Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Pollen spray could replace honeybees

- A Washington State University cherry researcher talks about spray pollination, withholding water from cherry trees before harvest and hand and mechanical pruning.

Cold winter may knock out pests, diseases

- A longer stretch of cold temperatures may hold Spotted Wing Drosophila in check on Central Washington cherries this year and may hinder Little Cherry Disease.

Events raise hopes for cherry exports to China

- The head of Northwest Cherry Growers says he’s been worried about exports to China because of President-elect Donald Trump’s stance toward China. He’s more hopeful after Trump met with a top Chinese bus...

County official wants Trump to stop grizzly restoration

- Two federal agencies are pushing ahead with an effort to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades in Washington. An Okanogan County commissioner says he hopes the new Trump administration stops it.

Apple prices could be near bottom

- With national holdings of Red Delicious and Gala up over a year ago, there may still be downward pressure on Washington apple prices. USDA tracking shows prices the same as a month ago.

Michigan may best N.Y. as second-biggest apple producer

- Michigan may have beaten New York this season in apple production, but it might be just temporary. Both states are upping their game in competition with Washington.

First GMO apple slices to go on sale in Midwest

- A small amount of genetically modified sliced apples will become the first sold in the U.S. in February and March. The Summerland, B.C., producer hopes to compete nationally in the fresh-sliced business.

Cold nips at Washington cherry buds

- Single-digit and below zero temperatures in Central Washington the first week of January may have damaged some cherry buds and soft fruit. Wine grapes are likely safe.

DNR approves Stemilt Basin sale

- One state agency approves the sale of land in Washington’s Stemilt Basin. Another is expected to act soon. The deal includes an easement allowing a controversial cherry orchard expansion.

New Chelan Fruit plant saves on labor

- Chelan Fruit Cooperative has taken the opportunity of the destruction of his main packing plant by a 2015 wildfire to build a new plant that can operate with 20 percent fewer workers.

Washington state’s snowpack looks good

- Washington is starting the new year with healthy mountain snowpack and above average water storage in critical Yakima Basin reservoirs. The weather outlook is good.

JUICI apples show big potential, company says

- Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, of Wenatchee, Wash., is counting on its new JUICI™ apple and two New Zealand varieties to help it compete in the world of new apples.

SweeTango apples half way to 800,000-box goal

- SweeTango apples wrapped their eighth season up a little in volume. Promoters are bullish on social media and aiming to hit 800,000, 40-pound boxes in a few years.

WTO ruling helps U.S. ag exports to Indonesia

- The World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of the U.S. and New Zealand against Indonesia restrictions on its imports of fruits, vegetables and meats. Indonesia could appeal but ultimately it should help apples, grapes ...

Tree fruit growers wary of ‘predictive scheduling’ requirement

- Efforts to require employers to give employees several weeks notice of work schedules probably won’t work in agriculture, tree fruit leader says.

WSU may soon hire tree fruit soil endowed chair

- Washington State University has zeroed in on a candidate for a tree fruit soil and rhizosphere ecology endowed chair and may announce a hiring soon.

Hops set acreage, production value records

- U.S. hop growers are setting new production value and acreage records but they’re also seeing costs go up. New plantings may continue but likely will slow down.

Easement proceeds for cherry orchard expansion

- An easement allowing development of a high elevation cherry orchard in Stemilt Basin south of Wenatchee, Wash., is proceeding but it may be a year or more before trees are planted.

Second-largest crop pressures apple prices

- Washington wholesale apple prices continue to drop on main varieties while the total estimated crop size grows slightly.

Melon Wrangler makes World Ag Expo top 10

- A machine built in Moses Lake, Wash., and touted to make harvesting watermelons three times more efficient is in the Top 10 at the World Ag Expo in California in February.

Mechanization company interested in helping with robotic picker

- Automated Ag Systems, a Moses Lake, Wash., builder of tree fruit harvest platforms and bin movers, says it may want to help a robotic apple picker.

Dairy installs first double liner in its lagoon

- A large dairy in the Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley has double-lined the first of several lagoons. But the owner says it’s overkill that threatens to put dairies out of business if required statewide.

Apple Commission still looks to Asia

- Asia is still seen as the best opportunity for export growth among Washington apple shippers according to a recent survey by the Washington Apple Commission.

Ag leaders slow to react to Labor pick

- Leaders of organizations involved in labor-intensive agriculture don’t know a lot about President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor but remain hopeful since the restaurant industry he's from ...

Tree fruit expert Fred Valentine dies at 81

- A well-respected horticulturalist in northcentral Washington, Fred Valentine, has died at age 81. He was involved in development of the Cameo apple.

Apple industry giant Bill Evans dies at 87

- Bill Evans, co-founder and president of Evans Fruit Co., one of the largest tree fruit companies in Washington state, died Dec. 6. He was known as his own man, unafraid to stand alone on principle.

Developer wants robotic apple picker in orchards in 2018

- A robotic apple picker maybe commercially ready for orchards in two years and practical and affordable within 10 years, its developer says.

New apple poised for record-setting launch

- Washington apple producers have ordered more than 8.7 million new Cosmic Crisp apple trees to plant in the next three years which means production could reach 9 million boxes in three to five years. That’s believed t...

Apples fit millennials’ values, Wal-Mart representative says

- Freshness, consistent quality and good taste are what millennials look for in fruit and most foods, a Wal-Mart store representative tells Washington tree fruit growers.

Members of Congress push for more hops research

- Resources should be reallocated so that hop research can be expanded into two, full-time USDA-ARS positions, more than 100 members of Congress say.

SugarBee apples head to stores this month

- A new apple variety, SugarBee, that may rival Honeycrisp, is being test marketed for the first time in stores this month by Chelan Fresh Marketing.

New fund helps removal of Western dams

- The Hewlett Foundation has put $50 million into a new fund to remove obsolete dams and improve rivers throughout the West.

Judge blocks rule expanding overtime pay

- A court ruling in Texas has prevented the expansion of overtime pay to an estimated 4.2 million workers nationwide, saving employer expense.

State, Homeland Security candidates question marks for ag

- Two contenders for key posts in the new Trump administration may not be best for labor-intensive agriculture, an industry leader says. Ag is worried about tough immigration action without a help for ag labor.

PNW pear sales post a good start

- Despite an abundance of Bartlett causing a dip from high prices, it looks like a pear crop moderate in size but good in quality will bring good returns for Northwest growers.