With as much as $18 million up for grabs in 2012 Specialty Crop Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the California Department of Food and Agriculture is urging growers to go to class to learn how to compete for their shares of the grant money.

In California, specialty crops are identified as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

The California agency has scheduled four workshops from Northern California to the state’s southern end. In addition, there will be two web seminars.

The grants for research, marketing and nutrition projects range from $50,000 to as high as $400,000, according to the CDFA.

The two-hour workshops — all scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. — and web seminars are scheduled for the week of Nov. 14.

The first workshop is Nov. 15 at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma. The second workshop is scheduled for Nov. 16 at the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, 430 G Street, Davis.

The Central California workshop will be at the Big Fresno Fair Nov. 17.

The week’s final workshop will be at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa.

There is no admission fee to attend a workshop. However, space is limited, and the CDFA urges growers planning to attend to notify the agency in advance. Growers are asked to contact the CDFA at grants@cdfa.ca.gov.

The free two-hour web seminars are at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15 and at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 17.