Dan Wheat

Central Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

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.

Growers cope with Roza shutdown

- Growers in the Yakima Valley's Roza Irrigation District deal with a temporary water shutdown intended to save water for July and August.

Obama immigration action may be dead, labor leader says

- A federal appeals court has upheld an injunction against the president's executive action on immigration. A Washington state farm labor leaders says it's probably dead.

Roza District likely to turn water on again June 1

- It looks like Washington's Roza Irrigation District will begin providing water to farmers again on June 1 but a possible May 29 water forecast update could delay that.

WSU proceeds with McFerson consideration

- It's not a done deal, but Washington State University is working on a contract to hire the manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission as director of the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center.

Apples to flow between U.S., China

- It likely will take time to reach any volume, but greater trade of apples between the U.S. and China is being allowed after years of efforts.

Early crop gives NW cherry growers high hopes

- Pacific Northwest cherry growers are just starting to harvest a lighter crop with more defects but are delighted by the prospect of record June volume and good prices.

California cherries wrap up light

- California's cherry crop may fall short of its estimate but good quality and timing sets a good table for Washington.

Roza District keeps looking for water; forecast drops

- Summer water supply in Washington's Yakima Basin is now forecast at 44 percent of normal because of drought. A major irrigation district continues its quest for water to lease.

Governor candidate has agriculture background

- An international trade consultant and Port of Seattle commissioner has announced his candidacy for Washington governor.

Seattle port terminal to close for oil protest

- One of the Port of Seattle's terminals will close Monday because of protests planned related to Shell Oil Co. storing Arctic drilling equipment at the port.

Rain eases drought, but not much

- Several days of rain gave some short-term relief to Central and Eastern Washington farmers dealing with drought but also damaged some first-cutting alfalfa.

WSU still looking at McFerson for Extension job

- Washington State University is continuing to consider Jim McFerson, manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, for the directorship of the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center. A decision may be made ...

Irrigators cope as streamflow forecasts drop

- A large irrigation district in Washington's Yakima Valley has started a temporary shut down, is trying to lease water and use emergency wells as summer streamflow forecasts continue to drop.

Dairies, environmentalists settle lawsuit

- A long legal battle between three dairies in the Sunnyside, Wash., area and citizen and environmental groups over ground water contamination has ended with a pre-trial settlement.

WSU Extension hires new tree fruit specialist

- A Penn State Extension educator will take the WSU Extension tree fruit specialist job in Wenatchee, Nov. 1.

Apple growers on fire blight watch

- Washington state may escape its fire blight danger zone relatively unscathed, but growers in New York are on the bubble, a tree fruit specialist says.

Food safety top apple industry concern, leader says

- The president of the U.S. Apple Association says food safety has become the top concern in the Washington apple industry following a listeria outbreak in California apples that caused three deaths last winter.

Export, import picture helping apple sales

- More exports and less imports are helping Washington apple shippers as they are pressed for time to sell the rest of the 2014 crop.