Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Harvest of a light PNW cherry crop begins

- With Washington cherry harvest starting two week earlier than normal, growers are anxious for good weather as they forecast a lighter crop.

Workers paid in blueberry wage case

- The first workers are being paid in a court settlement in a Walla Walla County, Wash., blueberry wage case.

Apple Commission sets its annual budget

- The Washington Apple Commission adopts a budget similar to last year's and based on estimating the fall crop at 135 million, 40-pound boxes.

Apple assessment voting method changes

- State law has been amended to give the Washington Apple Commission the change it wanted in the method of voting on future changes to growers' assessment rates.

Apple commission chief pushes logo

- With the world apple export market expected to grow tougher, the Washington Apple Commission president says companies should use the state's generic apple logo more.

Apple Commission to update export plan

- Saying it wants to stay competitive globally, the Washington Apple Commission will look at industry production, export and sales data to update its strategic plan for export promotions.

Maritime rule may slow ports


Slowdowns could plague West Coast seaports again depending on how terminal operators, ocean carriers and shippers handle a new maritime rule, the head of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition says.

So far severa...

High-tech line can switch between red, Rainier cherries

- As cherry season winds down in California and begins in Washington, manufacturers tout their latest achievements in high-tech, optical cherry sizing and sorting equipment.

Prominent vineyard wraps up planting


ROCK ISLAND, Wash. — One of the most visible new vineyards in Northcentral Washington has reached a milestone.

On May 16 crews finished planting the last 100 acres of Spanish Castle Vineyard, between Rock Is...

Columbia Basin growers bring in hay early, face weak prices


QUINCY, Wash. — Ben Schaapman started first-cutting alfalfa two weeks earlier than normal again this year in fields just south of Quincy in the upper Columbia Basin.

Normally, he starts swathing in mid-May. ...

Researcher studies tools ranging from netting to X-ray meters


WENATCHEE, Wash. — Lee Kalcsits considers himself to be fortunate. At just 33, he has a top job in Washington state tree fruit physiology.

“I’ve always loved working in tree fruit,” he s...

Diseased wine grapes damages wine


PROSSER, Wash. — Grapevine leafroll disease significantly lowers alcohol and coloring agents in wine grapes and thus in wine, especially in cooler growing seasons, a Washington State University study has concluded...

Reform needed to increase labor supply, immigrants say


ROCK ISLAND, Wash. — The shortage of tree fruit workers in Central Washington is significant and immigration reform is needed, say a couple who have spent their lifetime picking and packing fruit in the greater We...

Agencies try to speed up H-2A process


Federal agencies have changed procedures to expedite the processing of applications for foreign farmworkers to work in the United States.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State announ...

Immigrant goes from boxing to picking fruit


ROCK ISLAND, Wash. — One night in June of 1981, Victor Hugo Vega approached two men in Tijuana, Mexico, and asked them if they’d ever been to the United States.

They said they hadn’t.


PNW anticipates good cherry crop; California crop hit by rain


YAKIMA, Wash. — A 20.7 million, 20-pound-box Pacific Northwest cherry crop is forecast to start harvest the last full week of May while California’s harvest has been devastated by rain.

The Californi...

Washington tree fruit industry to top $1 million in scholarships


WENATCHEE, Wash. — The Washington Apple Education Foundation will award more than $1 million in scholarships to tree fruit-related college bound students this spring.

It’s a major milestone that the ...

Rapid Washington snowmelt fills streams


YAKIMA, Wash. — April was a month of rapid snowmelt in the Washington Cascades giving irrigators plenty of water, but it may not last into late summer in valleys with little or no reservoirs.

Pear orchards i...

Growers staff up for cherry harvest


WENATCHEE, Wash. — A total of 682 people applied for cherry sorting and packing jobs in association with Stemilt Growers’ 12th annual job fair on May 2, as Pacific Northwest growers and packers hire workers...

Pacific Northwest hop acreage still climbing


MOXEE, Wash. — Hop acreage is increasing for the fourth straight year in the United States and for the third year globally.

U.S. hop acreage is projected to increase by 6,000 acres this year, a 13 percent ri...

Cherry expansion faces uphill road


WENATCHEE, Wash. — Plans to develop more cherry orchard high in Stemilt Basin near Wenatchee continue to face strong opposition and are straining a community conservation group known as the Stemilt Partnership.

Mexico may revisit apple tariffs


YAKIMA, Wash. — Mexico may decide the future of its temporary tariffs on Washington apples in early June.

The nation could end the tariffs or extend them for five years, said Fred Scarlett, manager of North...

H-2A delays cause worker shortages in 20 states


Federal agency delays in processing visas for foreign guestworkers who tend and harvest America’s food crops are fast approaching crisis proportions, all but guaranteeing crops will rot in fields this year, the Am...

