Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

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.

California sets cherry record; big Washington crop rolling

- California has set a new record of 9.7 million 18-pound boxes of cherries in a season just ending. The Pacific Northwest is just starting and could top its 23.2 million 20-pound box record of 2014.

Growers pin big hopes for Cosmic Crisp

- Washington apple growers planted 630,000 new Cosmic Crisp apple trees this spring and will plant an estimated 10 million more over the next two years to revolutionize variety offerings of the nation’s largest apple p...

Northwest hop acreage increases by 6 percent

- Pacific Northwest hop acreage is projected to increase 6 percent this year, slowing from a 17-percent increase last year. Sources have said supply is catching demand.

Plenty of water projected for Washington streams

- Water will remain plentifuly through summer in Washington streams and reservoirs given the season’s last streamflow forecast by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Chelan Fresh to market for Columbia Valley

- One of the largest tree fruit marketers in Washington, Chelan Fresh Marketing, has a second company to its portfolio in a month.

EEOC alleges sexual harassment of Stemilt employee

- One of Washington’s largest tree fruit companies, Stemilt Growers, has been sued by a federal agency for alleged sexual harassment and retaliation regarding a worker.

With harvest at hand, Oneonta expecting more stone fruit

- One packer is increasing its production of Washington stone fruit — apricots, peaches, nectarines and the like — but industry totals are projected similar to last year.

California has best cherry harvest in years

- California is finishing its best cherry season in years as Washington gets started and hopes it is just as lucky.

Another light Pacific Northwest pear crop predicted

- This year’s Pacific Northwest pear crop will be 17 to 20 days later than last year but also continuing a trend of being lighter, causing some head scratching.

Pacific Coast buys Oregon Cherry Growers

- A Lodi, Calif., cooperative, Pacific Coast Producers, is buying the processed cherry side of Oregon Cherry Growers in Salem. The fresh part will become Cascade Fruit Growers.

Massive Canadian snowmelt causes Washington flooding

- Large mountain snowpack in Northcentral Washington and British Columbia is causing some stream and river flooding of pastures, hay fields and orchards. Okanogan River may flood through summer.

Washington dairy sells out, another sells cows

- Lawsuits and government regulations are making the dairy business difficult. A 6,200-head dairy near Sunnyside, Wash., is selling out and another one sold maybe 4,000 cows.

Apple Commission adopts new budget

- The Washington Apple Commission adopts a budget very similar to last year's and based on estimating the fall crop at 135 million, 40-pound boxes.

China needs apple diversity, marketer says

- With 70 percent of its apple production in Fuji, China needs to expand more into other varieties to avoid an apple downturn, says a Shanghai importer-exporter with Wenatchee, Wash., roots.

Labor pains: Finding enough workers worries growers, packers

- Growers are more reluctant to talk about labor fearing they’ll attract U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents. Some have enough workers or think they will. Others are short and a shortage in California is alr...

Generic maraschino cherry promotions nearing end

- The future of the National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation and generic promotions of maraschino cherries is questionable after this year because processors no longer want to participate.

Quincy to Seattle ag rail shipments discussed

- The Northwest Seaport Alliance and inland ports are talking about shipping agricultural commodities by rail from Eastern Washington to the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. The Port of Quincy is ready as a test pilot.

Record crop possible for Pacific Northwest cherries

- Cherry growers in the Pacific Northwest anticipate a late but very large crop. They believe twice the number of days from last year for peak harvest will keep supply, sales and prices on track.

Bill seeks to double export promotions

- A bill doubling the $200 million USDA spends annually on agricultural export promotions over five years has been introduced by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash. He and a Democratic co-sponsor of Maine say it’s needed to sta...

Shrinking hay stocks build hope for higher prices

- Pacific Northwest hay producers hope less inventory contributes to improved pricing this season but that could be hampered by too much rain at the wrong times.

Second-largest crop pushes many apple prices lower

- Wholesale prices of Red Delicious and Gala apples, which make up more than 50 percent of the 2016 Washington apple crop, have continued to slide in recent weeks, making it a tough year for the industry.

Chelan Fresh, Borton Fruit join marketing

- Two large Central Washington tree fruit marketers have joined forces to become one of the largest marketers in the region, giving them a total of about 25 million boxes of fruit annually.

WAFLA calls for suspension of state pay survey

- The farm labor association WAFLA has asked the state Employment Security Department to suspend annual surveys of agricultural wages and practices until it addresses inconsistencies in data in prior surveys. The surveys help...

Feinstein farmworker bill should be part of larger solution, ag groups say

- California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats are proposing giving legal status to many undocumented farmworkers. Farm groups generally praise the proposal but say it’s only part of the answer.

H-2A progress, appointment raise hopes for ag, reps say

- Trump administration appointments, comments and better processing of H-2A-visa guestworker applications are welcomed by organizations representing agricultural employers.

Rural Washington group questions grizzly plan

- The North Cascades ecology has changed sinced the last grizzly bear studies were done there in 1993 and now there’s little to no food for such bears, a community group says.

State plans dedication of new tree fruit greenhouse

- A new state-of-the-art greenhouse at the Washington State University Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center near Prosser will increase capacity for testing registered mother-stock fruit trees.

Okanogan ranchers still leery of U.S. Forest Service

- Most Tonasket Ranger District ranchers have made it through their spring grazing instructions from the USFS but will be monitoring the monitors of this season’s use of grazing allotments.

Park Service receives 120,000 comments on grizzlies

- A public comment period on reintroduction of grizzly bears to Washington’s North Cascades ended April 28. The National Park Service may make a decision next year.

NW pear growers to host international group

- Northwest pear growers will host an international meeting in June and renew their 78-year-old federal marketing order.

Tariff puts WA lumber company’s plans on hold

- A Canadian lumber company says it will hold off on expansion plans in Oroville, Wash., because of new U.S. lumber tariffs averaging 20 percent.

Town sees a change of fortune after Gold Digger bankruptcy

- Two companies have bought portions of a bankrupt tree fruit cooperative saving jobs and helping growers in a small U.S.-Canadian border town.

Gebbers family faces wildfires, lawsuits — and bullets

- Owners of one of the largest business empires in Okanogan County have neighbors who sue them and one man who apparently had stronger things in mind.

Taylor Farms buys slice of Crunch Pak

- A leading producer of fresh greens and vegetables in California is buying into the national leader of fresh sliced apples in Washington.

Washington state onion packer accused of sex harassment

- An onion-packing company near George, Wash., and its foreman have been sued in federal court by the state attorney general for alleged sexual harassment of workers.