Twelve grants totaling over $600,000 have been awarded through the Colorado Department of Agriculture's 2017 Specialty Crops Program. Specialty crops include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture). Funds are received by the Colorado Department of Agriculture from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops.
"Colorado produces diverse specialty crops, from the more well-known potatoes and peaches to more experimental crops such as aronia berries, mulberries and hops," said Glenda Mostek, grants specialist, "This grant allows Colorado specialty crop producers to investigate new opportunities as well as improve conditions for crops that are Colorado favorites."
Fiscal year 2017 funds were recently approved by the USDA for the following projects:
- Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association, Alamosa, CO, $29,000 to facilitate a trade mission to Canada promoting Colorado seed potatoes.
- Colorado Department of Agriculture, Broomfield, CO, $36,180 to improve the food safety capacity of specialty crop producers and handlers through a cost-share program for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)/Good Handling Practices (GHP) inspections.
- Colorado Department of Agriculture, Broomfield, CO, $98,027 for development of a Colorado Pavilion at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Expo in 2018.
- Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Monte Vista, CO, $36,976 to study potato coatings that will extend and improve storage of potatoes.
- Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $59,699 to support small acreage, socially disadvantaged and beginning specialty crop producers and to fund a specialty crops coordinator.
- Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $24,913 to test aronia berry varieties for suitability for Colorado growing conditions.
- Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $32,225 to conduct metabolic analysis of quality of hops grown hydroponically in a greenhouse.
- Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $57,078 to investigate the prevalence of the newly discovered infestation of the Phylloxera louse in Colorado vineyards and recommend best management practices to limit the infestation.
- Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $91,966 to investigate remedies for peach cytospora canker.
- Hobbs Farm, Avondale, CO, $30,000 to study mulberry varieties for suitability for Colorado growing conditions and drought tolerance, as well as co-planting with perennial pollinator plants.
- Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project, Cortez, CO, $86,587 to increase availability of heritage apples through orchard restoration, variety trials and education.
- Guidestone Farm to School, Salida, CO, $21,500 to increase farm to school produce, create an apprenticeship program and incubator farm, and educate students about specialty crops.