Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Apple industry giant Bill Evans dies at 87

- Bill Evans, co-founder and president of Evans Fruit Co., one of the largest tree fruit companies in Washington state, died Dec. 6. He was known as his own man, unafraid to stand alone on principle.

Developer wants robotic apple picker in orchards in 2018

- A robotic apple picker maybe commercially ready for orchards in two years and practical and affordable within 10 years, its developer says.

New apple poised for record-setting launch

- Washington apple producers have ordered more than 8.7 million new Cosmic Crisp apple trees to plant in the next three years which means production could reach 9 million boxes in three to five years. That’s believed t...

Apples fit millennials’ values, Wal-Mart representative says

- Freshness, consistent quality and good taste are what millennials look for in fruit and most foods, a Wal-Mart store representative tells Washington tree fruit growers.

Members of Congress push for more hops research

- Resources should be reallocated so that hop research can be expanded into two, full-time USDA-ARS positions, more than 100 members of Congress say.

SugarBee apples head to stores this month

- A new apple variety, SugarBee, that may rival Honeycrisp, is being test marketed for the first time in stores this month by Chelan Fresh Marketing.

New fund helps removal of Western dams

- The Hewlett Foundation has put $50 million into a new fund to remove obsolete dams and improve rivers throughout the West.

Judge blocks rule expanding overtime pay

- A court ruling in Texas has prevented the expansion of overtime pay to an estimated 4.2 million workers nationwide, saving employer expense.

State, Homeland Security candidates question marks for ag

- Two contenders for key posts in the new Trump administration may not be best for labor-intensive agriculture, an industry leader says. Ag is worried about tough immigration action without a help for ag labor.

PNW pear sales post a good start

- Despite an abundance of Bartlett causing a dip from high prices, it looks like a pear crop moderate in size but good in quality will bring good returns for Northwest growers.

WAFLA hires COO, opens training center

- The farm labor association, WAFLA, has a new chief operating officer with an extensive business background and opened a new training center in Kennewick as it looks to keep expanding.

West Coast H-2A minimum wage likely to increase

- USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has released data for the basis of increasing the minimum wage for H-2A workers by 5.44 percent in Washington and Oregon next year.

Minimum wage, sick leave hits Washington employers

- Passed by voters in the Nov. 8 general election, Initiative 1433 increases the minimum wage, most likely more than it would have been otherwise, over the next few years and requires employers to provide sick leave to all em...

Zirkle Fruit buying Wanapum Village

- A large Central Washington tree fruit company is buying a former dam construction village perhaps to use for farmworker housing.

‘Lay a hand on it,’ Farm Bureau speaker says

- Always offering assistance and doing more than required are keys to professionalism, a leadership expert tells the Washington Farm Bureau’s annual meeting.

Organic apple grower inspired at tilth conference

- About 450 people attended Washington’s annual Tilth Conference in Wenatchee where the keynote speaker, a New Hampshire apple grower, focused on soil health.

Washington fruit grower claims DOL harassment

- A Washington tree fruit grower who lost his workforce in 2013 after a federal audit now says a year later he fell victim to an unfair U.S. Department of Labor wage and hour investigation that’s still ongoing.

Red Delicious volume up, prices falling

- Washington’s large apple crop has grown in Red Delicious since Aug. 1 causing their prices to fall. But other varieties are holding steady on price as volumes drop.

Election provides hope for immigration, H-2A reform

- Leaders representing agricultural employers are optimistic a new Trump administration and Congress will improve the H-2A visa foreign guestworker program and reform immigration.

Easement close for cherry orchard expansion

- The Washington public lands commissioner is close to finalizing a water pipeline easement on state land that will enable the Mathison family to plant high-elevation cherry orchards.

WAFLA contests AG investigation

- The farm labor association WAFLA has gone to court to stop the state attorney general’s continued investigation into the group's giving advice to growers on a state wage survey last year.

PMA, ILWU talk contract extension to avoid repeat of port slowdown

- The two parties responsible for the 2014-2015 slowdown of cargo movement at West Coast ports have begun talking about renewing their contract that expires in 2019.

Farmworker housing schedule slips

- Washington Growers League’s plans to build housing for 144 beds for seasonal farmworker housing in Mattawa are behind schedule but will be finished next year.

Another tight year for farm labor

- The West Coast still is experiencing tight seasonal farm labor with employers paying more, hiring more foreign guestworkers and sometimes leaving crops unpicked. Washington, the largest Western user of H-2A-visa foreign gue...

Wet October pushes refill of Yakima reservoirs

- The Yakima Basin’s mountain reservoirs are ahead of normal refilling because of good rains, providing a good start to the 2017 water year.

Apple Commission warily eyes export challenges

- Iincreasing apple production in China is just one of many challenges facing Washington apple exporters.

Western Innovator: Keeping apples fresher longer

- Plant physiologist David Rudell would like to eliminate superficial scald and other postharvest disorders in apples and pears.

Tree fruit trade groups’ merger effort slows

- The Northwest Horticultural Council and Northwest Fruit Exporters have been looking at a merger for two years. It may or may not happen.

Agency too slow on H-2A applications, farm labor director says

- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services doesn’t seem interested in helping a foreign guestworker program work for agriculture, a farm labor organization director says.

Stink bug spreads across Washington state

- Washington crops could be endangered by brown marmorated stink bugs next year. An uptick in trappings has scientists concerned.

Apples remain top Washington state crop

- Apples led Washington’s agricultural production for the 11th year in a row in 2015 with $2.4 billion of the state’s total $10.7 billion in farmgate value.

Larger Washington apple crop may weigh on prices

- Washington’s 2016 apple crop is growing and the larger it becomes the more challenging the sales season becomes.