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valley farmer Harvest Edition

A special supplement to the Daily Sun News and Sun News Shopper • October 2, 2012

2 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

Outlook family has big heart for small animals

by John Fannin

OUTLOOK – It’s understandable if visitors do a double-take when they first check our the Rocken K Miniatures farm on Arms Road near Outlook. After all, here you’ll find full-grown sheep smaller than the family dog. Herefords that like to snuggle. Kari and Roy Hardy own and operate Rocken K Miniatures, a labor of love three years in the making. What started out as cute pets on a self-sustaining family farm has become a full-fledged business for the couple. For example, their Old English Babydoll Southdown miniature sheep provide wool with a fiber that can mirror the quality of cashmere. It’s sold in bunches of yarn. Their Nigerian Dwarf Goats produce milk used in bar soaps Kari creates; soaps of such quality that she can’t keep them in stock. Or there are the Miniature Herefords, valuable as show animals and as prized beef. Altogether, the Hardy’s have about 70 animals, most of which are the miniature variety. Roy Hardy says this year is especially important for the family farm. “It’s our first productive year,” he says, noting the past three years have been dedicated to working the fouracre site and adding livestock. Things are looking positive, as the Hardy’s are seeing a demand for not only soap and yarn, but bigger ticket items such as selling some of their show-quality animals like the Miniature Herefords. Economically, Hardy says, raising mini Herefords instead of larger fullsized animals makes sense. He notes that three minis can graze on the same amount of land needed for just one regular-sized Hereford. That, in turn, results in more beef for the buck. “With a typical Hereford steer you John Fannin/Daily Sun News might get 700 or 750 lbs. of meat,” Hardy says. “We recently had three Ashtin Hardy holds one of her parents’ dwarf see “Small animals” next page goats at the family farm near Outlook.

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

Shadow is a full-grown Old English Babydoll Southdown ram, though his small stature requires owner Roy Hardy to kneel down for a visit.

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

Not all of the animals at Rocken K Miniatures are minis, some, like this young Scottish Highland with owner Roy Hardy, grow to be full-sized animals.

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october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition


“Steps to a Brighter Tomorrow”

Small animals continued from page 2

(minis) at market and got 1,440 lbs.” He adds, “You not only can raise more animals, but you get twice the amount of meat with Miniature Herefords.” On top of that, they produce a pretty good steak. “Customers have told us the meat is really good,” Hardy says. “It makes me feel good that the customer is getting a good product.” Rocken K Miniatures isn’t just about beef and marketing animals, though. In fact, the Hardy’s give their animals names like Moose ‘N Boots the fainting goat or Shadow the miniature ram. Further, the family gets so attached to some of the animals they won’t sell them. That’s not to say it’s easy for the Hardy’s to sell the others or take them to market. “It’s hard to let them go,” Kari smiled. “I guess we have a big heart for little animals.”

- John Fannin can be reached at or at 837-4500

Daily Sun News - 3


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John Fannin/Daily Sun News

The Hardys get attached to their animals and some – like Moose ‘N Boots the fainting goat nibbling on owner Kari Hardy’s nose – get attached to the couple.

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4 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

Tons of cherry seeds are prepared to be sold by Bailey Nursery.

Local nursery part of a much bigger organization by Laura Gjovaag

With a minimum order of 1,500 plants, not many people are going to be ordering plants for their front lawns from Bailey Nursery near Sunnyside. That doesn’t mean plants grown at the nursery won’t end up in local yards. Bailey Nursery sells to other nurseries, including some in the Yakima Valley. “We’re a wholesaler,” said manager Jeff Albrecht. “Our parent company is in St. Paul and actually owns six nurseries around the country that supply different plants for different areas.” That means that the nursery doesn’t make any direct sales. But they still tend to get phone calls from people who just look them up online or in the phone book. “I answer a few calls a day asking for single plants,” said Albrecht. But the nursery is looking at the bigger picture. The parent company uses nurseries in different locations to keep a wide variety of plants for all climates in stock. Bailey Nurseries, Inc. is a fourth-generation family-owned business and has been in existence for more than 100 years. The focus

in recent years has turned to breeding and has resulted in new varieties, including some grown in the Sunnyside location. The Sunnyside nursery supplies seeds, rootstock and cuttings in bulk, usually of varieties that handle the Sunnyside area well, including cherries. They don’t focus on growing the best fruit in their operations because most of the fruit itself will go to waste. Albrecht said the nursery has been working on ways to recycle the waste for other uses, but the operation is mostly focused on getting seeds and other sellable stock. However, the quality of the fruit they grow is still extremely high. The company specializes in good breeds, both popular and simply very high quality. The Sunnyside operation sends out 15 million plants per year. They send out seeds, cuttings, budwood and bare root in bundles of five or 10. “We don’t know where these plants will end up,” he said. “They might sell in New York state, in Canada. We send plants to Europe.”

‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

A tree shaker handles a cherry tree on its second harvest. For this older shaker, tarps are spread below the tree to catch the cherries that fall when the tree is vibrated. A newer shaker in the orchard has a built-in apron that catches the cherries.

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valley farmer - harvest edition

Daily Sun News - 5

Study prompts closer look at pesticide safety A new look at the effects a common farm pesticide has on children has stepped up calls by some for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to further restrict, or even ban, its use. The farm insecticide chlorpyrifos is in wide use on Washington farms and feedlots, and it’s on the hot seat again, due to a new study from Columbia University that says the chemical appears to affect boys’ brain development more than that of girls. Chlorypyrifos is a chemical sprayed on fruit trees and a wide variety of crops; it is also used on feedlots for insect control. The latest of many safety studies followed the same children from birth to age 7. It found that boys exposed to the chemical had lower memory scores than girls, a key risk for a lower IQ. That finding doesn’t surprise Emily Marquez, Ph.D., a staff scientist for the Pesticide Action Network. “It causes problems in brain development, so that’s why we’re concerned about children, in particular, being exposed to chlorpyrifos. Also, it acts at doses that are much lower, and causes these problems with brain development in animal models.” Manufacturer Dow AgroChemical says chlorpyrifos has been “widely used and extensively studied for decades,” and is registered for use in more than 100 countries and prevents major crop losses by controlling pests. The EPA phased chlorpyrifos out of indoor and home use beginning in 2000, but

photo courtesy Ron Nichols/Natural Resources Conservation Service

The results of a recent study have some calling for controls on the application of chlorypyrifos, a farm insecticide with applications ranging from fruit trees to feedlots. concerned watchdog groups have been asking for a full ban since 2007. Last month, the EPA revised its standards for spray drift. Now, when farmers apply chlorpyrifos, the spray can only contain two pounds of active ingredient per acre, down from six pounds. For all crops except citrus fruits, the standard was already two pounds or less, but Marquez says the move is encouraging. “That is a good thing, that they’re consid-



ering bystanders in their policy, as people who are also impacted by pesticide drift,” Marquez said. “Children are definitely among those in that group.” The EPA says farm workers can limit their exposure with personal protective equipment, including double layers of clothing when mixing or loading sprayers. The agency is set to re-evaluate chlorpyrifos in 2015. Challengers are asking that it be done sooner.

Farm safety group earns support of agricultural industry URBANDALE, Iowa – Farm Safety 4 Just Kids recently received a generous contribution from Cargill, an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Farm Safety 4 Just Kids was created in 1987 by Marilyn Adams after the death of her 11-year-old son in a gravity flow grain wagon. The organization raises awareness about the health and safety hazards that are an inherent part of the rural environment in which children live, work and play. “Cargill’s generous donation supporting Farm Safety 4 Just Kids demonstrates their dedication to helping their customers succeed and ensures our organization will be able to continue keeping our rural youth safe,” said Dave Schweitz, executive director of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids. In addition to Cargill, the Nationwide Insurance Foundation, GROWMARK, Successful Farming magazine and Monsanto have all recently committed or reaffirmed support for the organization. In early August, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers also awarded the Farm Safety 4 Just Kids “Chemicals in Rural Areas” educational packet a blue ribbon in their Educational Aids Competition. The Educational Aids Competition is designed to recognize the materials that contribute to the understanding of bioSee “Safety” page 7


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6 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

Prosser research center aids biofuel development by Nella Letizia

PROSSER - The WSU Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems in Prosser will team up with University of Hawai’i at Mānoa and others to modify existing sugarcane harvesting techniques and systems to handle tropical grass crops for biofuel. The work is part of UH-Mānoa’s four-year, $6 million project to help Hawaii increase its energy security by growing sustainable biofuel feedstocks. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. WSU’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems will lead the mechanical harvest systems component, funded at $709,000. WSU expands biofuel research role “Participating in this project will further reinforce WSU’s strong competence in biofuel research,” said Qin Zhang, the WSU center’s director. “By filling the gap in engineering solutions for feedstock production, we’re helping to make WSU one of the leading institutes in biofuel research in the world.” According to UH-Mānoa, the project will examine the use of fastgrowing tropical grasses such as bana grass, sweet sorghum, energy cane (a relative of sugarcane) and Napier grass-pearl millet crosses for biofuel production. Researchers also will assess the sustainability of renewable-energy production in Hawaii, which uses imported fossil fuels to meet more than 90 percent of its energy requirements. Highest energy cost in nation Despite almost nonexistent heating needs, Hawaii has the nation’s highest energy costs. The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Department of Energy’s statistical and analytical agency, notes that per capita energy consumption in Hawaii is among the lowest in the nation. But the transportation sector leads energy demand in Hawaii, accounting for more than half of the state’s total energy consumption. This is due in large part to heavy jet-fuel use by military installations and commercial airlines. Improving harvesting systems Zhang and his WSU team will evaluate sugarcane harvesters in the first two years of the project, looking at the efficiencies of different operating speeds compared to the growth stages of tropical grass crops, as well as the effect of varying terrain on the harvesters. Performance measures will include material flow efficiency, harvest speed, exclusion of dirt and mud, crop loss, machine productivity and energy consumption, and how much land is required for effectively turn-

