Dan Wheat

Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

California expects lighter pear crop

- A lighter fresh pear crop is forecast this season in California. But the state’s top pear packer and marketer says it looks like clean, larger fruit which should help opening prices and make for good returns.

Union, former H-2A workers sue Larson Orchards

- A labor union is suing a fruit company, the WAFLA farm labor association and a recruiter alleging they blacklisted H-2A guestworkers, who went on strike last year, from being rehired at the same company this year.

U.S. House set to take up immigration bills

- A new stab at agricultural labor reform is part of a deal in the U.S. House to vote on immigration reform. It could be “very, very good,” says the president of the National Council for Agricultural Employers.

U.S. House to take up immigration bills

- The U.S. House is moving toward votes next week on immigration, including DACA and agricultural labor.

Apple sales still behind targets

- Washington apple shippers remain 12 percent behind sales targets. Low prices of Red Delicious and Gala creep up, Granny Smith tumbles in very tough year for small growers.

Apple, pear growers fight fire blight outbreak

- It’s the worst spring in recent memory in Central Washington for fire blight withering apple and pear trees. Growers are cutting limbs and whole trees to keep the disease from spreading. Crop loss could be offset by ...

Western Innovator: Heirloom apples provide niche

- A family with deep orchard roots sees propagating and selling heirloom apple trees and fruit as a road for the future.

Amendment defunds grizzly transport, delists wolves

- A U.S. Interior Department appropriations bill, just passed out of committee, includes an amendment from Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., that defunds transporting grizzly bears into the North Cascades, delists gray wolves and i...

Mexican tariffs hit U.S. apple exports

- Mexico’s new tariff in retaliation for U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs jeopardizes Washington apple exports.

Rapid snowmelt causes stream forecasts to drop

- It’s like icecream melting faster than you can eat it. Rapid snowmelt and flooding in May means less water later for Washington’s streams and rivers.

PNW pear growers look to ‘good, full crop’

- After several years of lighter crops, Pacific Northwest pear growers are forecasting an average crop this season. The question is whether weather and other elements intervene to scramble that picture.

Bears attack Montana researcher, llamas

- A researcher for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recovering from two skull fractures and other wounds after being attacked by a bear, apparently a grizzly, south of Libby, Mont. Llamas were killed in separate incident.

Ranchers told to fight grizzly reintroduction

- The head of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association says Washington ranchers should do everything possible to prevent reintroduction of grizzly bears in the North Cascade Mountains.

Small garlic grower hit by Okanogan flood

- A small garlic grower faces a sizable loss as one of the victims of this spring’s Okanogan Valley flooding, the worst in 46 years.

Apple Commission adopts budget, talks trade, varieties

- Washington Apple Commission adopts budget, talks about trade, promoting proprietary varieties and latest merger of online and offline grocery shopping in China.

Researcher perfects wine colors

- A Washington State University enologist has found sulfur dioxide management is important in developing colors of rosé wine and made a guide to help winemakers.

Trump administration vows to revamp H-2A rules

- The process will take two years, but the Trump administration has announced pursuit of rule changes to simplify and improve the H-2A-visa foreign guestworker program.

Grizzly plan worries Washington ranchers

- Ranchers, back-country outfitters and many residents of Washington’s Okanogan County are concerned to outraged over the probability the Trump administration will approve grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades...

Okanogan flood damage likely to reach millions

- The Okanogan Valley, particularly from Oroville to Tonasket, has been flooded since May 5 and likely will be for another three weeks. Growers are dealing with fruit tree, hay and garlic losses.

PNW sweet cherry forecast down 22.7 percent

- The Pacific Northwest fresh, sweet cherry forecast is down 22.7 percent from last year’s record crop due to poor blossom pollination in the spring. It should mean better prices and the industry is hoping for a turnar...

Rayapati named WSU assistant dean, IAREC director

- A 14-year professor and wine grape virologist at Washington State University, Naidu Rayapati, has been named an assistant dean of agriculture in the Tri-Cities and director of the university’s Irrigated Agriculture R...

PUD extends cryptocurrency power moratorium

- Chelan County Public Utility commissioners, in Wenatchee, Wash., have continued into August a moratorium on electricity requests from cryptocurrency miners. In three years, crypto requests could more than double the PUD...

Northwest hay stocks tight, producers say

- The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports on-farm hay stocks up in Oregon and Idaho and down in Washington from a year ago. But sources in Oregon and Washington say most everything on farms is sold and that inven...

Okanogan’s worst flooding in 46 years inundates farms

- Rapid mountain snowmelt is flooding rivers in northcentral and northeastern Washington, particularly 70-plus miles of the Okanogan River from the Canadian border to Brewster.

Yakima hotel converts to farmworker housing

- Valicoff Fruit Company, of Wapato, and other agricultural interests are turning a Yakima hotel into housing for seasonal farmworkers, including H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers.

Shippers sell record 3 million boxes a week amid apple excess

- Washington apple companies are pushing to sell as many apples as they can to reduce 2017 oversupply before facing competition from cherries, other summer fruits and their own 2018 harvest.

New California egg initiative stirs opposition from animal rights groups

- A new measure to ban the caging of egg-laying hens and confinement of other farm animals may make the California general election ballot. But some animal rights groups oppose it.

Washington snowpack lingers; irrigation supply plentiful

- Washington’s mountain snowpack, critical for summer irrigation of farmland, held better than it might have through April because of cool weather. Irrigation water should be good.

Washington cherry crop looks to be light in south

- Some growers in the Mattawa region of Washington have light cherry crops and say it’s likely that way on southward. A Pasco area grower says it’s not heavy, but adequate.

Ag employers like Trump’s guestworker comments

- Agricultural groups working on immigration reform like President Donald Trump’s pro-guestworker comments in Michigan. Trump said agricultural guestworkers are needed.

Fruit tree rootstock takes time, money

- Washington’s leading nursery in fruit tree rootstock nears the end of a month of planting. When buds of apple, pear and cherry varieties are grafted onto them in August they will grow trees for orchard planting in sp...

Cosmic Crisp plantings beat estimate

- About 1 million more Cosmic Crisp apple trees are being planted this spring than were estimated in December. Some growers worry about oversupply.

California starts picking light cherry crop

- Picking is just beginning of California’s 2018 sweet cherry crop near Bakersfield. The crop maybe less than half last year’s record volume because of bad weather and poor pollination.

Fruit growers eye frost, pollination

- Tree fruit growers in the Northwest, Midwest and East hope to make it through frost season with no major losses. Poor pollination weather may make for a light cherry crop in the southern half of Central Washington.