Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

ICE arrests of criminal illegal immigrants spark concerns

- Workers and to some degree employers are concerned about ICE arrests of criminal illegal aliens, say some at a labor conference.

Tree fruit growers talk pedestrian orchards, varieties

- An International Fruit Tree Association gathering drew growers from around the world where new varieties, horticultural practices and short orchards were among the topics.

Forecast models expand to honeybees, tree fruit size

- New prediction models of a Decision Aid System for Washington tree fruit growers will be tested this year for fruit size, honeybee foraging and blossom timing.

Mexico taking more of plentiful Red Delicious crop

- Washington apple exports to Mexico, China and India are up compared to last year but could be better if the dollar was weaker and fruit was smaller.

Stemilt builds advanced fruit shipping, storage center

- A large Washington tree fruit company is building what is probably the largest and most advanced automated packed fruit storage and shipping facility in the state.

State offers 3,000-acre lease in Horse Heaven Hills

- Bids are due April 6 to lease 3,000 acres of agricultural land from the state Department of Natural Resources in the Horse Heaven Hills with the lessee building a water system.

Wine packaging competition getting keener

- One of the largest wine packing suppliers in North America says global competition continues to impact the business. There are 30 to 40 wine bottle suppliers west of the Rockies.

Apple Commission gets new members

- Two apple growers won elections and have been appointed to the Washington Apple Commission by the director of the state Department of Agriculture.

Red Delicious prices dropping with two-thirds still unsold

- It’s not the worst but not the best year in Washington apple prices as a large crop in the state and nationally and an abundance of Red Delicious and Gala hold prices down.

Westerners back bill to legalize DACA expansion

- Washington Republican Reps. Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert are among 15 co-sponsors of legislation to protect illegal aliens from deportation who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Apple truck plunges into Columbia River

- A second truckload of apples crashed into the Columbia River in Central Washington, Feb. 9, three days after a first one. They were 75 miles apart and unrelated.

A voice for the tree fruit industry

- Chris Schlect is retiring in March after more than 36 years as president of Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima, Wash. He helped develop the council into a strong voice for the tree fruit industry on many issues at th...

Washington wine grape growers rebrand

- Washington’s wine grape growers association renamed itself “Washington Winegrowers Association” at its annual convention.

Washington lags other Western states in snowpack

- Washington’s snowpack while aided by recent storms isn’t as healthy as people may think. Oregon, California and southern Idaho have been benefitting most from winter storms.

NAFTA rewrite could help labor picture, economist says

- A revised North American Free Trade Agreement could be an instrument to allow workers, on visas, to go where needed among the U.S., Canada and Mexico, an economist says.

State attorney general pushes WAFLA probe after setback

- A Superior Court judge has stopped the Washington Attorney General’s demand for information from a farm labor association related to biasing a state wage survey. But the AG intends to keep investigating.

Commodities have mixed experiences in China

- Apple exports to China haven’t met industry expectations, but other commodities have thrived.

Immigration reform likely to be piecemeal effort

- A number of enforcement and border security-type immigration bills may be introduced soon in the U.S. House as the Senate is busy considering cabinet appointments and a Supreme Court nominee, a former Bush administration of...

Minimum wage hikes threaten small, medium orchards

- An Oregon State University economics professor says big increases in Washington’s and Oregon’s minimum wages over the next several years threaten small and medium-size cherry growers and will impact apple and ...

Bob Bailey crowned Pacific Northwest Cherry King

- A man who became the largest cherry grower in Oregon, Bob Bailey, is Pacific Northwest Cherry King for 2017.

Western Innovator: A laser look at apple skin cells

- Loren Honaas has been at the Agricultural Research Service Tree Fruit Rearch Laboratory in Wenatchee, Wash., for one year and is embarking on possibly the first laser dissection of apple skin cells to better understand post...

Cherry growers hear about new varieties

- Cherry growers in the Northwest were encouraged at a recent meeting to consider planting new varieties to offer retailers something new.

Platforms better than conveyors, expert says

- Harvest assist platforms where apple pickers still pick into bags work better for fast apple pickers than conveyor systems, a WSU tree fruit expert says.

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.