October 27, 2020

Specialty Crop Block Grants Awarded to Grow Production within Missouri Agriculture


The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced today that thirteen projects across Missouri will receive grant funding from the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program to strengthen the market for Missouri grown specialty crops.

More than $425,000 in federal funding will be used to create management plans for vineyards infected with Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV), identify high yielding herbicide-tolerant tomato varieties, determine the feasibility of growing watermelons under protected systems, and specify which varieties of Southern Highbush Blueberries will work well in Southwest Missouri.

Grant funds will also be utilized to research and develop growth of mushrooms, husk tomatoes, lavender, sweet potatoes, elderberries.


The following projects were awarded grant funding for 2020: 

  • Alternative Host Plants of GRBV in Missouri Vineyards
    University of Missouri - $16,538.00
    Survey host plants of E. carinata and E. binotata found within or on the periphery of vineyards infected with Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV)., and create management plans for either the insect vectors, the control of host plant reservoirs of GRBV or a combination approach.
  • Identifying Herbicide Tolerance in Tomatoes and Assessing Fruit Safety
    University of Missouri- $39,388.00
    Enhance profitability of fresh market production of tomatoes by identifying high-yielding varieties with reduced sensitivity to herbicide drift.
  • Expanding Watermelon Production and Market in Missouri
    Missouri Vegetable Growers Association- $44,740.00
    Coordinate research for on-farm trials and feasibility of growing watermelons under protected systems (low and high tunnels) to reach the Fourth of July market.
  • Evaluation of Southern Highbush Blueberry Varieties Adaptability to Southwest Missouri
    Missouri State University- $16,380.00
    Evaluate the potential of southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium Darrowi x V. virgatum) varieties as a viable crop in southwest Missouri. 
  • Raising the Profile and Sales of Specialty Crops in the West Central Region
    Osage Farmers Alliance - $49,339.00
    Enhance the wholesale market for locally grown specialty crops in west central Missouri and encourage other specialty crop farmers to expand their growing operations by entering the wholesale market.
  • Evaluation of Satellite Mushroom Prefabricated Pod Production
    Missouri State University - $25,862.00
    Evaluation of satellite mushroom prefabricated pod production and alternative methods to determine best practices and economic feasibilities of the different production practices.
  • High Tunnel Production of Physalis to Expand Missouri’s Vegetable Market
    University of Missouri - $22,173.00
    Compare cultivars of Physalis (husk tomatoes) in high tunnels and in the field. Fertility treatments of potassium will also be compared to determine Physalis yield and quality response.
  • Growing the Lavender Industry in Missouri
    University of Missouri - $39,274.00
    Determine a set of standardized growing practices for lavender in Missouri, such as plant establishment and soil preparation, winter protection, cultivar selection, plant phenology, insect and disease issues, optimal flower and oil production parameters, and fertilization.
  • Improving Urban Soils through Sweet Potato Production
    Cultivate Kansas City - $15,082.60
    Develop and research a technique to grow sweet potatoes to improve the profitability and productivity of urban and peri-urban farms. This method should quickly improve soil organic matter, increase nutrient cycling, increase water infiltration, promote beneficial organisms, and decrease costly inputs.
  • Pest Management to Enhance the Profitability of Missouri Elderberry
    Lincoln University- $23,924.00
    Provide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools for eriophyid mites, Phyllocoptes wisconsinensis and Epitrimerus trilobus in elderberry production. Research will be conducted to identify native predaceous mites and determine their effectiveness. 
  • Feasibility of Producing Sweet Potato Transplants and Field Production in Missouri
    University of Missouri - $47,928.00
    Assess and implement on-farm sweet potato slip production under protected systems (low and high tunnels), as well as determining the economic feasibility for early field planting, production season length, yields and cost reductions from the slips.
  • Learning to Love and Grow Specialty Crops at the Market
    Webb City Farmers Market- $38,296.64
    Creating an on-site market garden to provide new opportunities to educate adults and children about specialty crops at the market.  Demonstrations will be offered for growing methods such as raised beds, sequential planting, cover cropping and examples of various mulches.    Formal and informal learning opportunities will be based, in part, on the USDA’s SNAP-Ed Connection Nutrition Education Curricula and Materials covering cooking, farmers markets, food safety, gardening and healthy eating.
  • A Marketing Campaign Celebrating Missouri’s Specialty Crop Growers
    Missouri Department of Agriculture - $12,535.12
    Statewide advertising campaign to promote the Missouri Grown specialty crop industry for berries, peaches, apples, pumpkins and Christmas trees.


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