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Goehring awards $2.7 million in specialty crop block grants

BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota Agriculture Department has awarded 24 grants totaling more than $2.7 million to promote the development, cultivation, production and sales of specialty crops in North Dakota.

“North Dakota is already a leading producer of several specialty crops, such as dry edible beans, dry peas, potatoes and lentils,” Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “As our farmers seek to diversify their production, these grants help provide important information through specialty crop research, education, and trade missions.

Of the $2,714,601.80, projects at North Dakota State University received $2,122,319. Other grants went to the North Dakota Agriculture Department, North Dakota Sunflower Association, National Agricultural Genotyping Center and the North Dakota Trade Office. 

The total 2019 grant amount for North Dakota was slightly less than the 2018 total of $2,811,464.82. 

The grants are distributed based on a formula that takes into account specialty crop acreage and production value. Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.”

The Agriculture Department received 48 applications for grants, which were reviewed and scored by a select committee and approved by Goehring. Of the 48 applications, 24 were forwarded to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service for final approval.

The Agriculture Department also received $232,738.04 to administer the specialty crop block grant.

The following organizations and agencies received 2019 grants:

  • North Dakota State University (NDSU) — $226,888.00 to study high-throughput phenotyping for genetic dissection of Aphanomyces root rot in dry pea.
  • NDSU — $102,026.00 to improve detection capacity and resistance evaluation for control of nematode diseases in potato.
  • NDSU — $27,875.00 to study root rot of lentil, including evaluation of crop rotation, biofumigation and risk assessment.
  • NDSU — $81,767.00 to study the optimization of fungicide timing, row spacing, and winter rye for improved Sclerotinia management in dry beans.
  • NDSU — $136,270.00 to study pulse proteins, from varieties and processing to structure-function relationships.
  • NDSU — $203,343.00 for vetting and implementing genomic selection for pea quality improvement.
  • NDSU — $223,122.00 to study vine desiccation as a strategy to manage Verticillium wilt of potato by reducing soil inoculum.
  • NDSU — $202,040.00 for increasing breeding efficiencies in dry bean by using improved selection tools for cultivar development.
  • NDSU — $67,053.00 for on-farm validation of planting date as a tool for managing root rot in peas and lentils.
  • NDSU — $60,207.00 to apply statewide screening of wild oat for herbicide resistance.
  • NDSU — $75,751.00 for optimizing the deployment of bee-vectored Clonostachys rosea for managing Sclerotinia head rot in confection sunflowers.
  • NDSU — $63,438.00 for the field to fork program that promotes specialty fruits and vegetables by educating adults and children.
  • NDSU — $84,458.00 for evaluation and selection of improved haskap for North Dakota.
  • North Dakota Department of Agriculture - $27,164.80 for educating youth about specialty crops.
  • NDSU — $105,126.00 for creating a predictive framework for cold tolerance in North Dakota grape cultivars.
  • National Sunflower Association — $124,050.00 for enhancing rust resistance in confection sunflower production through next-generation technologies.
  • NDSU — $192,981.00 for the identification of economically important fruit quality traits in diverse grapevine genotypes for elite germplasm development.
  • NDSU — $71,796.00 for developing improved practices for fresh yellow potato production in North Dakota.
  • NDSU — $79,361.00 to apply fall-based weed control strategies in pulse crops.
  • NDSU — $28,507.00 to study microvinification of cold-hardy grapes.
  • National Agricultural Genotyping Center — $188,819.00 to apply DNA tests to reduce false positive reporting of soybean cyst nematodes in edible bean fields.
  • North Dakota Trade Office — $252,249.00 for establishing world markets for Upper Midwest specialty crops.
  • NDSU — $50,310.00 to study vine kill strategies for certified seed potato production.
  • NDSU — $40,000.00 to study breeding efforts to develop new and improved ornamental plants for North Dakota.

Applications for the 2020 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program for the timeframe of Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2022, will open in early December 2019 and close in January 2020. Applications will then be reviewed, scored, ranked and provided to Goehring to determine which applications will be forwarded to USDA for final approval in May 2020. Questions regarding this upcoming application process should be directed to Deanna Gierszewski at 701-328-2191 or