Cold, wet weather halts field work

Bob Brawdy/Tri-City Herald via Associated Press From left, Marilou Ramirez, Gabino Flores and Guadelupe Ortiz work down a row of asparagus harvesting fresh spears on April 5 in a field at Middleton Six Sons Farms about two miles from Pasco, Wash. Though this yearÕs asparagus crop is about 10 days ahead of normal, a cold snap hit other parts of the state, threatening some of the tree fruit crop and slowing planting operations. Laura MIddleton, asparagus marketing manager, said the farm started picking its 180 acres of asparagus on March 31.

Some freeze damage of buds reported in Washington

By DAN WHEAT

Capital Press

Cold, wet weather April 2-4 brought much-needed moisture to eastern Washington but also halted the seeding of spring wheat and other crops, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Spring seeding of all crops had been well ahead of normal before the rain and snow, NASS said. Spring grains were emerging and winter wheat looked good in major counties, NASS said. Hay supplies were tightening but were still good, said NASS in an April 5 report.

There was some freeze damage of cherry buds in Grant County and the cold snap slowed development and pollination of fruit trees in Chelan County where cherries had entered bloom, but not apples or pears, NASS said.

Peaches and nectarines were blooming in the Yakima Valley and there was hand thinning of blossoms. Cherries were entering bloom.

Andy Gale, general manager of Stemilt AgServices, said there's been light but no widespread bud or blossom damage in the tree fruit industry from the cold snap. He said growers are concerned about more cold forecast for April 9 and 10.

Stemilt AgServices manages about 8,000 acres of Stemilt-owned, leased and managed orchards from the Tri-Cities to the Okanogan.

Stemilt's Ice Harbor orchard, east of Pasco, was held to 28 degrees with wind machines, propane heaters and irrigation, Gale said. Temperatures outside the orchard dropped to 20 degrees, he said. Cherry buds are safe to 29 degrees this time of year, he said.

There has been bud damage in Mattawa and Quincy, he said.

Doug Stetner, a Quincy potato grower, said wet weather shut down planting for a few days, but that most growers hadn't quite started yet. He said larger growers had started because they have more acres to plant.

Paul Katovich, assistant manager of Central Washington Grain Growers Inc. in Waterville, said most of the Douglas County winter wheat crop is still dormant, but seeding of spring wheat and tilling to fallow of last fall's crop was put on hold for a few days because of mud.

Crop quality is the big concern because of poor seeding conditions last fall, he said.

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