October 23, 2015

Grants Awarded to Grow Demand for Missouri Specialty Crops

(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) – The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced today that 12 projects across Missouri will receive grants given by the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program to strengthen the market for Missouri grown crops and produce. More than $398,000 in federal funding will be used to educate consumers and producers about Missouri specialty crops, increase production and enhance research to improve berry, grape, food safety, youth education and plant protection throughout the state.

The following projects were awarded grant funding for 2015: 

Cooking Classes, Demonstrations and Market Introductions for Low-Income Families (Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture) – to increase use of Missouri specialty crops in meals prepared by low-income families and increase attendance at the Columbia Farmers Market by low-income families. Organizing field trips, offering cooking demonstrations at a local food pantry, and giving cooking classes will result in increased sales of specialty crops - $36,800

Growing Blackberry Production and Sales in Missouri (Webb City Farmers Market) – to develop and increase blackberry production and marketing in Southwest Missouri and statewide by promoting, through a demonstration plot, workshops and field days, recently developed production practices, and newly available blackberry cultivars to farmers and by expansion of marketing efforts to ensure that increased production will be matched by increased sales - $15,907

Establishing a Hands-on Winter Production and Season Extension Education Site (Webb City Farmers Market) – to establish a hands-on learning center for winter production and season extension, designed for Hmong farmers and other specialty crop farmers in the region by providing hands-on workshops that focus on fall, winter and/or spring production - $60,452

Youth Gardening Education and Support (Kansas City Community Gardens) – to increase knowledge and support for Missouri’s youngest gardeners in their efforts to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in school and youth gardens by providing education, technical assistance, garden construction supplies and soil amendments to help ensure garden success for school and youth gardeners in the Kansas City area - $32,084

Expanding Educational Opportunities for Specialty Crop Farmers & Market Managers (Missouri Farmers Market Association) – to increase production and sales of Missouri specialty crops by providing training that results in better managed farmers markets and more successful specialty crop growers - $8,580

Determining and Mitigating the Potential Occurrence of Cyanide in Elderberries (Southwest Research Center, University of Missouri) – to determine and understand definitively if, and specifically where, cyanide occurs in both ripe and unripe elderberry fruits; develop highly sensitive methods to test for cyanide and its possible forms in elderberry fruit and use the results from these analyses to provide qualitative and quantitative information about the presence of cyanide - $29,775

Raspberry Production and Insect Protection Inside a Moveable High Tunnel (Bradford Research Center and Jefferson Farm and Gardens, University of Missouri) – to increase the knowledge and marketable production of organic raspberries in Missouri by demonstrating methods of growing using moveable high tunnels and caterpillar tunnels to increase fruit yield and quality and deter Spotted Wing Drosophila - $37,401

Effect of Elderberry Rust on Plant Growth, Yield and Juice (Center of Agroforestry, University of Missouri) – to decrease knowledge gaps regarding the infection level at which elderberry rust reduces plant growth, fruit yield, and juice quality.  Fill knowledge gaps regarding the rust pustule density at which elderberry production and juice quality is adversely affected by providing producers with new information on the infection level, pinpointing which disease control is needed – $26,325

Increasing the Decision-making of Scaling-up Production for Specialty Crops (University of Missouri Extension, Jefferson County) – to provide education to Missouri farmers and producers to increase their decision making of scaling up production for specialty crops through 13 workshops across the state over a three year period - $36,627

Genetic Study of Rooting Ability in Vitis aestivalis-derived ‘Norton’ Grape (Darr School of Agriculture, Missouri State University) – to increase knowledge of the genetic determinants of the Norton grape by determining whether the Norton grape can be improved in the hybrid population and by seeking knowledge of any factor that promotes or constrains rooting ability and guidelines that allow the incorporation of rooting ability as a selection criterion in strategic or operational breeding plans - $49,988

Continuous Evaluation of Seven New Grape Varieties from the Cross of Norton and Cabernet (Center for Grapevine Biotechnology, Darr School of Agriculture, Missouri State University) – to select promising new varieties for further evaluation of enological characteristics by conducting an assessment of seven new grape varieties for their viticultural characteristics in 2015 and 2016 - $19,550

High Tunnel Production/Rotation of Primocane Bearing Raspberries in Grow Bags (Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, Missouri State University) – to determine which varieties of primocane bearing raspberries are best for production in grow bags in this region by investigating the production in grow bags rotated in and out of high tunnels and rotated into a high tunnel after late winter planted vegetables are harvested that may add a profitable crop to their mix, ultimately leading to greater economic farm sustainability - $13,500

For more information on the Missouri Department of Agriculture and financial assistance available to Missouri producers, visit the Department online at agriculture.mo.gov.