Idaho hop growers to add 1,500 acres this year

Hops are strung for processing in southwestern Idaho. Idaho hop growers have been recommended to receive a specialty crop grant.

Idaho’s specialty crop industry is in line to receive more than $1.8 million in USDA grants.

The state Department of Agriculture recommended USDA approve 13 projects under its Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

Nichole Britt, state Department of Agriculture grants and contracts program specialist, said USDA is expected to make final decisions in September and historically has approved the state department’s recommendations.

The state agency has awarded more than $10 million in specialty crop grants since 2009, and has seen results ranging from increased sales and product knowledge to greater product quality, sustainability and disease control.

Projects recommended for a combined $1,858,605 in funding are:

• Boise State University, $106,675 for web-enabled site suitability and visualization for the state’s specialty crop industry.

• Idaho Bean Commission, $99,921 for effective water management and soil conservation for sustainable bean production.

• Idaho Cherry Commission, $163,254 for selection of suitable tree architecture and rootstock for pedestrian cherry production in the state.

• Idaho Grape Growers and Wine Producers Commission, $314,640 for building momentum/strategic marketing to increase customer awareness of the state’s wines.

• Idaho Hop Growers Commission, $35,225 for creating awareness of the state’s hops through website development, social media and newsletters, and $107,040 for precision water management for agronomic, economic and environmental sustainability of hop production.

• Idaho Potato Commission, $114,328 to develop resistance to Pale Cyst Nematode in potatoes via loss of susceptibility, and $165,850 for a Taiwan marketing-enhancement program.

• Idaho Preferred, an ISDA program that identifies and promotes the state’s food and agriculture products, $272,365 for marketing specialty crops through advertising, social media, public relations and retail promotions.

• IdahoTruffle Growers Association, $111,189 to establish best practices for growing truffles and increasing yields in the state.

• Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee, $103,400 for building awareness and increasing sales of the region’s onions in domestic and international markets.

• University of Idaho, $123,648 for controlling nematodes in potatoes by enhancing a "suicide hatch" in absence of a host, and $141,070 for managing onion storage diseases through an integrated approach of diagnostics, modeling and optimum disease management.

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