Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Final adjudication of Yakima water rights upcoming

- A Yakima County court has started the final review process before establishing water rights in the Yakima Basin next year, ending a 40-year-old court case.

Record cherry crop reaching finish line

- Prices dropped from record July volume but rebounded in August as the Northwest approaches the end of a long cherry season.

Large apple crop, higher returns predicted

- Washington expects another large apple crop but sales may improve with fewer Red Delicious and smaller crops in Europe, Mexico and Canada.

Supreme Court denies review of Okanogan County road closure

- The Washington State Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Okanogan County residents to overturn the county’s closure of part of the historic Chiliwist Road.

Roza Irrigation District tests new reservoir

- One of the largest irrigation districts in Washington’s Yakima Valley is beginning to fill a new reservoir enabling it to store water that otherwise would flow into wasteways and back to the Yakima River.

Canadian smoke shrouds parts of Washington

- Smoke from British Columbia wildfires covered much of Washington state Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 1 and 2. The National Weather Service said it likely will last into Saturday.

Congressman among international hop award recipients

- A U.S. congressman, other hop growers and researchers receive the highest hop industry award at an international meeting in Yakima, Wash.

Drones, robots highlight WSU tech day

- Use and abilities of drones in agriculture have been increasing in the last two years while research continues on use of robots to pick apples, bundle raspberry canes and weed vegetables.

Lack of state capital budget delays water projects

- Odessa Subarea and Yakima Basin water projects and irrigation canal maintenance are being delayed without a state capital budget.

Ports hail longshore contract extension

- The Pacific Maritime Association says it has reached a three-year contract extension with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union hopefully preventing any work slowdowns like one three years ago that damaged agricul...

Washington, Oregon make region a blueberry powerhouse

- Washington and Oregon have some natural advantages as they continue to lead in national blueberry production. Farms range from small U-pick operations to larger, corporate operations.

Good cherry season for consumers, not so much for growers

- The Northwest cherry industry has set a new record of 536,000 boxes per day of cherries shipped in the first 20 days of July and may pass 25 million boxes for the season. Prices and grower returns are low.

New tractor company targets small farm market

- An Alabama company is making small, affordable tractors for small farms with nonproprietary parts that it sees as a help to regional farming on a global scale to meet future food needs.

Committee updates wine research priorities

- Research shows no difference in wine grape quality in vineyards pruned and thinned mechanically versus those partially pruned by hand. Still under study is any difference in wine.

House looks at ESA, wolf measures

- A number of measures favorable to agriculture and sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., have seen recent House action.

Labor Department inspects Okanogan growers

- Tree fruit growers in Okanogan County, Wash., are unnerved by U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division inspections.

Bill seeks to extend H-2A program to all farms

- The H-2A-visa foregin guestworker program would apply to all of agriculture under an amendment in a security appropriations bill that passed the House Appropriations Committee.

Another Carlton wildfire three years later

- Fire officials gain upper hand on a 1,200-acre blaze near Carlton, Wash., bringing back memories of disasterous fire three years ago.

New Carlton Fire lawsuit filed

- Three years to the day after the Carlton Complex Fire started, more than 200 plaintiffs sue the state Department of Natural Resources for negligence.

Another Carlton wildfire three years later

- Fire officials are optimistic they have the upper hand on a 1,200-acre blaze near Carlton, Wash., bringing back memories of disasterous fire three years ago.

Newhouse amendment would expand farmworker housing use

- Summary: An amendment to the 2018 House Agricultural Appropriations bill restores H-2A-visa foreign guestworker usage of USDA-funded seasonal farmworker housing.

Labor tight but adequate for now; September could be tighter

- Farm labor is tight throughout the West. Growers are worried about having enough workers for fall harvests.

Trade firm marks 25 years with new service

- A new internet portal into global agricultural, food and beverage regulations has been started by a West Coast trade firm marking its 25th anniversary.

PNW cherry crop will likely set a record

- The 2017 Pacific Northwest fresh cherry crop likely will become the new record largest at somewhere around 24.5 million, 20-pound boxes. It’s pressuring prices downward.

Wildfires burn more than 78,000 acres of Central Washington

- Wildfires are plentiful and early in Central Washington burning thousands of acres of cattle and sheep rangeland. Approximately, 78,700 acres have burned since June 26.

Central Washington hit with more fires

- A fire of unknown origin threatened homes and burned about 650 acres north of East Wenatchee, Wash., on July 5. While fairly secure, firefighting continued July 6. Meanwhile, a 31,000-acre fire that started July 2 between Y...

Western Innovator: Thinking differently with pears

- A Washington pear grower has been pushing ahead of others into high-density plantings for years, with his own approach of tying tree tops together.

Hillsides burn near Wenatchee

- A fire of unknown origin threatened homes and burned about 650 acres north of East Wenatchee, Wash., on July 5. While fairly secure, firefighting continued July 6.

Yakima reservoirs stay fuller, longer

- A good winter snowpack, slow runoff and a cool, wet spring has contributed to five Cascade Mountain reservoirs serving 464,000 acres of mostly farmland in the Yakima Basin staying full later than normal.

Ranchers save cattle, lose rangeland in wildfires

- Lightning-strike fires, south of Wenatchee, Wash., leave ranchers without rangeland grazing and critical of firefighting efforts. An estimated 46,621 acres burned from June 26 through June 28.

Wildfires burn 46,621 acres

- Lightning-strike fires, south of Wenatchee, Wash., grew together to burn 46,621 acres of rangeland over three days.

Wildfires burn rangeland, threaten homes south of Wenatchee

- Small lightning-strike fires were whipped by wind into larger fires south of Wenatchee, Wash., June 27 and 28, threatening homes and causing work for firefighters and ranchers.

U.S. apple crop forecast up slightly

- The U.S. apple crop in 2017 will be up 2 percent from 2016, according to the first industry estimate that occurred June 27 in New York.

California pear crop forecast up 27 percent

- Better winter chill contributed to better fruit set and the largest pear crop forecast in California in several years. Harvest starts the first week of July and ends in mid-September.

Dairy owner fined for manure discharge

- A Sunnyside dairy owner says he will ask the state Department of Agriculture to reduce a penalty it has levied against him for violating water pollution laws.

Stemilt Basin land deal on hold

- The sale of Stemilt Basin land from one state agency to another remains on hold, but the Mathison family has the easement it needs to develop more high-elevation cherry orchard.

WAFLA sues to end attorney general’s probe

- A farm labor labor association is suing Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to end his investigation of the association.

Tobacco virus found in Washington wine grapes

- A Washington State University virologist says mystery vineyard virus is first discovery of Tobacco Ringspot Virus in the Pacific Northwest.

International pear group talks varieties, high-tech packing

- The Interpera Congress discussed pear varieties, high-tech pear sorting and sizing and related topics at a two-day meeting in a top pear region of the world, Washington’s Wenatchee Valley.