  photo courtesy WSU

Sugarcane harvesters such as this one, owned by Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co., will be part of a project by University of Hawai’i at Mānoa to modify the harvesters for handling tropical grass crops as biofuel. WSU’s Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems in Prosser will lead the project’s mechanical harvest systems work.



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ing the machine around at the end of a field. During the third and fourth years, Zhang and the WSU researchers will improve the harvesters to accommodate differences between sugarcane and tropical grass crops, modifying the cutting mechanism as needed. They will also study whether rock detection sensors will be necessary on the harvesters to minimize damage to cutters. Lab testing in Prosser Cutting mechanism development and lab testing will take place at WSU’s center in Prosser, with final field tests planned in Hawaii sugar cane fields. Zhang and the team at Prosser will investigate how the harvesters operate when used for one or multiple passes and seasonally versus year-round. They will also determine how well the modified harvesters work for cutting, chopping, shredding, conveying and baling tropical grass crops. “The long-term goal is to search for sustainable and cost-effective processes and to develop effective and efficient equipment for harvesting and collecting biofuel feedstock from the field,” Zhang said. - Nella Letizia is with WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences


continued from page 5

logical and agricultural engineering subjects, with an emphasis on how well the needs of the intended audience are met. The competition encourages organizations and extension offices to strive for excellence through the interchange of ideas on successful methods and techniques. “The organization puts a lot of emphasis on creating strong educational materials,” said Shari Burgus, educational director at Farm Safety 4 Just Kids. “We really strive to produce high quality materials that focus on teaching youth of various ages in several different ways.” The objectives of Farm Safety 4 Just Kids include increasing public awareness and understanding of the hazards to children on the farm, providing individuals, families and communities with educational opportunities and resources to make the farm a safe and healthy environment, and motivating and empowering individuals, farm families and communities to make positive changes regarding farm safety and health issues. Farm Safety 4 Just Kids is a nonprofit organization based in Iowa, which serves the United States and Canada. Farm Safety 4 Just Kids provides resources and training to individuals and communities to conduct farm safety awareness and education programs. For more information visit

valley farmer - harvest edition

Daily Sun News - 7

Farmers Equipment in Sunnyside to display hand-painted tractor Farmers Equipment in Sunnyside will in the coming months have on display a hand-painted Case IH tractor to celebrate the 25th company’s Magnum tractor. There are only about 100 of these hand-painted special edition Magnum tractors being built, and Farmers Equipment is the only Case IH dealer in the Northwest to get one of these special tractors.  When the tractor arrives here, it will be available not only for inspection but it can be tried out at field events later this fall. The introduction of the Case IH Magnum tractor in 1987 marked a major milestone. The 1988 model year Magnum tractor was the first designed and produced after the birth of Case IH – the result of J.I. Case and International Harvester coming together. Since then, Case IH Magnum Series tractors have delivered producer-driven, proven technology that’s helped producers Be Ready for 25 years. “The Magnum Series tractor has set the industry standard as the most powerful and productive row-crop tractor,” says Dan Klein, Case IH Marketing Manager for Magnum tractors. “These tractors introduced the red paint that photo courtesy Case IH has become the signature of the Case Case IH will produce a limited number of silver Magnum 340 Powershift tractors to celIH brand.” ebrate its 25th anniversary.


