California received more than $18 million out of the total $55 million awarded nationwide by USDA for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program that began Oct. 1. The program provides grants to states to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, which include nuts. Among the grants that were awarded, the following are of particular interest to almond growers:

Awarded to: Project Apis m.
Project title: Honey bee best management practices outreach program
This project will raise awareness of honey bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) through an easily accessible social media campaign.

Awarded to: Coalition for Urban Rural Environmental Stewardship (CURES)
Project title: Establishing cost-efficient methods to measure nitrate movement beyond the root zone when using nutrient BMPs in California specialty crops
This project will identify and pilot test methods for measuring movement of nitrates beyond the root zone of irrigated crops with implementation of a nutrient management plan.

Awarded to: Project Apis m.
Project title: Building California bees for California specialty crops
This project intends to identify, develop and test low-water-use wildflower and oilseed mixtures as a means of providing sustainable nutritional sources for the building and retention of honey bees in California.

Awarded to: Regents of University of California, Davis
Project title: Life cycle assessment of air emissions and greenhouse gas offset potentials in perennial fruit and nut crops
UC Davis will assess greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions in production of California tree-fruit and -nut crops and will quantify the potential for alternative orchard practices to offset emissions.

Awarded to: Regents of University of California, Davis
Project title: Using targeted high-frequency nitrogen applications to diminish reactive N mobilization in micro-irrigated perennial crops and modeling applications
The proposed project will develop an application for the hydrological model HYDRUS to estimate N mobilization from fertigation and improve N use efficiency (NUE) for perennial crops.