Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

WSU apple gets new push with new name

- Washington State University has renamed the apple variety WA 2 "Sunrise Magic" and hopes that and a new commercialization system propels it with growers.

Apple prices do well as sales season progresses

- Washington apple prices continue to slowly rise and grower returns may be five to six times higher than a year ago.

U.S. surpasses Germany in hop production

- Germany usually leads the United States as the world's top hop producer, but drought switch that around in 2015.

Child care for farmworkers’ children studied

- The Washington Growers League and groups in Wisconsin and Texas are surveying farmers about child care for farmworker children and point to a Florida program that works well.

Snow hampers tree-fruit pruning in Washington state

- It's not a huge problem, but Central Washington orchards, particularly in the north and higher elevations, have dealt with more snow as they push to get winter pruning done.

Rain threatens low-elevation snowpack

- Washington's mountain snowpack is in relatively good shape but rain is saturating it at lower elevations which threatens its duration for early irrigation.

Groups seek public, private dollars for farmworker housing

- Washington Growers League, in Yakima, is looking at greater grower financing for farmworker housing, and the League and other groups continue to look for public and private funding for the same.

EEOC, Evans Fruit settle sex harassment cases

- The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has dropped all of its sexual harassment claims and court appeals against a large Washington apple grower in exchange for the company paying claimants.

More than one H-2A provider serves Washington

- With seasonal farm labor increasingly tight, Pacific Northwest growers have more than one option when considering hiring H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers.

Supply of H-2A workers from Mexico won’t last, lobbyist says

- U.S. agricultural employers need to look to other countries for H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers as the supply from Mexico will decrease, a leading immigration reform proponent says.

New tree fruit specialist meets growers

- Almost three months in her new job, WSU Extension tree fruit specialist Tianna Dupont met many growers at annual meetings.

Tree fruit industry grapples with FSMA water testing

- Tree fruit growers in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the nation have to comply with new, federal requirements for testing cleanliness of irrigation water in the next few years.

Research reveals benefits of netting apple trees

- Covering apple orchards with nets reduces heat, sunburn, light intensity and loss of moisture from soil but increases leaf photosythesis, research shows.

Pear crop shrinks but sells well

- A disorder is reducing the Pacific Northwest pear crop but sales are good and wholesale prices are strong while exports are down.

WSU pest, disease management system improved

- A 9-year-old system to help Washington tree fruit growers optimize treatments for pests and diseases is being improved by Washington State University.

Sweetheart overtakes Bing as popular cherry variety

- Cherry varieties, disease and pest problems were talked about at the annual Washington State University Northcentral Washington Stone Fruit Day.

State helps wildfire victims buy hay

- The state Department of Ecology, through the state Conservation Commission, has provided $500,000 to help wildfire victim ranchers in Okanogan County buy hay. It meets one-sixth of the need, the local conservation district ...

Apple tree orders not slowing down

- Despite large apple crops in recent years, Central Washington tree fruit nurseries aren't seeing a slowdown in orders for new trees, the owner of one nursery says.

Nurseries growing new Washington apple

- It's quiet now but soon there will be activity in nurseries where Cosmic Crisp, the new Washington state apple, is being cultivated for orchard planting a year from now.

Exports down but apple sales good overall

- Washington apple sales continue at decent speed and prices with domestic destinations set to assume a greater ratio over exports than last season.

Indian ports reopen to foreign apples

- Court action has reopened Indian ports to foreign apples, which will help Washington apple shippers and growers.

Mexico sets tariffs on some U.S. apple exporters

- Mexico has imposed temporary tariffs ranging from 2.44 to 20.82 percent on U.S. apple exporters in Washington. Mexico says it's likely the exporters sold apples in Mexico an unfairly low prices in 2013.

Ag groups hold labor conferences

- The future of domestic and foreign seasonal farm labor and immigration reform will be discussed at the Washington Growers League annual meeting, Jan. 26.

Okanogan Farm Bureau leader: Treatment of Hammonds ‘outrageous, hypocritical’

- A rancher and county Farm Bureau president says it's hypocritical for the federal government to imprison Oregon ranchers for backburning when the government destroyed private property backburning in Okanogan County.

Dog of the West: Border Collies get the job done

- All across ranches in the West, the Border Collie, more often than not, is top dog when it comes to herding cattle and sheep.

H-2A minimum wage increases in many states

- The base wage for foreign agricultural guestworkers has gone up in Oregon and Washington and even more in California and Idaho.

Yakima may look at minimum wage hike

- A labor analyst at a conservative think tank says Yakima may consider raising its minimum wage this year. It likely would be opposed by the many tree fruit packers in the area.

Washington snowpack looks good

- For now, mountain snowpack in Washington and Yakima Basin reservoir storage look good, but more snow is needed.

India restricts foreign apples at some of its ports

- A record volume of Washington apples were exported to India last season but that could be significantly reduced if apparent protectionistic restrictions there aren't lifted soon.

COOL repeal saves apple exports to two largest markets

- The apple industry is grateful that Congress repealed country of origin labeling, thus saving apple exports to Canada and Mexico.

Forest fuel reduction funding absent in omnibus bill

- While spending more money, the big spending package just passed by Congress and signed by the president, failed to do enough to reduce forest wildfire fuels and didn't fix the funding issue of "fire borrowing" beyond one ye...

Hop production up despite heat, drought

- Responding to strong demand from craft brewers, U.S. hop production rose in 2015 despite extreme heat and drought in the prime growing region, Washington's Yakima Valley.

Okanogan ranchers looking for grazing

- Okanogan County commissioners are trying to help ranchers gain a stronger voice in USFS grazing decision for next year in wake of devastating 2015 wildfires.

Roza irrigators pull plug on pump

- Increasing cost estimates have led Roza Irrigation District to suspend plans to mount pumps on a barge to get more water from Kachess Lake next year.

2014 Carlton fire victims sue DNR

- Victims of the 2014 Carlton fire filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Natural Resources and their attorney is investigating allegations about the 2015 Okanogan fires.

Washington Apple Commission seeks voting method change

- The Washington Apple Commission, a state commodity commission, wants to switch from acreage to boxes packed for part of how members vote.

Smaller crop, strong dollar reduce apple exports

- Washington apple exports have fallen dramatically because of a smaller crop, stronger dollar reducing buying power of other countries and increased volumes of new varieties targeted at domestic markets.