2018 USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program Recipients

— Written By Mary Lorscheider

In an announcement from N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services on Thursday, December 13, 2018, two NC State University cucurbit research projects, Biosurveillance of Cucurbit Downy Mildew and Improving N.C. Pumpkin Production and Marketing were among 16 grant recipients from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program in 2018.

North Carolina State University will develop a bio-surveillance program for precision disease management of Cucurbit Downy Mildew through early detection of Pseudoperonospora Cubensis airborne sporangia, establishing crop risk and fungicide resistance, and disseminating results to stakeholders through grower meetings and field days.

Pumpkin is not well recognized as a cash crop in North Carolina (NC). Despite this, NC ranked fourth in U.S. pumpkin production in 2016, producing over 936,000 cwt on over 4,000 acres. Current value is $5,000-$9,000 per acre gross, although value could be increased 50% if high yielding cultivars are found, production practices optimized, and stem quality improved during curing. The industry has a strong interest in forming a NC Pumpkin Growers Association to better market their crop and support improved production. The NC State University horticultural science department and NC State Extension will lead this project to improve commercial pumpkin production and storage life and create a NC pumpkin commodity association with the NCDA&CS.

Read More about all sixteen grants awarded in NC.

The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is administered by the department and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the 2014 farm bill.

Read more about the NC Specialty Crop Block Grant program.