WSDA Picks Specialty Crop Grant Projects

posted in: News | 0

The Washington State Department of Agriculture has recommended 21 researchers and groups share $4.3 million in federal funds to study and promote specialty crops.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will review the recommendations and announce recipients of specialty crop grants for all states in the fall, though the USDA relies on states to solicit and evaluate applications.

WSDA proposes to fund projects ranging from $300,000 to promote potatoes on television to $55,000 to support a farm program at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Much of the funding will go to Washington State University professors and agricultural commissions.

WSU’s nine projects include a grant to create a website to help potato farmers timely apply chemicals.

The website, which is expected to take three years to fully develop, will be patterned after the WSU-Tree Fruit Decision Aid System, said Vince Jones, the system’s director.

The tree fruit website started in 2007 and provides growers with current information on the status of insects and diseases in their areas. The information helps growers decide when, where and how much to spray.

In several surveyors, fruit tree growers have estimated the system has saved them about $75 an acre, Jones said.

“Once people see it, start to use it, you get a lot of positive responses,” he said.

WSU plant pathologist Naidu Rayapati proposes a project to help growers of white wine grapes to convert to more-popular red wine varieties.

Rayapati plans to study and show growers how to graft red-wine varieties to the top of existing white-wine varieties without spreading viruses.

Pulling out vineyards and replanting could take fields out of production for three or four years, while top-grafting, done properly, could put vineyards back into production in two years, he said.

“The grower wants to catch up with the consumer demand as quickly as possible,” Rayapati said.

Washington ranks second in the nation behind California in specialty crops, according to WSDA.

Specialty crops include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and nursery crops. Nationwide, USDA awarded $63 million last year. The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the grants.

Below are the projects selected by WSDA:

• $300,000 to the Washington State Potato Commission to connect the public to Washington’s specialty crops through the Washington Grown television show. A nonprofit group, Washington Farmers and Ranchers, produces the show.

• $248,587 to WSU plant pathologist Naidu Rayapati for a project titled: “Gambling with grafting: analyzing risks and benefits of top-grafting for vineyard profitability and sustainability.”

• $248,479 to the Washington State Blueberry Commission to study improved irrigation practices for blueberries and raspberries.

• $247,461 to WSU Extension tree fruit specialist Tianna DuPont to research sustainable pear pest management.

• $245,428 to WSU viticulture professor Markus Keller to generate recommendations to help grape growers on cope with drought and heat.

• $243,023 to WSU entomologist Vince Jones to expand the WSU decision support system to potatoes.

• $229,733 to WSU Extension food processing specialist Girish Ganjyal for food safety training for small producers and food processors.

• $227,000 to the Washington State Tree Fruit Association for an acreage survey for tree fruits and grapes.

• $223,144 to Washington Department of Agriculture to develop distribution networks for farmers.

• $217,746 to WSDA to enhance nursery stock exports.

• $210,552 to WSU School of Food Science professor Meijun Zhu to validate non-pathogenic surrogates for Listeria monocytogenes antimicrobial interventions in fresh apple.

• $199,937 to WSU plant pathologist Hanu Pappu to use natural genetic resources for developing disease-resistant potatoes.

• $199,046 to WSU plant geneticist Rebecca McGee to enhance the sustainability of lentil production.

• $181,561 to Washington State Nursery & Landscape Association to develop and enhance local and regional markets of specialty nursery crops

• $152,600 to Rural Community Development Resources, a Yakima-based nonprofit, to enhance growers’ knowledge of food safety.

• $120,585 to the Northwest Cider Association to enhance and standardize quality of Northwest ciders.

— $120,000 to the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission to predict drift for orchard and vineyard air-blast sprayers.

• $103,722 to the WSU plant pathologist Gary Chastagner to manage botrytis gray mold on conifer nursery stock.

• $99,690 to WSDA entomologist Chris Looney for biological control of the lily leaf beetle.

• $89,600 to Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance Snoqualmie Valley for a water rights analysis.

• $55,000 to Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority for community farm program.

Don JenkinsCapital Press

Published on July 18, 2016 11:16AM

Picture: Courtesy of Naidu Rayapati