( Courtesy Florida Watermelon Association )

The Florida Watermelon Association is allocating $100,000 for research and development grants, to fight pests and diseases, study growing practices and other projects.

The association’s board of directors approved the research fund in March.

“Through direct contributions and letters of support to researchers applying for state and federal funding, FWA has facilitated several million dollars’ worth of research over the years,” Laura Land, association chairwoman and co-chairwoman of the group’s research committee, said in a news release. “Establishing a dedicated research fund will take us to the next level in supporting research with a direct impact on the success of all Florida watermelon growers.”

A seven-person committee will review and recommend research projects to fund, and the Florida Watermelon Association’s board of directors will vote on the projects to fund, according to a news release from the association.

The association appointed Cory Dombrowski as co-chairman with Land. Other research committee members are Mark Bryan, Bob Stewart, Dan Thomas, Phil Turner Jr. and James Carlton, according to the release.

The first project OK’d by the committee is a collaboration with Robert Hochmuth, of NFREC-Suwanney Valley, to focus on role of controlled-release nitrogen fertilizers in reducing leaching losses in Florida watermelon production, according to the release.

“Florida watermelon growers are working hard to be part of the solution to improve Florida’s water quality,” Dombrowski said in the release. “The Florida Watermelon Association is proud to support Dr. Hochmuth’s research to ensure efficient use of fertilizer to grow high quality produce with minimum impact on the water we all depend on.”