Dan Wheat

Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Brown marmorated stink bug reports increase

- Washington State University entomologists are receiving increasing reports of brown marmorated stink bugs, mostly from Western Washington.

Priest Rapids Dam leak blamed on adhesion loss

- A loss of adhesion between two layers of concrete is responsible for a leak in Priest Rapids Dam south of the town of Desert Aire, Wash., public utility officials say.

Newhouse seeks new grizzly comment period

- Saying Okanogan County residents were ignored at a public forum, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., asks Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reopen public comment on grizzly recovery plan.

Washington apple prices stabilize

- Wholesale Washington apple prices stabilized in March but whether or not that continues through April is questionable. A large crop, Amazon getting into food and Chinese tarffs dampen prices.

Deal brings Phytelligence fruit technology to India

- The Seattle agricultural biotechnology company Phytelligence will supply India with modern rootstocks and tree fruit, grape, nut and berry varieties.

Stemilt to pay $95,000 in sexual harassment settlement

- One of Washington’s largest tree fruit companies, Stemilt Growers, has agreed to pay a Latina tractor driver $95,000 to end a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Washington’s snowpack still above normal

- Washington’s mountain snowpack, critical for summer irrigation of farmland, is better at the start of April than it was at the start of March and start of February.

Employees buy Ward Rugh hay company

- The oldest hay company in Ellensburg, Wash., Ward Rugh, Inc., has been bought by three employees who say they will move forward with the same conservative business philosophy.

Irrigators pursue Bureau of Reclamation assets

- Kennewick Irrigation District, served by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Yakima Basin Project, is seeking title to at least some canal assets as it finishes paying a $4.6 million lease-loan.

Indonesia still frustrates apple shippers

- Indonesia has defied World Trade Organization rulings for well over a year that it is too restrictive on agricultural goods from other countries, including U.S. apples.

Tree fruit trade groups to combine by July

- Northwest Horticultural Council and Northwest Fruit Exporters move closer to combining operations that they’ve been working toward for a couple of years.

Utility district investigates Priest Rapids Dam leak

- Four years after a crack was discovered at Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River in Central Washington, sister dam Priest Rapids, 19 miles downriver, is found leaking more than normal. There is no imminient danger, says owner-o...

Dried GMO apple ‘bits’ debut on Amazon.com

- The Canadian producer of genetically-modified, non-browning apples has begun selling them in dried, snack bites after selling fresh slices last November. Supplies are limited but will increase in the future.

Zinke grizzly decision draws criticism from ranchers

- Lifting a December hold, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke angers ranchers and delights grizzly bear proponents by allowing North Cascade grizzly bear recovery to proceed.

Apple Commission to promote proprietary varieties overseas

- Some promotions of proprietary varieties can be a useful, new tool in overseas efforts by the Washington Apple Commission, its president says.

China tariffs hit pork exports hardest, include nuts, tree fruit

- China is pushing back against U.S. tariffs on steel with a list of tariffs of its own on $3 billion worth of agricultural and steel products. Pork, nuts, cherries, citrus and apples are among those targeted.

U.S. hop stocks climb 21 percent

- The inventory of U.S. hops in storage continues to increase for the third March in a row, still showing greater supply than demand.

PNW hay exporters hope for better season

- Competition in overseas markets from Australia and Canada hamper Pacific Northwest hay exporters who expect 2017 inventories to clean out in time to help the 2018 season.

New tariff sparks ag steel price increases

- The price of steel is going up before new U.S. tariffs take effect as companies anticipate higher inventory replacement costs. Fence posts, trellis wire, anything made from steel will go up in agriculture and other industri...

Western Innovator: A believer in KGB cherries

- They’re not suitable for mechanical harvesting, but a grower and former fieldman says growers can save money with pedestrian orchard, KGB cherry trees.

New reservoir in use as Roza irrigation water flows

- Another Central Washington irrigation season starts with the Roza District in the Yakima Valley using a new, 1,600-acre-foot reservoir for the first time.

WSU, spinoff sue each other over Cosmic Crisp

- A dispute over propagation and sales rights to trees of Washington state’s new apple variety have erupted into lawsuits between Washington State University and its spinoff company, Phytelligence.

Washington apple prices drop more

- Average wholesale Washington apple prices are not too far above breakeven with growers doing better on proprietary varieties, organics and larger-size fruit since there’s an abundance of small fruit.

WAFLA announces new CEO, staff changes

- The Washington farm labor association WAFLA has hired a new CEO from the Middle East and four other people in key jobs. Dan Fazio will remain in top position as director.

Cherry buds sustain light freeze damage

- Washington cherry orchards apparently skated by what could have been bad freeze damage had an early February warm spell lasted a few days longer before a mid-month freeze.

Late February storms build Washington mountain snowpack

- Washington’s mountain snowpack, vital for summer irrigation of farmland, is in better shape at the start of March than it was at the start of February.

Washington apple marketers need consumer research, analyst says

- A leading industry analyst questions whether Washington’s apple marketers are large enough to afford the research to better understand consumers and implement marketing strategies.

Ag groups on opposite sides of Goodlatte bill

- Comments of its chief executive leaked a month ago, but now Western Growers Association is openly opposing to the Goodlatte immigration and DACA-fix bill.

Custom wine bottling plant conducts test runs

- The largest custom wine bottling plant in Washington is testing ahead of its first commercial run with owners hopeful it will replace bulk wine sales.

Ambrosia apples make their mark

- McDougall & Sons Inc., of Wenatchee, Wash., has developed Ambrosia apples into a leading managed variety and a profitable investment.

Small apple growers disappear as industry grows

- Costs, labor, regulations all increasingly take their toll on Washington’s small tree fruit growers who once ruled the industry. Only a handful of large companies may someday remain and some small guys think the big ...