Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Identifying grapevine fungus may help fight disease

- A master's degree graduate at Washington State University has been instrumental in identifying more fungal species that cause grapevine trunk disease.

Washington agriculture weighs impacts of piece-rate court ruling

- Washington's tree fruit industry and other labor-intensive agriculture are grappling with a state Supreme Court ruling requiring piece-rate workers be paid separately for rest breaks. The industry fears civil litigation may...

Irrigation ends in some Yakima tributaries

- Water for some pre-statehood water right holders in two Yakima River tributaries is curtailed because of drought. Likely means no crop for some apple orchards.

Researchers hope to test robotic apple picker

- Testing of a robotic apple picker may occur this fall by Washington State University engineers and scientists. A successful system could alleviate labor shortages and save growers a lot in labor costs.

Roza Irrigation District growers get small water bump

- Growers in the Yakima Valley's Roza Irrigation District are getting a water bump in hot weather but are watching crops suffer from inadequate water and hot weather.

Yakima Basin reservoirs 78 percent of average

- Yakima Basin will make do this season and have some water left for next year unless another extended heat wave takes place.

Victims of Washington’s largest wildfire begin long road to recovery

- It's been one year since the Carlton Complex wildfire devastated much of Okanogan County.

Wenatchee Valley irrigation district reduces water

- The Peshastin Irrigation District, serving pear growers in part of Washington's Wenatchee Valley, is cutting water deliveries one-third because of low flows in Peshastin Creek.

Compressed crop squeezes cherry prices

- Cherries were early but it wasn't the best season as heat and oversupply caused prices to drop, a grower says.

Packers assess damage in massive Wenatchee wildfire

- Tree fruit packers in Wenatchee, Wash., continue to assess the extent of damages from the June 28 Sleepy Hollow Fire. Investigators seek the public's help in determining the cause.

Domex ships Gala apples to China

- The first U.S. apple variety other than Red and Golden Delicious have been shipped directly to China under a new agreement.

Wenatchee wildfire losses reach $100 million

- Winds pushed a grass fire into the north end of Wenatchee, Wash., late Sunday, June 28, burning more than two dozen homes and several tree fruit businesses and causing the evacuation of hundreds of residences.

Wildfire ravages parts of Wenatchee

- Winds accelerated a grass fire into the north end of Wenatchee, Wash., late Sunday, June 28, burning more than a dozen homes and several tree fruit industry-related businesses and causing the evacuation of hundreds of resid...

Smaller U.S. apple crop foreseen

- A slightly smaller U.S. apple crop in 2015 should help wholesale apple prices and grower returns improve. Heat damage is a growing concern for the Washington crop.

Northwest cherry growers report lighter crop

- Rain, heat, drought and lack of labor has nibbled at the Pacific Northwest cherry crop, reducing it 10 to 20 percent. Demand is good heading into Fourth of July sales.

State Department resumes issuing guestworker visas

- The U.S. State Department is again issuing visas to Mexican farmworkers to enter the U.S. temporarily to work in agricultural jobs.

Small farm does well with blueberries

- A small farm make a business out of growing 200,000 pounds of blueberries annually along with other berries, apples and running a restaurant.

Demand high for record blueberry crop

- Washington stands to become the nation's No. 1 blueberry producer this year but, despite growth, is working to keep up with demand.

Pelletized compost may have many uses

- Three businessmen with farm backgrounds have spent five years perfecting what they believe is the first pelletized compost for precision agriculture. They foresee many applications.

Some worry as more production moves outside U.S.

- Labor shortages and costs, regulatory burden, the Endangered Species Act, drought and desire for year-round produce are pushing U.S. agricultural production to other countries. Some worry it's a food security risk.

Roza orchards losing to drought

- Growers are removing some apple orchards in the drought-stricken Roza Irrigation District in Washington's Yakima Valley to save water for other orchards.

Ecology appoints new Columbia River director

- The director of the Washington Department of Ecology's Central Regional Office has been tapped as new director of the department's Office of Columbia River.

Washington snowpack officially gone

- Washington's mountain snowpack is gone about a month earlier than normal which means irrigators are dependent on reservoirs and wells.

Computer problem stops printing of guestworker visas

- The U.S. State Department has quit producing visas for agricultural workers from Mexico to enter the U.S. at the border at Tijuana. It happened last year and hurts growers, mainly tree fruit orchardists in Washington state.

PNW hop acreage up 16 percent

- Hop growers have increased acreage an estimated 16 percent this season in a continuing quest to meet demand of the growing small, craft brewery market.

2014 apple crop still shrinking

- Packers continue to shrink remaining amounts of Washington's huge 2014 apple crop to reduce carryover into the upcoming crop and try to improve wholesale prices.

Tree fruit growers assess hail damage

- Growers and cooperatives continue to assess tree fruit damage from Manson to Chelan from a May 29 hailstorm. So far, crop loss, mostly apples, is believed to be in excess of $18 million. Some growers don't have insurance.

Columbia Basin first-cutting rough go

- Rain damaged a fair amount of first-cutting alfalfa in Washington's Columbia Basin leaving quality at less than desired. Dairies are waiting to see if subsequent cuttings are better and exporters are holding back for the sa...

Congressional proposals aim at keeping ports open

- A Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry leader favors new Senate bills but wonders if they will be sufficient to keep U.S. ports operating normally through future labor disputes.

$2.25 million ICE fine shocks tree fruit industry

- A major Washington tree fruit company has agreed to pay $2.25 million in penalties to close several years of ICE audits of its workforce that at one point found 1,700 unauthorized workers. The company is not free from possi...

Cherry growers hope to dodge rain as harvest shifts into high gear

- Rain and hail has damaged Washington's cherry crop a little. Growers are anxious to avoid any more of that as they approach the main harvest.

Hail destroys apples, cherries

- A hail storm wiped out mostly apples and some cherries around Manson, Wash., May 29, causing an estimated $10 million to $12 million in losses.

PNW pear crop will be early, average size

- This year's Pacific Northwest pears will come early. The industry anticipates another good year of strong prices and growing exports to China.

Roza Irrigation District turns water on again

- The Roza Irrigation District is diverting water from the Yakima River again and a court has approved more than 8,000 acre-feet in water transfers.

Washington Apple Commission boosts its reserves

- The Washington Apple Commission has tripled its reserves for the possibility of food safety scares, loss of federal funding and other emergencies.