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8 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

Local crops sustain damages, USDA offers a helping hand by Amber Schlenker

An upsetting amount of rain and hail poured through the Sunnyside area this past July, leaving many to foot the bill for damage done to their property. What was more devastating to this agriculturally minded community, however, was the damage done to local crops. Sunnyside farmer Rick Herndon, who grows Concord grapes, wheat, silage corn and alfalfa hay just a few miles north of Sunnyside, says there was significant damage done to his crops. The Herndon farm was insured for fire and hail damage done to their wheat crop. Herndon says their insurance adjuster determined the wheat crop sustained a 31 percent loss. “It was looking like it was going to be a good year for farmers, too,” Herndon said. But the sad truth is farmers and ranchers throughout the nation are dealing with this same issue. Nationwide, apples have been highly affected due to inclement weather. Despite the hail storm that left bumps in the road, Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association Chairman Jon DeVaney says a record number of apples may be packed and shipped in 2012. The association released an initial estimate in early August showing more than 108 million boxes will be packed this season. The county’s apple growers have 2010’s crop to measure up to, when more than 109 million boxes of apples were packed. DeVaney says this year’s crop is on track to break the 2010 record high, but definite numbers won’t be in until after the

Daily Sun News file photo

Pictured here are examples of what July’s hailstorm did to apples and grapes in the Lower Valley. harvest is complete. “That’s a good thing too, because of the national apple crop being down, the demand is high and the market is good for apples,” he added. ‑ Amber Schlenker can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News

This cow waits in the holding pen for her turn to be milked.

Cattle at the Granger dairy farm graze in an open field.

Granger dairy farm offers organic raw milk by Amber Schlenker

GRANGER – This past spring’s theme for the Tilth Producers Farm Walk was all things organic. Organic can only begin to describe Granger’s Pride and Joy Dairy farm. Allen and Cheryl Voortman started the Granger farm in 1978. For the couple and their two children, the farm has been a life-long adventure, learning about the land, cows, milk, and the health of all living things. Mr. Voortman says when

the two began the farm they did it the “traditional” way. “We did things the way we were ‘supposed’ to,” he said. Nearly 10 years later, Voortman read an article about grazing livestock. With that issue, he was sold, and became a seed dealer, helping other farmers put together grass programs for their farms. Cows at Pride and Joy Dairy graze using the intensive grazing management system. The herd is moved to a new luscious strip of pasture after every milking.

Voortman says this system gets the cows to go where he wants them to, by making them think that’s where they’d like to go next. After figuring out the grazing management system, Voortman says it was a natural progression to “weed” out the kinks and they happened upon researching organic farming. Voortman says after moving toward organic grasses, he began to see an increase in the herd’s health and longevity. “We got rid of the three

main parasites on the farm; the banker, the veterinarian and the nutritionist,” he said. In 2004 the Pride and Joy Dairy farm and its cattle became certified organic. Voortman says even though these grass-fed cows give less milk per head, the milk quality is extremely improved. He says the flavor of their organic milk is “creamy and sweet.” The milk sold from the farm’s store is considered raw, which means it’s not pasteurized or homogenized. It took the Voortmans near-

Amber Schlenker/ Daily Sun News

Pride and Joy Dairy farmer Allen Voortman speaks to a tour group about the history of his organic raw-milk farm.

Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News

A group of tourists get set for a hayride tour of the Pride and Joy Dairy farm in Granger.

Cheryl Voortman and this Border Collie pup listen as visitors to the Pride and Joy Dairy Farm introduce themselves.

ly two years to complete all requirements mandated by state officials to receive a license to sell raw milk. The license was acquired in February 2009. In addition, the farm undergoes Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News monthly inspections to Pictured here are hoses hooked ensure it is keeping up up to the cows for milking at the with the health requireGranger organic raw milk operments. The Dairy Herd ation. I m p r o v e m e n t Association is hired to check used for guests wanting that each individual cow once a experience. With three bedmonth, besides running sam- rooms, couch and living ples of milk into the local lab room the home can sleep six to eight people. Guests of the for testing. In addition, the Voortmans farmhouse are provided with also offer a real-life experi- meat, milk and eggs fresh ence for city-slickers wanting from the farm. For more information on to experience the farm life. Next to their home on the the farm, visit www.prideanfarm is a farmhouse that is

october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 11

Yakima County is the largest county in Washington State for the number of farms (3,730), acres farmed (1.7 million) and ranks second for market value of production from agriculture sales ($850,000,000)

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ark Twain once observed that in the west “Whiskey’s fer drinkin’. Water’s fer fightin’.” While here in the Yakima Valley it may be more appropriate to say that milk is for drinking, water is definitely the source of great controversy and consternation. In the early 1970s, the water problem for the City of Sunnyside was treatment of wastewater. In order to alleviate capacity problems at the city’s wastewater treatment plant, the Port of Sunnyside built its Industrial Wastewater Treatment Facility. Routing wastewater from area’s food processing industries to the Port’s facility, rather than to the city’s municipal treatment plant, allowed the city to continue its population growth without having to add costly additional wastewater treatment capacity. In keeping with Sunnyside’s agricultural heritage, the Port of Sunnyside land applies treated

