Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Washington asparagus industry eyes a comeback

- Washington asparagus may be at a turning point after 24 years of decline. Yields should improve with high-density planting but finding enough pickers is a problem.

Craft brewers boost demand for hops

- Continued growth of small craft breweries across the country is putting the squeeze on hop growers. They're planting more acres, even in states where it's just been a hobby, but it may not be enough.

Two-job scenario raises conflict concerns

- The manager of a state tree fruit research commission pitches himself to faculty he would oversee if he becomes director of the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center.

Sportsmen question orchard’s use of public land

- Future use of public land that's an elk and deer migratory path is discussed by orchardists, sportsmen and state officials.

New McDougall apple line eight months into maiden season

- McDougall & Sons Inc., Wenatchee, Wash., is on the move with a huge new apple and cherry packing facility to keep up with its expanding orchards.

Twin sisters turn heads on packing line

- Twin sisters live together and pack apples together. People can't tell them apart.

Twin sisters turn heads on packing line

- Twin sisters live together and pack apples together. People can't tell them apart.

Wind machines, heaters fend off frost in Washington

- Freezing temperatures early the morning of April 15 may have damaged tree fruit and wine grapes in Central Washington, but probably not as much as last November's freeze. Effects of that are just now becoming more evident.

Immigration action back in limelight

- A U.S. Court of Appeals hears arguments, April 17, on an injunction that stopped Obama's executive order to give work status to illegal aliens but the issue could take longer if it goes to the Supreme Court.

ICE: Don’t help workers with immigration programs

- Farm labor association tries to get safe harbor for employers who want to help employees apply for temporary legal work status. ICE says no.

McFerson considering WSU tree fruit center job

- The manager of a state tree fruit research commission, funded by and representing private industry, is looking at also directing WSU's Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center.

Packers shrink apple crop as sales push continues

- Washington apple shippers continue to discard apples to help reduce the size of the record 2014 crop. Prices are low and may not have bottomed out.

Early bloom record set in Wenatchee

- Red Delicious apple trees are blooming their earliest in the past 93 years in Wenatchee due to warm weather in February and March. It means tree fruit is suceptible to frost damage longer.

Central Washington irrigation district reduces water deliveries

- An irrigation district that serves two-thirds of irrigated acreage in Washington's Kittitas Valley around Ellensburg will start the season at slightly more than half volume.

Spud planter says GPS has dulled abilities

- A Washington potato planter says he could plant a straight line before the days of GPS. Now anyone can do it, he says.

Cold Train owner sues BNSF Railway

- The owner of a refrigerated rail service that went out of business is suing BNSF Railway for failing to provide service therefore messing up sale of the refrigerated service.

Washington snowpack smallest in 35 years

- With the lowest mountain snowpack in decades, Washington state is eyeing probable summer hardships for irrigators in the Yakima and Kittitas valleys and the Walla Walla area.

Apple issues continue in Mexico, China

- Washington apple shippers are trying to maintain access into Mexico and are waiting on process for the final green light for all varieties into China.

Newhouse leads letter for guestworker reform

- Sixty-one members of Congress signed a letter drafted by freshman Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., telling congressional leaders that guestworker reform has to accompany enforcement measures in immigration reform.

Friends, family pay tribute to Jack Jones

- A prominent figure in agriculture in the northern part of Washington's Columbia Basin was remembered by family and friends.

New water reservoir to help irrigators

- The Roza Irrigation District, serving the northern edge of the Yakima Valley, has only junior water rights, meaning it can be cut off in droughts. It's building a $26 million reservoir to help conserve water.

Apple commission not eager to promote clubs

- An idea of promoting club apple varieties wasn't embraced by the Washington Apple Commission at a recent meeting.

Grafting company stays busy

- Jose Lujano and his sons are busy this time of year with their seasonal, Yakima-based business, grafting fruit trees in orchards througout Central Washington. It's a way of switching tree varieties.

Expected drought shows need for water projects

- An irrigation district serving the Kittitas Valley may not have water to last the season because of drought and that only emphasizes the need for planned reservoir enhancements, an irrigation district board member says.

Apple commission discusses GM position

- With U.S. and Canadian approval of genetically-modified apples, the Washington Apple Commission is discussing it future position on the issue.

Northwest hop acreage continues to grow

- The March 1 inventory of hops is slightly down but acreage is expected to keep growing this year as the craft brewing industry drives demand.

Canadian government approves GM apples

- Two Canadian agencies have approved genetically modified apples that were developed in British Columbia. They have also been approved in the U.S.

Canal-clearing job requires mind over matter

- It's a job where you want to stay alert. Wenatchee Reclamation District employees scoop rock and mud from a canal hundreds of feet above the valley floor.

Early spring pushes ahead spraying in Washington

- Fruit trees in Central Washington are waking up early causing growers to step up spray scheduled. Irrigation districts mostly remain on normal start schedules.

Serving replant disease a meal of mustard

- A research scientist says feeding orchard soil white and yellow mustard seed meal may be better than fumigation in fighting replant disease.

At 80 years and counting, still too many Reds

- The Washington apple industry icon, the Red Delicious, has been tops for 80 years and is still revered overseas. But oversupply and low prices this season may spell its demise.

Wanapum Dam repairs nearing completion

- Repairs on a cracked Columbia River dam in the center of Washington state are wrapping up and the dam's reservoir is being refilled. Irrigators will have water.

Port traffic improves, but backlog of problems remains

- Congestion at ports is improving but no one seems to know how much. Shipping lines are boosting container rates and issues remain in Oakland and Portland.

New apples join Pink Lady logo

- Several new apple varieties similar to Cripps Pink will be sold under the Pink Lady logo to provide that type of apple earlier in the season.

Tough season points to need for stronger apple promotions, expert says

- With prices of Red Delicious apples still falling and the Washington apple industry facing a potential carryover of supply, stronger promotions could help, an industry observer says.

County may sue to stop grizzly restoration

- Okanogan County commissioners say they may sue to stop grizzly bear restoration in the North Cascades. Chelan County commissioners also oppose the idea put forth by federal and state agencies.

Mathisons continue quest for more cherry ground

- The Mathison family, owners of Stemilt Growers Inc., the largest sweet cherry packer in the nation, is continuing to pursue state land for orchard even if it takes a few years.

Washington snowpack lowest in 10 years

- Washington state's mountain snowpack is 29 percent of normal, but rains should keep streams in good shape until mid-summer.

Pesticide worker removals down by one

- Washington state has been monitoring blood enzymes of agricultural pesticide applicators for 10 years. Problem levels have remained low.

Early spring pushes crops, raises frost worries

- Tree fruit, hay and aspargus all feel the pull of early warmth in Central Washington. It makes for a longer frost protection season.

Apple company builds new facilities for future

- Washington Fruit & Produce Co. remains aggressive in building new multi-million-dollar packing facilities and expanding orchards on eve of turning 100 years old.

U.S. firm buys Canadian GM apple company

- The Canadian company that developed a genetically modified apple is being purchased by a U.S. firm. The transaction is to be completed in the first half of this year.

Pear growers get early contract from canners

- In an early agreement, Pacific Northwest pear canners have agreed to pay growers subtantially more in the next three years to get the volume they need. The PNW produces 85 percent of the nation's pears, California the rest.