Agriculture

With lingering high unemployment and the endless talk of the down economy – it’s hard to believe that there are some industries putting help-wanted signs out by the dozens. But that’s the case in Northwest orchard country where there appears to be a dwindling supply of migrant workers for cherry picking. Cherry season started this past week, and as correspondent Anna King reports, farmers and shop-keeps alike are anxiously waiting for more workers to arrive.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / Northwest News Network

Barker Creek cuts through the semi-rural landscape of hobby farms and small towns on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. And like many small waterways in this region, Barker Creek has had problems with fecal coliform. Rain washes the bacteria from animal manure and leaky septic systems into nearby waterways.

In some watersheds, the contamination can get so bad that officials have to close shellfish beds and post signs warning people to stay away from the water. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports on one success story.

Since 1978, one eastern Washington county has out-produced all other wheat-growing counties in the U.S. But what to do with all the leftover straw? Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt explains a group of students at Washington State University has found a way to provide power from farmers’ scraps.

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

The Northwest cherry harvest is set to begin next week, but farmers are a bit glum. That’s because the National Weather Service says this month’s temperatures will be near or below average across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Cool weather and rain and can delay ripening and compress the cherry growing season. That means that markets have less time to sell the perishable fruit. Plus, farmers may have a harder time recruiting enough labor in a shortened season.

And there’s another problem according to the Washington Fruit Commission's B.J. Thurlby. He says rain can spoil the fruit on the branch.

A deadly virus that prompted salmon farmers in British Columbia to kill 560,000 fish has shown up for the first time in Washington. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Photo credit: Kim Keating / U.S. Geological Survey

Idaho state and federal officials are searching for whoever killed a female Grizzly bear and her cub. Grizzly bears are a federally protected Endangered Species.

The incident occurred north of the town of Bonners Ferry on Hall Mountain. The animals were discovered on Friday by a hiker.

Idaho Fish and Game Spokesman Phil Cooper says it’s not known if a hunter mistook the Griz for a black bear, shot it, and then noticed the cub, “and then approached the animal , saw it had a cub with it and panicked, or whether it went through their mind that this animal is going to starve, I’m going to shoot rather than let it starve, who knows”.

Boise Police Kill Cougar On Boise State Campus

May 22, 2012
Photo credit: Wikimedia user Mike Searson / Wikimedia Commons

Early Tuesday morning a Boise police officer shot and killed a mountain lion on the Boise State University campus.

Idaho Fish and Game Senior Conservation Officer Matt O’Connell says it’s likely the same cat that was first spotted in an east Boise foothills neighborhood Friday and seen several times Monday morning near downtown. O’Connell says police responded to calls from Boise State staffers who saw the lion eating from a dumpster near the student union building.

He says that’s unusual behavior for this species.

Cascadia Research

Scientists are still trying to pinpoint the cause of death for a young female orca that washed up near Long Beach, Washington in February.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report today with details from the whale’s necropsy.

Right now scientists still aren’t sure what caused the death of orca L112, also known as “Victoria”.

Northwest apple growers expect a bumper crop this year in combination with higher prices. But as correspondent Anna King reports, farmers are worried they won’t have enough workers to pick the apples at peak ripeness.

ODOT

Beginning Monday Oregon drivers can purchase a wine country license plate. The additional cost will benefit tourism marketing.

There are specialty license plates for salmon, Crater Lake, culture and other causes. Now Oregon is the first in the nation to offer one touting the state's wine industry.

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

Hay farmers in Eastern Washington are beginning to cut their fields. It’s the first harvest of the Northwest hay season. New numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show there’s less hay left over from last year. As Anna King reports, that’s good news for alfalfa and timothy growers.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / Northwest News Network

Honeybees have run into some trouble. Diseases, funguses and pesticides are just some of the factors scientists believe may be contributing to the decline of these insects nation-wide. But honeybees play a critical role in pollinating everything from the Washington apple crop to the flowers in your back yard. Ashley Ahearn reports on one booming business that’s bringing bees back to the urban environment. Care to borrow a bee?

Photo credit: Anna King / Northwest News Network

Washington asparagus farmers are plowing out giant fields during what should be the prime of their harvest season. That’s because there is a shortage of migrant farmworkers this year.

Rock Doc: Our Daily Bread In 2050

Apr 26, 2012
Washington State University

One of my habits in recent years has been studying climate history in my free time. What can I say; it keeps me out of bars.

Recently, I was startled to learn that the temperatures experienced by American wheat farms back in the 1830s were almost 7 degrees warmer than they now are.

Photo Credit: Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A new market survey finds many of the region's farmers in an optimistic mood because demand is strong and commodity prices are high. Exceptions to the overall trend include dairy and onion farmers.

Photo credit: lengmomo/ Flickr / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Northwest spring is getting off to a wet start. But Eastern Washington farmers report it appears to be right on schedule.

Photo credit: ODFW / Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon's shrimp season starts April 1st. No fooling. Officials say the latest technology is helping to prevent other critters from getting caught up in shrimpers' nets.

Photo Credit: TJBlackwell / Wikimedia commons

The mysterious disappearance of honey bees known as colony collapse disorder continues to be an issue for farmers across the country. As scientists study why this is happening, one Yakima area farmer thinks he may have a solution for at least one of the possible causes. Correspondent Anna King explains.

Photo credit: USFWS / USFWS

Bald eagles are no longer considered threatened by the state of Oregon. The state's Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Friday to remove the iconic bird from the state list of endangered species.

BOISE - Religions frequently struggle to find a balance between the spiritual and material world. To some people Heaven and Earth often seem at odds. Today, though, many faith-based organizations are finding that balance...in the garden. In this installment of Edible Idaho, correspondent Guy Hand looks at Northwest churches that believe good soil can nurture the human soul. 

Recently, Northwest Public Radio aired a profile about a family dairy as part of a series on the Northwest economy.It resulted in a flurry of comments from representatives of the dairy industry, and it spurred questions about the practices of pasteurization and homogenization. Mary Hawkins took the opportunity to speak with leading dairy expert, Stephanie Clark.Formerly with Washington State University, Dr. Clark is now an associate professor at Iowa State University, specializing in food science with a focus on dairy foods.

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