Arnold Lee Martin President

industrial wastewater. Treatment of the wastewater discharged from the Sunnyside food processing industries begin in a series of aerated lagoons. Air is supplied to the water in these lagoons. This air aids microbes in the water to use contaminates as food. After flowing through the aerated lagoons, the water is stored in a forty-acre storage lagoon until it is sprinkled on alfalfa. The treatment of the water is completed by the soil/ plant system, with most of the water being taken up by the vegetation. The Port of Sunnyside will continue to seek ways to attract new industry to the community, as well as to provide opportunities for expansion of our existing industries. As it considers options for furnishing additional low cost industrial wastewater treatment capacity, it will explore methods using the wastewater it receives to address other water issues the Lower Yakima Valley faces.

Jim Grubenhoff Vice President

Jeff Matson Secretary

We would like to extend our gratitude to both the farmers and industries in our area for helping our community prosper.

The harvest is then cut and sold to local daries and beef cattle ranches. This process is referred to as “cradle to grave recycling.”

The Port of Sunnyside operates a state-of-the-art, ecologically sound, Industrial Waste Water Treatment Facility (IWWTF) permitted by the Washington State Department of Ecology. The Port serves 11 food or food related industries, a steel fabricator and one pipe manufacturing plant. The Facility is located on approximately 550 acres including 3 treatment lagoons and 400 acres of sprayfields. In 2011, the Port received 43.5 million cubic feet of water discharged from the industries. The 2011 breakdown is as follows: Darigold 63.3%, Valley Processing 11.7%, Independent Foods 13.5%. The balance of our influent, 11.5% came from Centennial Tank, DRR Fruit, Johnson Cannery, Johnson Foods, LTI/Milky Way, and Yakima Chief.

520 S. 7th St.

P.O. Box 329 • Sunnyside, WA 98944

Phone (509) 839-7678 • FAX (509) 839-7462 Tours of the facility and sites may be arranged for interested parties by calling 839-7678

12 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

Researchers look at ways to help mint farmers reduce weeds, water use by Jennie McGhan

PROSSER – Researchers at the Washington State University Research and Extension office near Prosser have been looking at ways to assist mint farmers with two areas of concern. According to Rick Boydston of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who has worked with the researchers in Prosser, there are two trials underway for the control of catchweed bedstraw and rattail fescue. These weeds are known to grow relatively easy in mint fields. Rattail fescue is an annual grass weed that can germinate and emerge throughout the growing season. One trial was established north of Sunnyside on a native spearmint field that was infested with the weed. Researchers applied treatments in September 2011 just after the second harvest and before irrigation for the third harvest could be applied. “Sinbar appears to be the best application,” Boydston said at a mint field day held late last spring.

He told mint producers there were two split applications of the herbicide that resulted in positive results. Pyroxasulfone also had positive results, although it is not yet labeled for mint. Another trial involved the application of treatments for catchweed bedstraw. “In November (2011) we treated fields with Spartan,

Chateau and Goal,” said Boydston. Catchweed bedstraw is a broadleaf weed that germinates and emerges at various times throughout the year. The treatment with Spartan was combined with Aim in the fall with an added treatment with Aim in the spring, which resulted in 100 percent control of

the weed. Chateau was combined with Gramoxone in the fall for 96 percent control of catchweed bedstraw. An added treatment of Aim brought the control to 100 percent. Goal combined with Gramoxone in the fall resulted in 97 percent control, while 98 percent control

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Several trials for mint are underway at the Washington State University Research and Extension office near Prosser. Researchers are currently investigating how to best control weeds and conserve water. was attained by adding a treatment of Aim to the mint fields in the spring. Sinbar and Pyroxasulfone were also added to the list of treatments, mixing the herbicides with Gramoxone in the fall. The results were more favorable when Aim was applied to the mint in the spring. Boydston noted the Aim applications, however, are not yet available to grow-

Max Amundson of Sunnyside’s Callison & Sons and his colleague, Gene Schmitt, examine mint grown using less water near Prosser. The water is applied to the plants using drip emitters. ers because it is not labeled for mint. The application of that herbicide must also be made when fields are dormant. The results are telling, according to Boydston. He said the most favorable results were achieved when the mint fields received a fall treatment and a spring treatment. Those attending the field day exercises were also pro-

vided an opportunity to see how mint crops respond to water deficit trials. Water deficit irrigation research first began at the research center approximately four years ago. Researcher Doug Walsh said a tipping point has been established and the research student who founded the trial discovered it is better to induce stress before see “Researchers” next page

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Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Mint growers, field consultants and processors gathered this past June to learn about research being conducted at the Washington State University Research and Extension office near Prosser. Here, a group evaluates the effectiveness of herbicides on weeds.

