The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a $2.9 million grant for Florida researchers to study ways to fight diseases affecting strawberries.

USDA grant to help Florida scientists study strawberry disease

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the specialty crops grant to the Gainesville-based University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to expand the university’s program to fight anthracnose fruit rot and botrytis fruit rot, diseases growers usually spray fungicides on weekly.

The four-year funding will allow the university to promote its disease resistance program that involves spraying only when the plants face high risks of infection, according to a news release. The grant also allows researchers to test the system in other strawberry growing states as well as introduce a part that helps detect fungicide-resistant disease strains.

The researchers also want to find alternative fungicide options for growers, according to the release.