Twelve university specialty crop research projects received $35 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant awards were made through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, according to a news release, and authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Specialty crops generally fetch high value for the farmers, but require more intensive farming than conventional crops, such as wheat or corn,” NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy said in the release. “NIFA investments in specialty crop research provide high-tech solutions to the needs of farmers and processors.”
 
The new recipients of fiscal year 2017 grants are:
  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, $2.5 million: developing disease-resistant spinach varieties;
  • University of California-Santa Cruz, $2.5 million: integrating anaerobic soil disinfestation, crop rotation and variety for disease management in strawberry production;
  • University of California-Davis, $4,5 million: disease resistance breeding and management solutions for strawberries; 
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, $2,5 million: integrating next-generation technologies for blackleg and soft rot management in potatoes;
  • University of Georgia, Athens, $45,470: promoting systems-based extension research on gardens;
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, $3.2 million: developing a sustainable stevia industry in the U.S.:
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, $5.5 million: increasing low-input turf grass adoption;
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $6.5 million: accelerating grapevine cultivar development;
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $4.4 million: sustainable, systems-based approach for a safer and haealthier melon supply chain;
  • Texas A&M University, $3.3 million: development of genetic analytical tools for polyploid crop plants;
  • Texas A&M University, $46,550: systematic strategies to manage crapemyrtle bark scale, an emerging exotic pest; and 
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, $46,550: high-throughput sensing for potato production and breeding.
A complete description of the grant awards is available online.