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october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 13

photo courtesy of Organix

Here, Organix employees install the new company-invented anaerobic digester system at the plant. The system is part of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

photo courtesy of Organi

The compost turner is one of the essential duties of Organix, a Walla Walla based compost producer.

Compost company seeks Lower Valley dairy partners day’s work at Organix. The Walla Walla-based company was founded in early 2001 as a result of the challenges with managing a growing compost and yard debris recycling facility in a

by Amber Schlenker

WALLA WALLA – Taking naturally occurring nutrients and transforming them into products used every day is all in a

Researchers continued from page 12

cutting mint. By doing so, said Walsh, hay is reduced and oil yields remain consistent. He said there are four timings that were applied for inducing water stress and oil yields were not significantly improved in plants receiving more water than those that were deprived shortly before cutting. The research, said Walsh, does show that plants deprived before a cutting must be brought back to full field capacity before being subjected to deprivation again. “The hope (of the researchers) is that growers will use a water management program,” he said. To conduct the research, uniform drip emitters were used and Walsh recommends it for those who are seeking to conserve water. ‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

suburban area of Portland, Ore. Currently, Organix has processed more than 4 billion pounds of material across the Northwest and beyond, offering organic waste consulting, finished product sales, environmental impact resolution and public relations campaigns. A company owner, Russ Davis, says the business is looking for more partners in the Yakima Valley. With a rich dairy industry locally, Organix says they could benefit from partnering with local dairy farms.

Native spearmint grown with water deficit methods appears as healthy and strong as plants not subjected to deprivation.



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Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

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valley farmer - harvest edition

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october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 15

Yakima Valley ag by the numbers Yakima County contains one of the state’s most diverse – and productive ag economies. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture numbers published by WSU’s Yakima County extension, the county is number one in Washington based on market value of crop and livestock products.  Agriculture contributes a whopping $1.2 billion to the local economy, according to the USDA. Yakima County is the leading county in the nation in apple production with more than 55,000 acres of apple orchards producing premier apple varieties like Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious and Honeycrisp, as well as hundreds of antique apple varieties. Yakima County is also the leading county in the nation in the production of hops, ag officials note. There are nearly 19,000 acres of hops planted on 19 foot-high trellis systems. Within the state of Washington, Yakima County is the number one producer of sweet cherries (2,500 acres), plums/prunes (more

than 400 acres), nectarines (more than 600 acres), peaches (more than 1,000 acres) and of pears (8,400 acres).  Yakima County is also the perennial leader in the state in dairy, milk production, cheese production, cattle and calves, sheep and lamb production and meat goats.  The animal agricultural annual gate value is at $600 million, ag officials estimate. Irrigated pasture totals 140,000 acres, managed range  totals 2.2 million acres and approximately 40,000 people in the county own from two to 20 acres. Yakima County is the number one producer of melons in the state, including watermelon, cantaloupe and muskmelon.  USDA officials note there is a growing berry industry that includes blueberries and raspberries that are on display in local farmers markets and contribute to a fruit juice industry that ships worldwide.  Yakima County also has more than 19,000 acres of grapes, including juice grapes like Concord.  Premier grape varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Riesling and Chardonnay are grown

Ag exports set to rebound next year by John Maday

The year 2013 should be a record year for U.S. agricultural exports, including significant growth in beef exports, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) projections. Last week’s trade outlook report from USDA indicates U.S. 2012 ag exports, while strong, will fall somewhat short of those during 2011. Next year though, strengthening global economies will help fuel export growth for most U.S. agricultural products. In its Aug. 30, 2012 report, USDA increased its projection for fiscal 2012 exports by $2 billion from its last forecast in May. The August forecast of $136.5 billion would fall about $1 billion short of 2011’s record total. The agency reduced its estimate of 2012 U.S. imports of agricultural products by $1 billion to $106.6 billion from the $107.5 billion projected in May. This leaves a positive trade balance for fiscal 2012 of $30 billion, well short of the 2011 record trade surplus of $42.9 billion. Next year, USDA projects record highs for ag exports and imports, with exports reaching $143.5 billion, imports climbing to $117 billion and a trade surplus of $26.5 billion. The August report lowers projected beef and veal exports for fiscal 2012 to $4.8 billion, from $4.9 billion forecast in May. That’s still well ahead of the 2011 total of $4.5 billion. For fiscal 2013, the agency projects beef and veal exports at $5 billion on higher volumes and unit values. The re-

