Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

PNW cherry harvest moving well

- Packouts are rebounding after June 18 rain damage and Pacific Northwest cherry volume will remain heavy the next two weeks with supply fairly even with demand.

Washington leads again in blueberries

- For the second year in a row, Washington leads the nation in blueberry production. About 70 percent of the state’s crop is processed and 30 percent sold fresh.

Big apple states expecting larger crops

- Washington and Michigan eye larger fall apple crops and New York’s early forecast comes soon. Industry leaders expect strong prices to continue.

Ag’s reaction to Supreme Court’s immigration ruling mixed

- Upheld or not, Obama’s order on immigration would have benefitted illegal workers but not alleviated labor shortages, agricultural leaders say.

Difficult year for Washington apple exports

- A strong dollar, small crop and high prices all contributed to a decline in Washington apple exports over the 2015 sales season that ends this fall.

Rain takes a bite out of Washington cherry crop

- A heavy rain damaged Washington’s cherry crop June 18, but there’s still plenty of fruit and later fruit that wasn't damaged.

Maritime weigh-in rule dispute appears resolved

- An association representing 19 major ocean carriers has agreed to accept combined cargo-container weights from marine terminals to keep exports moving.

Pear Bureau loses organic promotion funding

- A majority of organic fresh pear growers and shippers in the Pacific Northwest have decided to drop out of generic promotions by The Pear Bureau Northwest in favor of promoting their own brands.

PNW hop acreage records may be broken

- The United States, Washington and Idaho may set new records in hop acreage harvested this year while Oregon is far short of its record set in 1935.

Members of Congress tell administration to speed up H-2A applications

- More than 100 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, fault federal agencies for failure to process H-2A-visa foreign farmworker applications on time.

Washington teen eager to become a farmer

- At 14 and 15 years of age, Ian McGregor is conducting his own field corn field trials. He can't become a farmer soon enough.

Mexico drops temporary tariffs against Washington apples

- Mexico has dropped tariffs ranging from 2.44 to 20.82 percent on Washington apple exporters, ending a case of alleged apple dumping against them.

Cherries escape first heat wave

- Washington and Oregon cherry growers are well into harvest with finding enough workers their main issue as fruit quality stands up to first blast of hot weather.

Yakima irrigators cross their fingers

- Growers lost millions of dollars in crops the Yakima Basin last season due to drought. They hope to get through this summer and fall with no water restrictions but it's iffy.

Washington’s snowpack going fast, but reservoirs full

- Washington mountain snowpack is going, going, going. Yakima Basin reservoirs, vital for farm irrigation, are full and beginning their summer drawdowns.

Pacific Northwest pear crop early, light

- Pear producers foresee another early harvest in the Pacific Northwest but the crop will be lighter, which should benefit pricing for growers.

Farmworker shortage costs Canadian growers $1.5B a year, study finds

- Canada faces an increasing shortage of farmworkers and will need more foreign guestworkers to maintain its tree fruit and vegetable sectors.

Domestic, foreign labor in short supply in Central Washington

- Central Washington growers are dealing with a shortage of domestic farmworkers and delays in getting foreign H-2A-visa guestworkers.

U.S. farms hiring more workers, survey shows

- The first of two annual U.S. farm labor reports for the year by USDA shows a 2 percent increase in farm workers hired in April compared with a year earlier.

Washington cherry growers have good export opportunities

- Rain and strength of the U.S. dollar hindering overseas buying power cut California cherry exports by half leaving opportunity for Washington exporters.

Harvest of a light PNW cherry crop begins

- With Washington cherry harvest starting two week earlier than normal, growers are anxious for good weather as they forecast a lighter crop.

Workers paid in blueberry wage case

- The first workers are being paid in a court settlement in a Walla Walla County, Wash., blueberry wage case.

Apple Commission sets its annual budget

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

Apple assessment voting method changes

- State law has been amended to give the Washington Apple Commission the change it wanted in the method of voting on future changes to growers' assessment rates.

Apple commission chief pushes logo

- With the world apple export market expected to grow tougher, the Washington Apple Commission president says companies should use the state's generic apple logo more.

Apple Commission to update export plan

- Saying it wants to stay competitive globally, the Washington Apple Commission will look at industry production, export and sales data to update its strategic plan for export promotions.

Maritime rule may slow ports


Slowdowns could plague West Coast seaports again depending on how terminal operators, ocean carriers and shippers handle a new maritime rule, the head of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition says.

So far severa...

High-tech line can switch between red, Rainier cherries

- As cherry season winds down in California and begins in Washington, manufacturers tout their latest achievements in high-tech, optical cherry sizing and sorting equipment.

Prominent vineyard wraps up planting


ROCK ISLAND, Wash. — One of the most visible new vineyards in Northcentral Washington has reached a milestone.

On May 16 crews finished planting the last 100 acres of Spanish Castle Vineyard, between Rock Is...

Columbia Basin growers bring in hay early, face weak prices


QUINCY, Wash. — Ben Schaapman started first-cutting alfalfa two weeks earlier than normal again this year in fields just south of Quincy in the upper Columbia Basin.

Normally, he starts swathing in mid-May. ...

Researcher studies tools ranging from netting to X-ray meters


WENATCHEE, Wash. — Lee Kalcsits considers himself to be fortunate. At just 33, he has a top job in Washington state tree fruit physiology.

“I’ve always loved working in tree fruit,” he s...

Diseased wine grapes damages wine


PROSSER, Wash. — Grapevine leafroll disease significantly lowers alcohol and coloring agents in wine grapes and thus in wine, especially in cooler growing seasons, a Washington State University study has concluded...

Reform needed to increase labor supply, immigrants say


ROCK ISLAND, Wash. — The shortage of tree fruit workers in Central Washington is significant and immigration reform is needed, say a couple who have spent their lifetime picking and packing fruit in the greater We...

Agencies try to speed up H-2A process


Federal agencies have changed procedures to expedite the processing of applications for foreign farmworkers to work in the United States.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State announ...

Immigrant goes from boxing to picking fruit


ROCK ISLAND, Wash. — One night in June of 1981, Victor Hugo Vega approached two men in Tijuana, Mexico, and asked them if they’d ever been to the United States.

They said they hadn’t.


PNW anticipates good cherry crop; California crop hit by rain


YAKIMA, Wash. — A 20.7 million, 20-pound-box Pacific Northwest cherry crop is forecast to start harvest the last full week of May while California’s harvest has been devastated by rain.

The Californi...

Washington tree fruit industry to top $1 million in scholarships


WENATCHEE, Wash. — The Washington Apple Education Foundation will award more than $1 million in scholarships to tree fruit-related college bound students this spring.

It’s a major milestone that the ...

Rapid Washington snowmelt fills streams


YAKIMA, Wash. — April was a month of rapid snowmelt in the Washington Cascades giving irrigators plenty of water, but it may not last into late summer in valleys with little or no reservoirs.

Pear orchards i...

Growers staff up for cherry harvest


WENATCHEE, Wash. — A total of 682 people applied for cherry sorting and packing jobs in association with Stemilt Growers’ 12th annual job fair on May 2, as Pacific Northwest growers and packers hire workers...