South Dakota State News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, October 17, 2022



Specialty Crop Sector in South Dakota Receives Grant Funding Support

PIERRE, SD – The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) awarded five projects over $390,000 to enhance the competitiveness of South Dakota specialty crops around the state. Support for these projects comes through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program administered by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Specialty crops eligible for this program include fruits, vegetables, nuts, nursery crops, and more.

“Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry, and we are proud of the work our specialty crop farmers are doing to increase demand for their products,” said the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Secretary Hunter Roberts. “We appreciate USDA’s continued support of the Specialty Crop Block Program and are excited for the innovative research, education and industry development to come under the 2022 program.”

The program funds projects for a three-year period which began September 30, 2022. These projects will benefit producers and consumers of specialty crops statewide through investment in sustainable production methods, season extension and alternate growing mechanisms, and producer capacity to expand the South Dakota special crop industry.

Some of the specialty crops grown in South Dakota through these projects include tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and passion fruit grown in a solar high-tunnel for year-round production, sweet corn grown under season-extending plastic in conjunction with cover cropping as a weed control method, lettuce and microgreens to test aquaponic system prototypes, and wine and seedless table grapes grown in field and greenhouse trials to examine freezing damage mitigation treatments.

Grant recipients include:

  • Wayward Springs LLC in Aurora, “Increasing The Economic Viability of Year-Round High Tunnel Production in South Dakota’s Climate”;
  • Cox Sweet Corn in Vale, “Profitable early market sweet corn using clear plastic mulch with cover crops for weed control”;
  • South Dakota Specialty Producers Association in Yankton, “Supporting specialty crop producers through education and training, support system development, and connection to industry”;
  • Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City, “EAT, SD”: Education and Training in Sustainability and Development (Part II)”; and
  • South Dakota State University in Brookings, “Mitigating freezing damage in emerging wine and seedless grapes during fall acclimation and spring deacclimation.”

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