The Delaware Department of Agriculture announced March 19 it is seeking applications for this year’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, with nearly $359,000 allocated to assist in increasing the competitiveness of Delaware-grown specialty crops.

Applications will be accepted through 4:30 p.m. April 22.

The program, funded through the federal Farm Bill, covers products known as specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Projects should benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole and be able to provide a positive impact with measurable outcomes. Grants are available between $5,000 and $50,000 for projects that may last between one to three years in length.

Applications should be submitted by agricultural producers, nonprofit organizations, government entities, for-profit companies or educational institutions based in Delaware or with a business or educational affiliation here. Funding cannot be used for field crops, such as corn and soybeans or animal agriculture.

An informational grant workshop will be held at 5 p.m. April 3 in the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Conference Center, 2320 S. Dupont Highway, Dover.

Past Delaware projects have included research on improving commercial broccoli production, efforts to expand a community-supported agriculture program, research on growing persimmons and marketing to promote locally grown specialty crops.

Applications are available at de.gov/scbg, or from DDA marketing specialist JoAnn Walston at 698-4592 or joann.walston@delaware.gov. Due to a change in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant cycle, applications are due earlier this year.