Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

UDAF Awards More Than $300,000 in Specialty Crop Grants

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) has approved 18 projects to receive a total of $314,578.39 from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program (SCBGP). The UDAF received 26 proposals this year. Nationwide USDA awarded about $113 million of SCBGP funds to the 50 US states, and six territories and commonwealths.

The selected projects demonstrated a measurable benefit for the specialty crop industry and are expected to assist more than just a single producer. Recipients were selected based on USDA requirements that projects enhance the competitiveness of other Utah specialty crop producers. The USDA defines specialty crops as: “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.”

Proposals were required to fit into at least one of the major goals of the USDA SCBGP:

  •       Increase awareness of specialty crops among consumers
  •       Increase consumption of specialty crops
  •       Increase production of specialty crops.

One project, which is designed to increase apple production by everyone from backyard growers to the largest commercial growers statewide will be conducted by Utah State University. The project, called Improving Codling Moth Management by Getting a Better Biofix, will test a recently developed model for determining when codling moth eggs hatch and larve start to bore into fruit.

“This model relies on elevation and latitude, rather than trapping,” said project lead, Dr. Diane Alston. She said that trapping doesn’t always provide the best information, because it relies on large populations of moths and daily checking of traps for the most accuracy. The new model relies on temperatures and degree days that are based on latitude and elevation to predict hatch dates.

In 2016, USU project staff will be out at orchards throughout Utah comparing the predicted egg laying and hatch dates with actual observations. Once they validate an accurate predictive model, using the model will allow growers to reduce pesticide use and increase production.

Specialty Crop Block Grant Projects awarded in Utah are:

1.       Improving Codling Moth Management by Getting a Better Biofix. Utah State University (USU). $25,425.

2.      New Protection Approaches for Pepper and Tomato: Techniques to Reduce Fruit Losses. USU. $17,775.

3.      Legume Understory Cover Crops for Sustaining Soil Fertility, Tree Growth, and Yield in Mature Peach Orchards. USU. $11,563.

4.       Educational Youth Garden Programs in Moab. Youth Garden Project $22,753.

5.       South Salt Lake Community Connections to Agriculture. Have Neighborhood. City of South Salt Lake. $10,000.

6.       Education in Urban Production Methods of Specialty Crops and Health Benefits of Consuming Specialty CropsThe Green Urban Lunchbox. $24, 908.

7.       Efficacy of chemical and biological control products for fire blight management during the growing season USU. $6,571.07.

8.       Grafted Watermelon. Davis Conservation District. $15,419.96

9.       4-H Learn, Eat, Grow. USU. $22,347.60

10.    Raising Awareness of Specialty Crops through a USDA Peoples Garden at Thanksgiving Point, maintained and managed by 4-H Growing Leaders. Thanksgiving Point Institute. $15,375.

11.    Aquaponic Research and Education Demonstration Garden. UDAF $11,641.39

12.    City Roots After-School and Summer Gardening Classes. Wasatch Community Gardens. $20,000.

13.    Effect of “drought tolerant” labeling on consumers’ preferences and willingness to pay for nursery crops. USU. $17,850

14.    New Roots Specialty Ethnic Crop Project Continuation. International Rescue Committee. $30,637.

15.    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Utah Promotion Program Support. Great Salt Lake Resource Conservation and Development (GSLRC&D) Council. $15,592.

16.  Utah Vegetable Production and Pest Management Guide: 2nd Edition. USU. $20,073.00

17.  Sunflower Microgreens. Phoenix Tears Nursery. $12,808.00

18.  Management and education for Tobacco mosaic virus in vegetables and ornamentals. USU. $14,019.37.

 For expanded descriptions of specific projects, contact:

Jack Wilbur,

(801) 538-7098

(801) 243-2801 cell