Agriculture

The Pulse Of The Palouse: Celebrating Lentils

Aug 18, 2016
National Lentil Festival

The lentil is more than a tiny legume to the people of the Palouse. The National Lentil Festival happens annually in Pullman to celebrate the once-major crop of the region.

 

The festival began in 1989 to promote tourism to the Palouse and promote locally grown pulses, mostly lentils. At that time the Palouse produced 98 percent of the U.S. lentils and gained the nickname “The Lentil Capital of the World.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Forty-two percent of America’s honey bees died in 2014. On average, beekeepers lose about 30 percent of their colonies annually – a number seen since 2006. As a trend, the numbers look even worse. In the 1940s there were 5 million managed honey bee colonies. Today, there are half as many.

Tony Schick / EarthFix

For decades, apple growers in Central Washington sprayed their trees with a misty brew of lead and arsenic to keep pests away. The practice stopped in the mid-20th century. Since then, many of those orchards have been redeveloped -- some as housing subdivisions, schools, and daycare centers. Even though the orchards are long gone, those toxic chemicals remain in the soil.

According to an industry trade group, sales of alternatives to modern wheat are growing at double-digit annual rates.

President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Tuesday hailed a pending trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The deal would span 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region including Canada and Mexico.

Linda Weiford / WSU News

Halloween is still a month and a half away, but pumpkins began turning orange in August. Chalk it up to Washington state’s hottest summer on record.

Idaho's so-called "ag-gag" law, which outlawed undercover investigations of farming operations, is no more. A judge in the federal District Court for Idaho decided Monday that it was unconstitutional, citing First Amendment protections for free speech.

But what about the handful of other states with similar laws on the books?

The Northwest’s mild winter and warm spring has been good for blueberries. And now Washington and Oregon are on-track to harvest record crops this year.

Oregon farmers could soon be more likely to use a mediator to help settle their disputes with neighboring farmers.

A drive across the Northwest quickly reveals things look really dry everywhere.

Spring planting season is coming early this year for a lot of home gardeners. And this year some Pacific Northwest nurseries are getting familiar with the flavors of the Caribbean.

You know the beautiful, mass-produced tomatoes you can buy at the grocery store? You can drop one and it'll bounce back unharmed, but doesn't taste like much.

Northwest asparagus fields are sprouting about 10 days earlier than usual this spring. It’s in time for Easter brunch, but a headache for farmers.

The region's recent stretch of warm weather means Northwest sweet cherries will likely be going early to market this year.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Washington state agriculture officials are preparing for the scenario that highly-contagious bird flu will be in the Northwest -- maybe for years.

Government agriculture officials will kill up to 5,000 ducks, geese, chickens, pheasants and turkeys due to a bird flu outbreak at a hunting operation Washington's Okanogan county.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

China is now on the list of countries that have shut down trade for U.S. poultry products after discoveries of avian flu in Washington and Oregon. Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state officials are testing flocks near the latest outbreaks in southeast Washington.

Get ready to shell out more money for eggs. Some Northwest stores are warning of higher egg prices as new regulations on hen houses take effect in California next month.

'They're All Perishable': Idaho Farm Products Languish At Ports

Dec 22, 2014

Farmers in Idaho say hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of beef, potatoes, apples, cheese and other products are languishing in storage because of problems at West Coast ports.

Clyde Robinson / Flickr

Northwest farmers and orchardists are among the potential beneficiaries if the U.S. and Cuba normalize their relationship and the trade embargo ends. They're better among many still trying to sort out what President Obama's announcement Wednesday of changes in Cuba policy mean for them.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

A slow down at Western ports is now aggravating farmers across the Northwest. Produce processors are laying off production line workers. Apples are backing up. And the summer’s premium hay is stacked in sheds not moving.

AP Images

    

Forest owners in the Northwest use helicopters to spray weed killer after logging. It is an effective way to kill plants like blackberry and alder that compete with the next crop of tree seedlings. But it is controversial.

Last year people near the coastal Oregon city of Gold Beach claimed they were poisoned. State officials and timber lobbyists blamed that incident on mistakes by the pilot. But sometimes, communities report drift even when timber companies appear to be following the rules.

jkbrooks85 / Flickr

A slowdown in operations at ports up and down the West Coast is choking off the flow of apples, Christmas trees, potatoes and other Northwest products to foreign markets. Exporters say the delays could have long-term consequences for Northwest agriculture if the problems aren’t resolved before the holidays.

In Washington, fruit shippers have reported sending refrigerated trucks full of apples from this year’s historic crop to the port of Seattle, only to have them sit there for days.

When It Comes To The Apple Club, Washington's A VIP

Nov 10, 2014
Dan Charles / NPR

Monday morning, NPR ran a story about the changing apple market - specifically, about "club" apples, exclusively-branded apples that only some groups are allowed to grow. You probably know a few of these club apples already. The Honeycrisp is the best-known. And more and more club apples are showing up in stores across the country: the Jazz, the Envy, the Ambrosia. These new apples could even some day push out traditional varieties like the Red Delicious.

How Cell Phones Are Shaking Up The Farm Labor Market

Nov 4, 2014
Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

When Eduardo Cruz awoke to the sounds of rain outside his home in Yakima on a recent morning, he didn’t have to wait long for a cell phone call from the orchard manager where he works picking apples, an hour away in Mattawa.

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

Grower Rob McCormick stoops to examine a knotty tree trunk in an apple orchard in Selah, Washington. “You see right here?” he says. “These had been Red Delicious. Then we cut this down to a stump and grafted in the Galas.” 

North Idaho Set To Begin Negotiations Over Water Rights

Aug 20, 2014
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The state of Idaho is preparing to establish water rights in the northern part of the state. It's a relatively water-abundant area, not prone to the sort of conflicts that have erupted elsewhere like Oregon's Klamath Basin. But as Jessica Robinson reports, the negotiations could have implications for flows across the border to Washington.

Sam Churchill / Flickr

Grain export companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union say they’ve reached a tentative labor agreement that could end a lockout at Portland and Vancouver ports.

Amy Ross / Flickr

Russian president Vladimir Putin's ban on food imports from the US could cost Northwest growers millions of dollars. But Russian imports are a thin slice of our region's multi-billion-dollar farm economy, as Rob Manning reports, from Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kay Ledbetter / Texas A and M AgriLife Extension Service

Northwest cattle ranchers are struggling to get their herds out of the way of raging wildfires. Some herds have been lost, others badly injured.

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