Agriculture

Pesticide Restriction
8:50 am
Wed December 3, 2014

How One Complaint Reveals The Flaws In Oregon’s Pesticide Regulation

Helicopters help spread weed killer after logging to effectively regrow trees, but people in Gold Beach, Oregon say they were poisoned by the pesticides.
Credit 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.

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Port Slowdown
5:31 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Northwest Apples, Hay And Potatoes Caught Up In Port Slowdown

A slowdown in operations at ports up and down the West Coast could have long-term consequences for Northwest agriculture if the problems aren’t resolved before the holidays.
Credit 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.

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Washington Apples
8:05 am
Mon November 10, 2014

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

Sydney Kuhn owns Kuhn Orchards in Cashtown, Pa. "We've actually had customers at market ask us about SweeTango," she says. "And we explain that it's a club variety, and we are not part of the club, so we cannot grow that apple."
Credit 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.

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Fruit Pickers and Cell Phones
7:06 am
Tue November 4, 2014

How Cell Phones Are Shaking Up The Farm Labor Market

At Seven Seas Farms in Outlook, Jose Ortega takes a call during his lunch break.
Credit 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.

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Northwest Agriculture
7:35 am
Wed October 8, 2014

As Red Delicious Declines, Growers Make Bets On The Next ‘Hit’ Apple

Rob McCormick picks a Red Delicious from a tree in his orchard.
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.” 

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Water Rights
6:35 am
Wed August 20, 2014

North Idaho Set To Begin Negotiations Over Water Rights

Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Credit 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.

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Grain Terminal Agreement
4:50 pm
Tue August 12, 2014

Tentative Agreement Announced In NW Grain Terminal Dispute

Since July, the United Grain terminal in Vancouver has only made a few shipments because Washington state grain inspectors stopped crossing a picket line set up at the port by the union.
Credit 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.

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Russia and Northwest Agriculture
7:32 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Russian Ban Unlikely To Hurt Northwest Growers Much

Credit 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.

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Wildfires and Cattle
7:11 am
Fri August 8, 2014

Northwest Cattle Ranchers Struggling With Wildfires

Cattle receiving fresh water and feed after being stressed by fire.
Credit 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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First Cut
6:52 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Where Does A Straitlaced Farmer Get Pot Growing Expertise?

Research farmer Alan Schreiber and research assistant Tom Balotte, of Ag Development Group, talk about an ongoing research project in the fields of the 105-acre farm north of Pasco, July 2, 2014. The two have applied for a marijuana growing license so they can become the go-to guys for pest and blight management for pot growers in the state.
Credit Anna King / Northwest News Network

In Eastern Washington, a pair of very different guys teamed up to embark on an experiment to grow Washington’s latest agricultural crop -- legal marijuana.

One of them, Alan Schreiber, is a straitlaced farmer. The other, Tom Balotte, is not a farmer. He's a video-gaming techie. He also doesn’t smoke weed.

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