Farm groups side with Obama on immigration order appeal


YAKIMA, Wash. — Two farms and two farm labor organizations on the West Coast are among 63 businesses and groups that have joined the Obama administration’s appeal seeking to uphold the president’s co...

U.S. Senate passes Yakima water measure


The Yakima River Basin enhancement bill has passed the U.S. Senate as an amendment to a bipartisan energy bill.

The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 85 to 12 on April 20. The Yakima amendment was sponsored by S...

Blue Bird rebuilds, Stemilt does elsewhere


WENATCHEE, Wash. — Ten months after wildfire destroyed two tree fruit packing plants in Wenatchee, one is being replaced with a new structure and the other remains idle and partially demolished.

Wildfire dri...

Phytelligence, growers pursue new cherry varieties


WENATCHEE, Wash. — Orchardists who discovered a new cherry variety in 2005 have entered into an agreement with an agricultural company, Phytelligence, to aid them in developing new cherry varieties.

Troy an...

U.S. House members urge union, ports to cooperate


Nine members of Congress, led by Washington Reps. Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert, are urging the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association to find ways to prevent port disruptions.<...

Cosmic Crisp apple tree orders skyrocket


YAKIMA, Wash. — Orders for Cosmic Crisp apple trees, the new Washington State University variety, are taking off faster than anyone in the industry has ever before seen.

The initial 2017 release, through an ...

Storm doesn’t do much for Wash. snowpack


WENATCHEE, Wash. — A storm that struck the Washington Cascade Mountains before daylight April 14 dropped snow but didn’t alter the statewide snowpack or alleviate water worries for August and September.


WAFLA warns of minimum wage hike


OLYMPIA — Two initiatives raising Washington’s minimum wage could be on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, the farm labor organization WAFLA is warning its members.

The state’s minimum wage i...

Wyss seeks state Senate seat


BREWSTER, Wash. — Jon Wyss, government affairs director at Gebbers Farms, is running for Washington’s 12th Legislative District senate seat being vacated by Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee.


Crane & Crane to sell through Chelan Fresh

- A small apple grower, packer near Brewster, Wash., is switching sales agents beginning with its 2016 crop.

Growers worry big apple crop could topple prices

- Apple prices are expected to stay strong through the finish of the 2015 crop but the industry is wary that a large 2016 crop could depress prices.

Orchardists learn best ways to grow new Cosmic Crisp apple

- Central Washington apple growers received in-field instruction on growing Cosmic Crisp, heralded as the state apple variety of the future. The first commercial orchards will be planted in 2017 with the first fruit reaching ...

California starts early cherry harvest

- It's the earliest start in recent record and perhaps all time. California cherry growers anticipate a large crop and good season, of course barring rain.

Auvil Fruit keeps adding more netting

- A small but well-respected tree fruit company in Washington state continues to add cloth netting over apple orchards to grow more premium fruit, reducing cullage from sunburn and wind.

Frost nips at Michigan cherry buds

- Frost lightly damaged cherry buds in Michigan on April 5. New York growers are assessing if the same frost bothered them and so far there have been no major frosts in Washington and California.

Gebbers family copes with two years of fire losses

- A large Okanogan County cattle operation has had to sell off more cattle and credits government assistance in helping it through a second year of wildfire losses.

Early Washington spring pushes crops

- For the second year in a row, tree fruit and other crops in Central Washington are being advanced by early, warm temperatures.

Washington governor signs bee bill

- A pilot project to help landowners know what to plant as pollen forage for honeybees when getting rid of noxious weeds has been approved by the governor.

Bee time in Washington orchards

- Despite reports of high mortality this past winter nationally, there should be enough honey bees to pollinate Washington tree fruit, berry and row crops.

Okanogan, Wash., ranchers hang on after massive fires

- Gerald Scholz is one of a couple dozen ranchers in Okanogan County, Wash., still trying to make a living in the ashes of the wildfires of the last two summers.

Tree Top loses packaging materials in warehouse fire

- The processed fruit cooperative, Tree Top, Selah, Wash., lost packing materials in a warehouse fire in Wenatchee. An historic structure was saved.

Chelan Fruit rebuilds apple packing plant

- Construction crews are busy in Chelan, Wash., building a huge, new apple packing plant to replace one destroyed by wildfire last summer.

DOL to continue enforcement, WAFLA warns

- Growers may expect strong enforcement of wage and hour regulations in Central Washington by the U.S. Department of Labor this season, a labor group warns.

U.S. hop stocks up 10 percent over year ago

- An increase in hop inventory shows supply is beginning to catch demand. Meanwhile, acreage is likely to keep increasing this year.