Dan Wheat

Washington Reporter
Wheat, Dan

Beekeeper calls pollinator protection bill an overreaction

- An Oregon congressman has reintroduced a bill to ban certain pesticides to protect honeybees. One of Washington’s largest beekeepers says that’s an overreaction.

Washington apple crop size, prices dip

- Washington wholesale apple prices slid in the past month and may slide more as the industry deals with its second largest crop that’s shrinking but is still large.

Minor hop states move to build acreage

- The Pacific Northwest overwhelmingly dominates U.S. hop production but minor states in the Midwest and East Coast are building their small acreages.

Washington wines still well positioned in market, broker says

- World wine consumption is flat, competition is keener but Washington remains well suited in the premium wine market, experts say at convention.

Warming causes worries for Washington snowpack

- Warm temperatures are forecast for the rest of February which could jeopardize Washington’s mountain snowpack needed for irrigation.

Yakima looks at fostering farmworker housing

- Tree fruit growers and a hops grower say they need housing for H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers and the city of Yakima is considering a new zoning category to help them.

Shaws chosen for wine hall of fame

- A Walla Walla, Wash., couple, who have grown their vineyard and winery business over the last 37 years, will be inducted into the state’s Wine Hall of Fame this summer.

Smoke taint stays in wine grapes, researchers say

- Researchers at the University of British Columbia say wildfire smoke taint stays in wine grapes a long time even when not smelled nor tasted. New testing can help growers know if they have too much smoke.

Company to launch new GM-apple product

- A Canadian company says its genetically-modified apple slices sold well in the U.S. Midwest and Southeast in November and it plans to unveil a new product soon.

Scientists battle cherry pests, diseases

- Little Cherry Disease and Spotted Wing Drospholia remain top concerns for scientists protecting Washington sweet cherries.

Western Growers opposes Goodlatte bill; immigration debate heats up

- A large produce trade organization is working against the Goodlatte H-2C bill saying it would devaste its growers by failing to assure an adequate workforce.

Groups seek greater H-2A worker protections

- Farmworker advocates are going through NAFTA to try to extend a U.S. farmworker protection law to H-2A-visa foreign guestworkers, but it wouldn’t do much in Washington state, a farm labor leader says.

New housing option for farmworkers

- A new farmworker housing choice is being offered by a Seattle company. Small units are affordable and portable, the company says.

Better pear ripening on horizon

- A Washington State University research scientist is fine tuning use of a ripening compound for pears to improve quality of whole fresh pears and advance development of sliced pears. The goal is increased pear consumption an...

Allan Bros. builds large apple packing plant

- Positioning itself to remain competitive, Allan Bros. Inc. in Naches, Wash., takes on a big investment to build a large, new apple storage and packing plant.

Higher density plantings help offset shrinkage in pear acres

- Washington is still capable to producing large pear crops despite continuing decline in acreage, the president of the Portland-based Pear Bureau Northwest says.

Washington H-2A guestworker use keeps growing

- Usage of H-2A-visa agricultural foreign guestworkers in Washington increased 35 percent last year, 15 percent in 2016 and 30 percent in 2015 as growers increasingly rely on it to meet labor shortages.

H-2A rule changes may come

- The best avenue to change the H-2A-visa foreign guestworker program may be administrative rules, a labor attorney and former Bush administration official says.

There’s still room for more cherries, promoter says

- A key leader in the Pacific Northwest cherry industry says there’s still room for more cherries despite a mismatch in supply and demand in 2017.

New immigration bill would create ‘chaos,’ ag leader says

- The leader of one agricultural association says a U.S. House bill aimed at immigration reform and a DACA fix would create chaos for farmers and workers. Other ag groups don’t comment.

Long crowned 2018 cherry king for work in NW industry

- A retired Oregon State University Extention specialist is honored for helping move the Pacific Northwest cherry industry into high-density orchards of smaller trees and other work.

Slide could block river, flood Yakima Valley farmland

- Officials say chances are remote, but an expected landslide near Union Gap, Wash., could block Interstate 82 and the Yakima River and flood thousands of acres of farmland.

Ag groups study new House immigration bill

- Agricultural groups have no comment as they study a new immigration bill offered by House Judiciary Chairman Robert Goodlatte and others that seeks to bolster border enforcement and solve DACA.

Workers take advantage of a perfect day for pruning

- Workers are busy from November through March hand pruning more than 300,000 acres of fruit trees in Central Washington. Sunny, warmer days make the job easier.

Apple prices stable despite drop in sales to China

- With less than one third of Washington’s large apple crop sold, prices show signs of stabilizing and maybe increasing but sales to China, a top export market, are down.

Packing line worker has an eye for bad apples

- Jane McElroy has been working on Wenatchee, Wash., tree fruit packing lines for 37 years, a record few match. She’s seen lots of changes and has a good eye for a puncture, a bruise, a split that causes her to yank th...

Seasonal farmworker housing goes up in Central Washington

- At least a year behind its original schedule, Washington Grower League seasonal farmworker housing is under construction in Mattawa and is to open in April.

Agriculture needs more than DACA, farm groups say

- As President Trump and congressional leaders wrestle over the budget and DACA, labor-intensive agriculture desires broader immigration reform.

Washington snowpack, reservoirs in fair shape

- Snowpack and mountain reservoir storage are relatively good in Washington. Oregon, southern Idaho and California are not doing as well.

Partially robotic apple picker envisioned

- A fourth robotic apple picker inventor to surface says his part-robotic, part-human picking system may be the best step in the next few years.

State’s largest custom wine bottling plant to open

- Ancient Lake Wine Company, part of Milbrandt Management, will open a new $6 million custom wine bottling plant in January.

Researchers focus on preventing listeria contamination

- Fear of Listeria contamination in Michigan apples underscores the need for continued research to prevent any such problems with Washington apples.

H-2A ag worker minimum wages hiked

- Minimum wages for H-2A-visa foreign agricultural workers go up 5.53 percent in Washington and Oregon at the start of the new year. They go up 4.85 percent in California while falling slightly in Idaho, Nevada and Arizona.

NW Horticultural Council hires two new staff members

- The trade organization Northwest Horticultural Council has filled two key staff vacancies to better represent the tree fruit industry in the national and international arenas.

Western Innovator: Engineering a robotic apple picker

- Frank Moore designed remote systems for handling fuel and radioactive material at nuclear power plants and has several other innovations to his credit. In retirement, he’s been developing a robotic apple pruner and p...

U.S. hops set acre, volume, value records

- U.S. hop growers — virtually all in Washington, Idaho and Oregon — hit new records that may not be peaks. Prices of some aroma varieties in oversupply may soften.