port projects export value for beef and pork variety meats at $1.5 billion this year and $1.4 billion in 2013, compared with $1.2 billion in 2011. The nation’s exports, estimated at $5.7 billion this year, will drop to $5.6 billion in 2013, according to the report, with both years well ahead of the $4.9 billion total for 2011. Globally, the report projects 2012 trade growth at 2.2 percent, modest compared with 6.6 percent last year. Global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, and U.S. GDP growth for 2012 also are at 2.2 percent.   Next year, the report projects global GDP to grow at a faster rate of 2.7 percent and U.S. GDP growth to improve to 2.4 percent. While the value of the dollar has strengthened relative to other currencies, and likely will appreciate more in 2013, the dollar remains relatively weak. Favorable exchange rates, coupled with low interest rates, lower energy prices and faster economic growth will boost trade next year, and the report projects world trade growth for fiscal 2013 at 4 to 5 percent. “The export forecast marks a historic achievement for America’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Even with tough odds due to extreme weather, U.S. agriculture is now poised for three consecutive years of record exports, smashing all previous records.” Vilsack noted the exports will support more than one million U.S. jobs. - John Maday is managing editor of Drovers CattleNetwork

here to feed a growing wine industry that has earned the Yakima Valley the designation as one of the American Viticultural ares found in Washington.  The Yakima Valley is home to the state’s

highest concentration of wineries. Yakima County is also the leading producer of squash (summer and winter) and peppers (bell and chile) in Washington and has more than 3,600 acres of sweet corn. 

Bringing more fresh fruits and vegetables to schools by Kathleen A. Merrigan

Locally grown fresh vegetables and fruits are sliced and ready for students at Hebron-Harmon Elementary School in Hanover, Md. The sign identifies the name of the local farm. In 1996, only two schools nationwide bought food directly from farmers in their region through what are called farm-toschool programs. Today, these programs exist in more than 2,000 U.S. schools – and a new pilot program in Michigan and Florida could send that number ticking quickly upward. Farm-to-school programs are a win-winwin for America’s farmers and ranchers, our students and our schools. Last year, members of USDA’s Farm-to-School team visited 15 schools across the country to check out their programs and were amazed by what they saw. By partnering with farms in their area, these and other schools across the nation have been able to increase the quantity of fresh, healthy and locally-grown food available to students. They are also supporting the community by buying from farmers who work local land and employ local residents. Teachers love farm-to-school arrangements too: in schools that implement them, local products and visits to farms have been incorporated into science, math

and health classes. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service is moving full speed ahead to take advantage of what was learned on the Farm-to-School team’s visits last year.  This fall, the agencies will launch a pilot program to help schools in Florida and Michigan purchase more produce from local farmers using some of their federal school meal funding.  USDA will solicit suppliers later this year and offer the list of suppliers to schools. Schools in Michigan and Florida will then be able to contract with local suppliers in 2012.  This pilot program will help schools take advantage of another recent USDA accomplishment. As directed by Congress, USDA issued new rules in April that allow schools to exercise what’s called “geographic preference” in the contracts they sign for school food procurement. For the first time, schools can specify a desire to purchase and serve food grown by farmers in their community. We’re seizing this opportunity to support America’s farmers and improve the health of our kids. Resources for schools in any state interested in Farm-to-School are available at - Kathleen A. Merrigan is the deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

16 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

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october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 17

Sunnyside fireman finds zeal in natural-production farming by Amber Schlenker

photo courtesy of Shawn Glasser

Flashover Farm owner Shawn Glasser poses with a large Highland bull at his Sunnyside natural production farm.

Sunnyside fireman Sean Glasser moonlights as a farmer. The motto at Flashover Farm is “let everybody be who they are supposed to be.” That is, concerning the animals on the farm. Glasser says the mission of Flashover Farms near Sunnyside is to let the animals grow and produce without hormones or growth stimulants. History Glasser started his farming venture before he ever moved to Sunnyside, about 15 years ago. Flashover Farm was started in 1996 on 10 acres on the outskirts of the small town of Rainier, Wa.  Then in 2008, he was hired on at the Sunnyside Fire Department. So he packed his bags and animals and headed to the Lower Valley. Glasser has since moved and made a new start in the Lower Yakima Valley in Sunnyside on 20 acres  of irrigated ground.  What has started out as a subsistence farm for Glasser has evolved into a smallscale natural-production farm.

