The Seeds for Bees enrollment period has officially opened and growers now have an opportunity to apply. Enrollment is open now through August 31, however seed availability is limited so growers are encouraged to apply early. The Almond Board of California (ABC) has been instrumental in funding the program, which has been improved this year to provide even more support to growers.
“If you’re awarded that first-year program, you’re going to get up to $2,500 worth of free seed off of your overall seed purchase,” said Rory Crowley, Director of Habitat Programs at Project Apis m. and manager of the Seeds for Bees Program. “Those second-year awardees will get up to $1,500 worth of free seed of their overall purchase. So, we’re excited about that.”
The Seeds for Bees program provides cover crop mixes to farmers to help develop additional habitat for bees and other pollinators. Almond growers have been especially responsive to the program, accounting for 72 percent of all awardees last year with 143 new almond growers participating. California growers planted more than 12,580 acres of cover crops last year and Crowley said they intend to grow that number further. “We’re trying to get 15,000 cover crop acres planted this year and we think we’re going to be able to do that,” Crowley noted.
There are a total of five cover crop mixes available through the program. Along with providing critical habitat to support pollinators, cover crops can also support better soil health and water infiltration. ABC has resources available such as Best Management Practices for cover crops, to help growers maximize the benefits that can be achieved. Crowley said that the application process for the Seeds for Bees program has been streamlined to make it easier to enroll. Program information along with enrollment applications are available online.
Listen to Crowley’s interview below.