U-M Scientists Receive USDA Grants For Specialty Crop Research

U-M Scientists Receive USDA Grants For Specialty Crop Research

Cold-climate grapes, hazelnuts will benefit from additional study.

Two University of Minnesota scientists will play key roles in research to be funded by recent USDA grants.

Don Wyse, U-M Agronomy and Plant Genetics Department, was awarded $903,909 for a project to develop an Upper Midwest bush-type hazelnut industry, based on native Corylus americana and its hybrids with the European hazelnut.

U-M horticulturalist Jim Luby will be working with Cornell University scientists on a project that will address the production and marketing constraints hindering the profitability and sustainability of emerging cold climate grape and wine industries in the Upper Midwest and Northeast. That project received a $2,511,333 grant.

USDA awarded a total of 29 grants across 19 states to develop and share science-based tools to address the needs of America's specialty crop industry. USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is awarding the grants, totaling $46 million, through its Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

SCRI supports the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops. Specialty crops are defined in law as "fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture." Funded projects address five focus areas: 1) improve crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; 2) address threats from pests and diseases; 3) improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; 4) develop new innovations and technologies and 5) develop methods to improve food safety.

SCRI gives priority to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional or trans-disciplinary; and include explicit mechanisms to communicate results to producers and the public. Each of the focus areas received at least 10 percent of the available funds. The majority of funded projects addresses two or more focus areas, and includes many collaborating institutions in addition to the awardee.

A full list of awardees can be found online at: www.nifa.usda.gov/newsroom/news/2011news/scri_awards.html.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

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