Dan Wheat

Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Unhealthy smoke slows fruit picking

- Apple and pear pickers are coping with excessive smoke from wildfires polluting skies of Central Washington. Some pickers are not going to work. Others are working shorter hours and some wear masks.

Committee tables vote on Yakima nitrate plan

- A Yakima County committee that’s been working since 2012 remains shy of a vote to adopt a plan addressing nitrate contamination of water in the Lower Yakima Valley.

Europe foresees record apple crop

- Europe is projecting it’s largest apple crop which increases competition for Washington apples overseas in the coming year of sales.

Laser hazer keeps birds at bay in orchards

- A Wenatchee, Wash., tree fruit company, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, says lasers work well in protecting fruit from bird pecks. Also used for blueberries in Oregon.

Forecast pushes Red Delicious out of top volume spot

- After 83 years as No. 1 in volume, Red Delicious is expected to fall to Gala in the Washington apple harvest now starting. Honeycrisp and organics continue upward. Tariffs cause export worries.

Irrigation transfer bill introduced

- U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., is introducing a bill to transfer 40 miles of irrigation canal and laterals from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to the Kennewick Irrigation District.

More review for North Cascade grizzly plan

- Federal agencies say they will “take appropriate additional time to consider and evaluate further stakeholder input” regarding reintroduction of grizzly bears into the North Cascades of Washington.

Next steps in automated apple picking

- A Moses Lake, Wash., company, Automated Ag Systems, has teamed up with a Michigan firm to provide growers with what maybe the best harvest assist for apples shy of robotic pickers. Automated Ag also is working with an Israe...

Washington Apple Commission signs import deal with Indonesia

- A Washington Apple Commission and Indonesian import agreement could be a precursor to Indonesian compliance with a WTO ruling and improved trade.

H-2A usage in WA may increase 60 percent

- Usage of H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers may jump 60 percent this year in Washington state as growers say the availability of domestic labor continues to tighten.

No vote for ag labor bill before recess

- A bill seeking to improve the availability of farmworkers fails to get a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives before the August recess. Advocates pledge to keep working.

Members of Congress petition Trump on Obama-era silicon tariffs

- A major silicon plant in Moses Lake, Wash., has laid off 300 workers in recent years and is in jeopardy of laying off 200 more and closing if tariffs that pre-date the Trump administration are not resolved, congressional me...

Cherries doing better than last July

- Northwest cherry marketers had a good June and continue doing better this July than a year ago despite loss of sales to China. Good quality and a smaller crop helps.

Gebbers testifies against tariffs on Northwest fruit

- The largest sweet cherry producer in the world, Cass Gebbers of Brewster, Wash., is among five farmers testifying to a congressional subcommittee that tariffs are a huge hurt.

Fruit leader offers immigration solution

- The president of the California Fresh Fruit Association says immigration could be solved with Congress doing what it can and the president doing the rest by agreement with Mexico.

Ag groups split over latest House labor bill

- It’s unclear whether an agricultural labor bill, promised a vote by House Speaker Paul Ryan, will get that vote or not. Some agricultural groups support it and some oppose it.

Washington fires threaten homes, keep firefighters on go

- Wildfires stretched firefighting resources near Wenatchee, Wash., and 50 miles to the east near Soap Lake during the weekend. Homes were threatened, evacuated and saved north of Soap Lake and in less direct danger in Wenatc...

USDA-funded housing open to H-2A workers again

- Legislation by a Washington congressman is being implemented by USDA to restore certain housing to usage by H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers.

Trusted tree fruit insider retires

- Bruce Grim has been involved in the Washington tree fruit industry for more than 50 years, for the last 17 in a unique position holding confidences of many top marketers for the collective good of all.

I-90 reopens as firefighters contain wildfire

- A fast-moving wildfire closed the main Seattle-to-Spokane interstate freeway and threatened a small Central Washington town early Tuesday but was under control Wednesday as was an earlier fire west of Wenatchee.

Wildfire closes I-90, threatens Washington town

- A fast-moving wildfire closed the main Seattle-to-Spokane interstate freeway and threatened a small Central Washington town early Tuesday, while an earlier fire west of Wenatchee appears on the decline.

Favorite blueberry patch shuts down

- A favorite U-pick blueberry farm closes shop, after six seasons, as small farming can be time consuming and a lot of work.

Congressman visits border seeking facts on immigration

- Washington’s Fourth District congressman calls a visit to the U.S.-Mexican border “eye-opening” and says he’s now more determined to work for immigration reform.

Wind poses threat in wildfire west of Wenatchee

- Firefighters worry strong winds could fan a wildfire about eight miles west of Wenatchee, Wash. Aircraft and 270 firefighters engaged with more on the way.

Record year predicted for California almond crop

- California almond growers anticipate a record-setting crop despite concerns earlier this year about frost during bloom. Harvest will start at the end of July in the Bakersfield vicinity.

U.S. hop acreage forecast at record high

- Despite a slowdown in the craft brewery growth rate and flat sales for big brewers, U.S. hop acreage is still climbing as new plantings come into full production.

Northwest cherry shipments set daily record

- The first half of the Northwest cherry season is finishing very well. Growers hope for continued good weather for the second half through July and into August.

Firefighters battle central Washington sagebrush fires

- Separate fires of unknown origins burned sagebrush about 20 miles and 24 hours apart near Quincy and George, Wash.

Perdue pushes help for farmers hurt by trade war

- Speaking to agricultural and timber leaders in Spokane Monday morning, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said he wants to see government relief by Labor Day for farmers hurt in trade disputes.

Start-ups awarded $500,000 to help relieve ag labor woes

- Technology innovators have received substantial awards in a first-of-its-kind competition to help increase farm efficiences to combat labor shortages.

Immigration bill fails in U.S. House; still hope for ag labor reform

- A compromise Republican immigration and DACA bill was defeated June 27 but some lawmakers expect a separate vote before August on changes for agricultural labor to alleviate labor shortages.

Apple forecast up; labor, trade worries remain

- Apple producers from around the nation, meeting in New York, foresee a slightly larger national apple crop. Worries center on lack of labor affecting quality and tariffs affecting trade.