Apr 19, 2022
Grant funded to research fertilizer additives to improve seed potato performance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $9.98 million to 14 collaborative, multi-state projects impacting 28 states to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops.

The funding is made possible through the Specialty Crop Multi-State Program (SCMP), reauthorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.

SCMP strengthens food safety, seeks new ways to address plant pests, disease and other crop-specific issues and increases marketing opportunities for specialty crops — fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and dried fruits to horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

Funding is awarded competitively to state departments of agriculture that partner with stakeholder organizations in two or more states. In this FY 2022 cycle, USDA received 79 applications and funded 14.

This year’s projects include:

  • The University of Iowa and Montana State University will collaborate to investigate a series of new fertilizer additives to improve the performance of sweet corn, seed potatoes and radishes, making them resistant to heat and drought stress and improving harvest yields.
  • The Washington State Department of Agriculture’s collaboration with Washington State University, Oregon State University, and USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) addresses climate change that threatens food security and has impacted global food production. Benefits will include information on cost-effective technologies to avoid or reduce the impacts of extreme heat, knowledge of physiological and genetic mechanisms that contribute to heat tolerance.
  • The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s collaboration with Washington, Oregon, California, Michigan and Vermont along with primary blueberry researchers and extension professionals will create a user-friendly tool to optimize plant mixes that decrease pests and support habitat creation in blueberries to increase pollination.
  • The University of Georgia Research Foundation will collaborate with Florida, Georgia and Alabama to address risks tied to bioaerosols from poultry and cattle production on adjacent property, which has impacted food-born illness outbreaks in fresh produce.
  • The Boston Area Gleaners’ collaboration in six New England states will increase access to the Boston market and reduce distribution cost through logistical efficiencies. This network will increase the volume of regional produce to consumers in eastern Massachusetts and connect food businesses across New England.
  • Mississippi State University will collaborate with North Carolina and Louisiana to address postharvest quality evaluation, grading and sorting of sweet potato storage roots in these three major sweet-potato producing states.
  • The South Carolina Department of Agriculture will collaborate with entities in Georgia and Alabama to develop and provide holistic fertilization guidelines to the stone tree fruit industry to understand the influence of orchard-specific characteristics on tree nutrient dynamics.
  • The Texas Department of Agriculture will collaborate with entities in Kansas and Indiana to study and disseminate a clear set of sod production and lawn management guidelines for improved, low-input zoysiagrass cultivars with valued attributes for consumers.

A full list of grant recipients and their project descriptions is available on the SCMP webpage.

To learn more about grant funding opportunities, visit the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Grants and Opportunities webpage.

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