Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Israeli company works on robotic apple picker

- Companies in Israel and California are the only two in the world actively working on developing robotic apple pickers as a solution to a shortage of human pickers.

Early apple volumes, prices strong

- Washington’s Gala, Honeycrisp and Golden Delicious apple crops picked out more than expected and early prices are stronger than a year ago.

Labor contractor fined $105,000 for no license

- The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has levied its largest fine against a labor contractor for allegedly operating without a license. The $105,000 fine is based on a history of prior violations.

Fazio, WAFLA sued for sexual harassment, discrimination

- The farm labor association WAFLA, the largest supplier of H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers in the Northwest, and its director are accused in a lawsuit of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Software provides genetic, management calf value

- A Washington cattle seed stock producer gives buyers overview of new profit value calculator during bull and cow sale.

Apple foundation honors volunteers

- The Washington Apple Education Foundation recognized more than 200 volunteers at its annual appreciation breakfast. The foundation awards nearly $1 million annually in scholarship to students from tree fruit families.

Collaboration key, robotic apple picker inventor says

- The California developer of a robotic apple picker says listening to potential customers and other inventors increases a new product’s chances of success.

Washington apple exports could soon improve

- The 2017-18 sales season could better than several years for Washington apple exports but international tensions bring uncertainty.

Growers get latest Cosmic Crisp horticultural tips

- Washington State University tree fruit researchers shared their latest perspectives on how to grow the new Cosmic Crisp apple variety with growers at a recent field day south of Wenatchee.

Ranchers plead guilty to gun charges

- Four members of a prominent wheat and cattle ranching family in Douglas County, Washington, have pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of illegally dealing in firearms.

Meeting planned for farmworkers

- Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, with the help of the state Labor Council and United Farm Workers of America, is meeting with farmworkers in Yakima to inform them of their rights and discuss labor issues.

PNW pear crop close to estimates

- Pacific Northwest pears are about 60 percent picked with some quality issues and strong prices on early sales. California’s crop is 80 percent shipped.

Amazon-Whole Foods combination may lead to organic price war, economist says

- A retired Washington State University agricultural economist and apple expert says a food price war could be coming with Amazon buying Whole Foods and it could hurt organic produce.

Foreign guestworkers help ag face a growing shortage

- The number of foreign guestworkers used to harvest Washington state crops jumped 37 percent this year from last. It’s indicative, sources say, of a continuing labor shortage.

Hop stocks continue to outrun demand

- The pre-harvest inventory of U.S. hops is significantly greater than a year ago, indicative of over supply and pressure on the supply chain.

Washington orchard strike resolved

- A labor dispute at a Quincy, Wash., orchard has been resolved with foreign guestworkers told they maybe rehired next year if they do good work but that there’s no guarantee.

Apple, pear pickers cope with wildfire smoke

- Smoke from wildfires in the Cascade Mountains has plagued apple and pear pickers in the Wenatchee Valley and elsewhere in Northcentral Washington for many days. It maybe benefitting fruit more than hurting, but is making pi...

Study outlines economic impact of H-2A workers

- Foreign seasonal farmworkers hired by Washington growers through the farm labor association WAFLA harvested $424.3 million in tree fruit value in 2015, a report says. WAFLA says it shows the economic value of foreign farmwo...

Co-ops give mixed reviews on Department of Labor inspections

- The manager of Chelan Fruit Cooperative in Chelan, Wash., feels good about audit inspections this summer by the U.S. Department of Labor. But the manager of a neighboring co-op warns good feelings maybe premature.

Ag DACA damage could be minimal

- Ending deportation deferrals for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children may not be a big hit to agriculture, an immigration attorney says. Most of them are in other occupations, he says.

Cherries — too much of a good thing

- Northwest cherry growers were victims of their own success this season, unable to keep the prices they wanted because of oversupply. They will ponder what to do in coming months.

Fruit companies dump old crop apples

- Old crop apples that don’t meet industry standards for fresh-market packing or processing for juice are being dumped in Central Washington but likely not at levels of two years ago.

Smaller apple crops elsewhere may benefit Washington marketers

- A slightly smaller U.S. apple crop and big reductions in Michigan, Europe and Mexico all bode well for Washington to improve sales and pricing this season on its large crop.

Settlement reached in Washington dairy pay lawsuit

- A judge has granted preliminary approval of a settlement in part of a wage dispute case farmworkers have with a Sunnyside, Wash., dairy.

West Coast hay exports begin to rebound

- It’s a slow recovery for U.S. hay exporters from oversupply the last couple of years, due to the West Coast port slowdown of 2014 and 2015. Alfalfa prices have improved but are still too low for growers and exporters...