Pecan industry representatives are invited to join research and Cooperative Extension scientists Feb. 13-15 at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore to establish research priorities and develop proposals to seek extramural funding that will benefit the pecan industry.

“We want people to get this important meeting on their calendars and express their interest in attending as early as possible,” said Paul Weckler, program co-coordinator and Oklahoma State University associate professor of biosystems and agricultural engineering. “Exact meeting times, sessions and other conference details will be shared with participants at a later date, as we’re still fine-tuning a few specifics of the agenda.”

The first day of the meeting will focus on establishing a “needs assessment” based on stakeholder input to ascertain and rank priorities in production, processing and distribution, as well as consumer expectations and retail markets.

The next two days of the meeting will be dedicated to developing proposals to seek funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and other funding agencies.

“Grant funding is an essential component of successful programs,” Weckler said. “Support for a viable and productive program must come from extramural grants.”

Teams of individuals from different professional disciplines will focus on developing multistate and multi-institutional project proposals – bolstered by matching funds from industry – to demonstrate the type of active partnership necessary to solving critical problems and advancing the pecan industry.

“Normally, if industry contributes a small percentage of the funds requested, the chances of receiving grant monies from funding agencies are significantly increased,” Weckler said. “Industry support is a key component that reviewers use to determine the perceived worth of a proposal.”