MSU receives three specialty crop grants

MSU News, Oct 14 2011

Three Michigan State University researchers were awarded federal grants totaling more than $5 million to boost specialty crop production in the United States.

The grants are part of 29 awards, totaling $46 million, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Institutions in 19 states are receiving the grants as part of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative that will be used to develop and share science-based tools to address the needs of America’s specialty crop industry.

Overall, the initiative will focus on improving crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; address threats from pests and diseases; improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; develop new innovations and technologies; and develop methods to improve food safety.

The three MSU researchers and their projects are:

  • Matthew Grieshop, assistant professor of entomology. Grieshop will use $2.5 million to develop ecologically sustainable production systems for apple and cherry producers.
  • Catherine Lindell, associate professor of zoology. Lindell will use $2 million to study ways to limit bird damage to fruit crops.
  • Ryan Warner, associate professor of horticulture. Warner will use $1.6 million to study genomics-based approaches to improve petunia production efficiency and performance.

“Our goal, as researchers, is to be responsive to new trends that not only affect growers, but also that help consumers end up with a better product,” said Doug Buhler, interim dean of MSU’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “These projects, and the grants from the USDA, move us forward in efforts to advance agriculture and economic development in a sustainable way.”

“Over the last 60 years, agriculture, including horticulture, has become increasingly reliant on science and technology to maintain profitable production,” said Kathleen Merrigan, USDA deputy secretary. “These projects will help provide specialty crop producers with the information and tools they need to successfully grow, process and market safe and high-quality products, supporting jobs and opportunities for Americans working in specialty crops.”

A full list of SCRI projects can be found at here.

Grieshop are Warner are MSU AgBioResearch scientists; Warner also is affiliated with MSU Extension.