WSDA picks projects for USDA money

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The Washington State Department of Agriculture has submitted 20 projects to the USDA receive a total of $4.1 million in federal specialty crop grants.

The USDA is expected to announce grant recipients in the fall. The USDA last year funded all projects selected by WSDA.

The grants range from $75,000 to $250,000. Some of the money will be spent to promote sales of apples, asparagus, wine and other products. Some grants will fund research into such subjects as managing plant diseases and fertilizing with manure.

Several grants will fund research at Washington State University. A large grant will go to The Center for Produce Safety and the University of California-Davis to work on a reusable anti-bacterial liner for plastic containers.

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture.

The selected projects are:

• $250,000 to the Washington State Potato Commission: To support the “Washington Grown” television series and other videos that publicize Washington farms and crops.

• $250,000 to The Center for Produce Safety and UC-Davis: Unsanitary plastic containers can contaminate produce. Researchers are developing liners that can be cleaned with bleach and reused, according to a grant summary.

• $249,973 to WSU professor Pius Ndegwa: To make pellets from manure that are free of pathogens and weeds and economical to transport.

• $249,951 to WSU professor Sindhuja Sankaran: To detect diseases in stored potatoes. Farmers lose 6 percent of their potatoes in storage, according to the grant summary.

• $249,116 to Washington State Department of Agriculture: WSDA will work with the Washington Farm Bureau to help farmers sell cut flowers.

• $248,700 to WSU professor Richard Knowles: The Department of Horticulture will research cultivating potatoes with the right size and shape for french fries.

• $240,775 to USDA-Agricultural Research Service, John Henning: To breed drought- and heat-tolerant hops. Climate predictions suggest that the Yakima Valley will get hotter, threatening hops and craft beers, according to the grant summary.

• $230,155 to WSU professor Achour Amiri: To research spaying fungicides to manage gray mold, a major disease for apples and pears.

• $225,000 to Washington Wine Industry Foundation: To update an online guide for wine grape growers and processors. According to the grant summary, the updated guide will help producers “build and manage businesses that are economically viable, socially supportive and ecologically sound.”

• $216,497 to the Washington Hop Commission: The commission and USDA will research managing hop powdery mildew. According to the grant summary, the disease has become a serious problem for Cascade hops, the most widely planted variety.

• $200,000 to Viva Farms in the Skagit Valley: The farm helps new farmers and farmworkers go into business.

• $177,808 to WSU research scientist Carol Miles: To research technology for cider apple orchards, and develop pruning and harvest plans for small, medium and large orchards.

• $176,000 to Washington State Fruit Commission: To make videos and write articles in Spanish on topics such as food safety, worker safety and farm management.

• $165,134 to Washington State Wine Commission: To develop a wine education program to promote sales to international markets.

• $153,090 to WSDA and WSU: To continue research into how fertilizing red raspberries with manure affects food safety. According to the grant summary, red raspberry growers are not allowed to fertilize with manure. The soil is poorer, and farmers must replant more often.

• $120,000 to the Washington Asparagus Commission: The commission proposes to hire a marketing firm to promote April, May and June as fresh asparagus season in the Northwest. Washington asparagus farmers are increasing production after a two-decade decline, according to the grant summary. The goal will be for Washington, Oregon and Idaho consumers to absorb 50 percent of the new production. The industry assumes the other half will go to the other 47 states and Canada.

• $110,401 to WSU research scientist Pat Moore: To breed strawberries for the fresh fruit market. Washington strawberry growers primarily supply berries for processing, but that market has been declining, according to the grant summary.

• $105,560 to the Organic Seed Alliance: To market and cultivate purple sprouting broccoli and to release a new variety. Research will be conducted on farms in Clallam, Jefferson, King, Skagit and Snohomish counties.

• $80,968 WSU research scientist Gary Chastagner: To research controlling post-harvest botrytis disease in peony flowers.

• $75,000 to the Washington Apple Commission: To produce, film and translate into seven languages a video showcasing Washington applies. The video will target consumers in Mexico, Central America, India, the Middle East, China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Published on June 21, 2017 1:22PM