A two-year U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crop block grant of $60,000 is helping fund the effort.
Among the techniques the group is exploring are high tunnels, which can improve blueberry yields by as much as 50 percent.
Ohio only has 378 acres of the blue fruit. But Gao said consumer demand far exceeds production.
A grower, for example, who harvests 3,000 pounds of fruit can earn $5 per pound, or $15,000 acres gross revenue.
"Adding blueberries to your crops is just another way to diversify and reduce risk," Gao said n the release. "Diversification is even more critical than ever this year because of the hard freezes in March and April that damaged peach crops and apple crops in many parts of the state."
To establish a blueberry field, growers need to invest $8,000 to $10,000 per acre for soil preparation, blueberry bushes, irrigation, materials and labor.
To help growers, Gao and his group are holding an introductory workshop, 6-9 p.m., June 14, at the OSU South Centers, 1862 Shyville Road, Piketon.
The cost is $10.
Call the centers at (740) 289-2071, ext. 223, to register for this hands-on program.