Dan Wheat

Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Okanogan flood damage likely to reach millions

- The Okanogan Valley, particularly from Oroville to Tonasket, has been flooded since May 5 and likely will be for another three weeks. Growers are dealing with fruit tree, hay and garlic losses.

PNW sweet cherry forecast down 22.7 percent

- The Pacific Northwest fresh, sweet cherry forecast is down 22.7 percent from last year’s record crop due to poor blossom pollination in the spring. It should mean better prices and the industry is hoping for a turnar...

Rayapati named WSU assistant dean, IAREC director

- A 14-year professor and wine grape virologist at Washington State University, Naidu Rayapati, has been named an assistant dean of agriculture in the Tri-Cities and director of the university’s Irrigated Agriculture R...

PUD extends cryptocurrency power moratorium

- Chelan County Public Utility commissioners, in Wenatchee, Wash., have continued into August a moratorium on electricity requests from cryptocurrency miners. In three years, crypto requests could more than double the PUD...

Northwest hay stocks tight, producers say

- The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports on-farm hay stocks up in Oregon and Idaho and down in Washington from a year ago. But sources in Oregon and Washington say most everything on farms is sold and that inven...

Okanogan’s worst flooding in 46 years inundates farms

- Rapid mountain snowmelt is flooding rivers in northcentral and northeastern Washington, particularly 70-plus miles of the Okanogan River from the Canadian border to Brewster.

Yakima hotel converts to farmworker housing

- Valicoff Fruit Company, of Wapato, and other agricultural interests are turning a Yakima hotel into housing for seasonal farmworkers, including H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers.

Shippers sell record 3 million boxes a week amid apple excess

- Washington apple companies are pushing to sell as many apples as they can to reduce 2017 oversupply before facing competition from cherries, other summer fruits and their own 2018 harvest.

New California egg initiative stirs opposition from animal rights groups

- A new measure to ban the caging of egg-laying hens and confinement of other farm animals may make the California general election ballot. But some animal rights groups oppose it.

Washington snowpack lingers; irrigation supply plentiful

- Washington’s mountain snowpack, critical for summer irrigation of farmland, held better than it might have through April because of cool weather. Irrigation water should be good.

Washington cherry crop looks to be light in south

- Some growers in the Mattawa region of Washington have light cherry crops and say it’s likely that way on southward. A Pasco area grower says it’s not heavy, but adequate.

Ag employers like Trump’s guestworker comments

- Agricultural groups working on immigration reform like President Donald Trump’s pro-guestworker comments in Michigan. Trump said agricultural guestworkers are needed.

Fruit tree rootstock takes time, money

- Washington’s leading nursery in fruit tree rootstock nears the end of a month of planting. When buds of apple, pear and cherry varieties are grafted onto them in August they will grow trees for orchard planting in sp...

Cosmic Crisp plantings beat estimate

- About 1 million more Cosmic Crisp apple trees are being planted this spring than were estimated in December. Some growers worry about oversupply.

California starts picking light cherry crop

- Picking is just beginning of California’s 2018 sweet cherry crop near Bakersfield. The crop maybe less than half last year’s record volume because of bad weather and poor pollination.

Fruit growers eye frost, pollination

- Tree fruit growers in the Northwest, Midwest and East hope to make it through frost season with no major losses. Poor pollination weather may make for a light cherry crop in the southern half of Central Washington.

Brown marmorated stink bug reports increase

- Washington State University entomologists are receiving increasing reports of brown marmorated stink bugs, mostly from Western Washington.

Priest Rapids Dam leak blamed on adhesion loss

- A loss of adhesion between two layers of concrete is responsible for a leak in Priest Rapids Dam south of the town of Desert Aire, Wash., public utility officials say.

Newhouse seeks new grizzly comment period

- Saying Okanogan County residents were ignored at a public forum, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., asks Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reopen public comment on grizzly recovery plan.

Washington apple prices stabilize

- Wholesale Washington apple prices stabilized in March but whether or not that continues through April is questionable. A large crop, Amazon getting into food and Chinese tarffs dampen prices.

Deal brings Phytelligence fruit technology to India

- The Seattle agricultural biotechnology company Phytelligence will supply India with modern rootstocks and tree fruit, grape, nut and berry varieties.

Stemilt to pay $95,000 in sexual harassment settlement

- One of Washington’s largest tree fruit companies, Stemilt Growers, has agreed to pay a Latina tractor driver $95,000 to end a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Washington’s snowpack still above normal

- Washington’s mountain snowpack, critical for summer irrigation of farmland, is better at the start of April than it was at the start of March and start of February.

Employees buy Ward Rugh hay company

- The oldest hay company in Ellensburg, Wash., Ward Rugh, Inc., has been bought by three employees who say they will move forward with the same conservative business philosophy.

Irrigators pursue Bureau of Reclamation assets

- Kennewick Irrigation District, served by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Yakima Basin Project, is seeking title to at least some canal assets as it finishes paying a $4.6 million lease-loan.

Indonesia still frustrates apple shippers

- Indonesia has defied World Trade Organization rulings for well over a year that it is too restrictive on agricultural goods from other countries, including U.S. apples.

Tree fruit trade groups to combine by July

- Northwest Horticultural Council and Northwest Fruit Exporters move closer to combining operations that they’ve been working toward for a couple of years.

Utility district investigates Priest Rapids Dam leak

- Four years after a crack was discovered at Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River in Central Washington, sister dam Priest Rapids, 19 miles downriver, is found leaking more than normal. There is no imminient danger, says owner-o...

Dried GMO apple ‘bits’ debut on Amazon.com

- The Canadian producer of genetically-modified, non-browning apples has begun selling them in dried, snack bites after selling fresh slices last November. Supplies are limited but will increase in the future.

Zinke grizzly decision draws criticism from ranchers

- Lifting a December hold, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke angers ranchers and delights grizzly bear proponents by allowing North Cascade grizzly bear recovery to proceed.

Apple Commission to promote proprietary varieties overseas

- Some promotions of proprietary varieties can be a useful, new tool in overseas efforts by the Washington Apple Commission, its president says.