BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has awarded 27 grants totaling over $2.3 million to promote the development, cultivation, production and sales of specialty crops in North Dakota.

"North Dakota is already a leading producer of several specialty crops, such as dry edible beans, dry peas, potatoes and lentils," Goehring said. "As our farmers seek to diversify their production, these grants help provide important information through specialty crop research, education and export opportunities. The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved $2,375,085.11 for the 2016 grants. Last year, North Dakota received $2,405,432.62. The grants are distributed based on a formula that takes into account specialty crop acreage and production value. Specialty crops are defined in law as 'fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture."

Organizations and agencies receiving grants include:

North Dakota State University (NDSU) - $34,221 for evaluation of Anthracnose tolerance in 16 partially resistant dry bean lines for germplasm enhancement.

NDSU - $115,133 for population structure and aggressiveness of Aphanomyces euteiches on field pea.

NDSU - $53,319 for optimizing fungicide application timing for control of white mold in pinto, black, and navy beans.

Northern Pulse Growers Association - $108,000 for the collection of glycemic data to support the marketing of pulse and pulse ingredients.

NDSU - $36,389 for rootstock evaluations to enhance nursery crop production and performance.

NDSU - $53,577 for the development of improved fungicide application strategies for managing Sclerotinia head rot in confection sunflowers.

NDSU - $62,636 for optimizing agronomic practices for faba bean production.

NDSU - $37,473 to evaluate cider apple cultivars and rootstocks.

North Dakota Trade Office - $131,333 for International Specialty Crop Expansion.

NDSU - $94,957 for sustainability and utility of verticillium wilt resistance in French fry potato cultivars.

NDSU - $86,797 for breeding and selection of vegetable crops for the northern climate.

NDSU - $56,739 for development of lentil cultivars with tolerance to sulfantrazone.

NDSU - $142,406 for characterization of a new pea seedborne mosaic virus variant affecting field peas.

NDSU - $137,131 for development of potato blight application for sustainable potato production.

NDSU - $70,532 to determine the effect of glyphosate and dicamba drift on yield and seed quality.

NDSU - $83,816 to develop weed and fertilizer management practices for organic production of raspberry and blackberry.

National Sunflower Association - $113,496 to apply genomic tools to accelerate breeding for disease resistance in confection sunflower.

NDSU - $47,880 for development of a mitigation strategy to soft rotting pathogens affecting seed potato production.

NDSU - $48,017 to assess the potential for remote sensing of potato virus Y in seed fields-nutritional deficit.

NDSU - $90,646 to use biofertilizers to enhance mutualisms between specialty crops and beneficial insects.

North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) - $154,010.78 to increase specialty crop access to schools, communities and people with food insecurity.

NDSU - $81,740 to improve potato tuber uniformity.

Dakota Prairies Resource Conservation & Development Council - $199,351 to grow specialty crops to improve healthy food access on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Burnt Creek Nursery - $102,951.33 for production of NDSU hardy woody plant releases.

NDSU - $58,827 to use differential thermal analysis to evaluate cold hardiness in woody plant material.

NDSU - $84,228 for training dates and techniques for increasing yield on hop.

NDSU - $89,479 for production of leafy green vegetables in controlled environment systems.

NDDA received 35 applications, which were reviewed and scored by a select committee and approved by Goehring. Of the 35 applications, 27 were forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for final approval.

NDDA received $185,227.12 to administer the specialty crop block grant.

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