October 20, 2017

Grants Awarded to Grow Demand for MORE Missouri Specialty Crops


The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced today that twelve projects across Missouri received grants funded by the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program. Missouri received more than $374,000 to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).

“Missouri agriculture is extremely diverse and supporting our specialty crops is essential to continuing that tradition,” Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said. “This year’s grant recipients will use their funding to reach more consumers through outreach and advocacy and empower more farmers to expand or diversify their operations.”

Selected through a competitive process, these projects focus on increasing sales of “Missouri Grown” specialty crops by investing in research for various specialty crops, evaluating new specialty crop rotation practices, providing improved nutritional education and marketing materials for consumers, and introducing on-farm consultations and workshops to small and midsized farmers about new and current agriculture technology.

The following projects received grant funding for 2017: 

  • Bringing Knowledge to Specialty Crops Farmers through Traveling Technology Kits (Webb City Farmers Market):  Create traveling technology and tool kits for on-farm consultations and workshops bringing agricultural technology to the small and midsized specialty crop farmers of southwest Missouri - $12,999.
  • High Tunnel Production/Rotation of Primocane Bearing Raspberries in Grow Bags (Missouri State Fruit Experiment Station, Missouri State University):  The final phase for the research trial of several varieties of primocane bearing raspberries in grow bags rotated in and out of a high tunnel with vegetable crops - $13,200.
  • Agronomic Practices for Growing Garbanzo Beans in Rotation with Other Crops in Missouri (University of Missouri – Fisher Delta Research Center):  Production research to determine the best large and small garbanzo bean varieties, planting dates and soils for growing with a watermelon rotation in southeast Missouri - $24,555.
  • Dissecting the Genetic Determinants of Cold Hardiness in Norton Grape (Darr School of Agriculture, Missouri State University):  Exploration of the heritability winter cold tolerance and the characterization of the genetic architecture of this trait in the Norton grape - $49,588. 
  • Market Garden Training for Specialty Crop Producers in the St. Louis Region (EarthDance Organic Farm School):  Offer an intensive educational workshop teaching from a profitable small-farm operation. Organize a delegation of growers to attend the MOSES conference in 2018. Assist a Farm & Garden Apprenticeship Program - $49,529.        
  • Organic Fertilizer and Soil Health Management for Specialty Crops Collective (Southeast Missouri State University):  Evaluate polysulphate as a soil conditioner and as an organic fertilizer. Evaluate soil health parameters to partition soil health improvement due to polysulphate and cover crop interaction - $15,741.         
  • Increasing Health and Consumption of Specialty Crops with the Joplin Empire Market Marketing Campaign (Downtown Joplin Alliance and the Joplin Empire Market):  Specialty crop marketing and promotion for the Joplin Empire Market with consumer educational marketing materials for adults and children, online media promotion, radio ads, banners, billboards, fliers, brochures, vendor signs, cooking demonstrations and educational gardens - $42,996.
  • Continuing Education about Native Edibles as Specialty Crops in Missouri (Lincoln University of Missouri):  Three regions in Missouri will offer marketing and education for specialty crop native edible plants including nettles, wild leeks, glade onions and goldenglow.  Workshops, cooking demonstrations and Dining Wild events will be conducted - $49,039.
  • Grafting Black Walnut Improved Cultivated Varieties and use of Irrigation to Increase Growth (Missouri State University):  Evaluate the effect of irrigation as a means of increasing tree growth and production of Black Walnut in upland soil and evaluate improved cultivar performance - $16,568.
  • Disease Tolerance of Sweet Potato Cultivars for Organic Production (University of Missouri):  Determine 10 commonly grown sweet potato cultivars for their resistance to the soilborne pathogen, Fusarium solani, causing Fusarium root rot - $20,244.                                
  • Development of Elderberry Flowers as a Viable Specialty Crop (Southwest Research Center, University of Missouri):  Research the potential of elder flower production in elderberry plantings primarily established for fruit (only) production, to measure the effects of harvesting a portion of elder flowers on fruit yield and quality, and to develop a significant science-based biochemical understanding of the health-giving compounds produced in elder flowers - $22,457.
  • Economic Contribution of the Missouri Specialty Crop Industry (University of Missouri):  Continuation of survey work to finalize the economic contribution of Missouri’s specialty crop industry. Events will reach Missouri specialty crop farmers and related businesses to validate the number of Missouri specialty crop farms, size and locations with estimated industry sales - $27,494.

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