Glasser and his wife have selected breeds of animals that have positive characteristics for ease of care and quality meat production. “It is our goal to produce high quality breeding and project animals as well as market animals for your freezer,” Glasser said. Cattle One animal that can be found on Glasser’s Sunnyside farm is Scottish Highland cattle. “People always ask me why I raise such funny looking cows,” he added. But for Glasser, there are several answers to that question. The first is he loves the look of them. After getting a few Highland cattle and learning more about the breed, Glasser was sold. He knew they were the best breed for him and his goals on the farm. Considered one of the oldest breeds, Highlands are a user friendly, hearty animal that with time produces some of the leanest natural meats available, according to Glasser. Highlands’ natural insulation keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer, they are slower growing than see “Zeal” next page

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18 - Daily Sun News

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october 2, 2012


continued from page 17

standard beef breeds and smaller in structure but it is these two things that make them a better beef animal, says Glasser. The benefits Highlands produce are seen when customers take their meat home. Glasser says the animals’ yield from hanging weight can be as high as 20 percent greater than other breeds. The natural leanness means that the carcass must be hung for 10 to 21 days in order to bring out the natural flavor of the meat and increase its tenderness. Glass says his herd is best compared to buffalo because of its color and texture. Longevity and ease are two of the Highlands’ greatest attributes. Calves average 40-60 lbs., making calving easy for even firsttime moms. Cows calving into their late teens and early twenties make them a benefit. They are naturally curious and have wonderful temperaments. “The fuzzy calves are a joy to watch from the time they hit the ground,” Glasser said.

photo courtesy of Shawn Glasser

Flashover Farm raises pigs for customers’ consumption. Offered are Duroc, Large White, Landrace and Berkshire sows. In addition, the farm also provides artificial insemination to obtain the breed of the customer’s choice.

photo courtesy of Shawn Glasser

Highlands’ natural insulation keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and at the Sunnyside area farm, they are slower growing than standard beef breeds and smaller in structure. Pigs If raising animals is just not your cup of tea, Flashover Farm will raise it for you. “We have selected females capable of producing heavy muscled, fast growing animals,” Glasser said. “We currently have Duroc, Large White, Landrace and Berkshire sows and have a Berkshire boar on the premises,” he added. The farm also uses artificial insemination to bring new genetics from top boars in the country. All pigs are fed a custom-grain diet that is locally made to meet the farm’s specifications. “We do not use hormones, antibiotics or steroids in our feed,” he added. In addition, all animals are regularly dewormed and vaccinated to ensure strong healthy animals. Sheep Nice goats, is the most given comment by visitors to the farm. Of course, Glasser’s response is those are sheep. “Hair sheep, yes I said hair sheep, are real and they are the perfect animal for lamb production,” Glasser said. “They have many valuable characteristics that the traditional wool sheep doesn’t.” The biggest difference, says Glasser, is that they shed their hair each spring much like a dog. It is considered an unusable fiber - too short and coarse to be spun, but makes great compost and yard litter. Other advantages to hair sheep are that the animals are resistant to parasites and foot rot. They also are able to breed twice a year, producing twins as the norm.

At Sunnyside’s Flashover Farm, Highland cattle are raised because of their small structure and the high quality meat they produce. photo courtesy of Shawn Glasser

Turkeys and eggs Each summer Flashover Farm raises a small number of turkeys for the holidays. When possible they house both the Bronze and White breeds. Birds are fed a commercialmedicated starter for two months from the time of purchase to promote a strong, healthy start. They are then switched to a non-medicated feed. Animals are harvested the week of Thanksgiving, giving customers the option of a non frozen bird. Glasser says the birds range in size from 15 to 30 plus pounds.

“If you have never had a fresh grain fed turkey you don’t know what you are missing,” Glasser said. “These birds are full of flavor and muscle.” Customers are urged, however, to contact the farm early if interested in Thanksgiving turkeys. For more information about Flashover Farm, visit ‑ Amber Schlenker can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

photo courtesy of Shawn Glasser

Here is a bottle-fed Highland heifer. She will become one of the breeders at Sunnyside’s Flashover Farm, as she matures.

Domestic, Irrigation & Community


october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 19

WSU earns top ice cream award by Bob Hoffman

PULLMAN - Save the champagne; Washington State University is celebrating with ice cream. Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe last month won the 2012 Progressive Dairyman Flavor Faceoff with its huckleberry ice cream. The competition allowed ice cream fans from across the nation to vote online for the top honor. Facing stiff competition from both commercial and university dairies nationwide, the huckleberry ice cream was nominated by Dale Moore, WSU Extension livestock veterinarian. In her nomination, Moore declared that “huckleberry represents the Northwest like no other flavor. The milk for Ferdinand’s Ice Cream comes from our very own campus dairy with some of the friendliest cows you’ll meet!” Reached by phone, Moore had just returned from visiting seven dairies in two days -- to make sure the cows were producing good milk for more ice cream. Learning of the win, she thanked all the Ferdinand’s fans for voting, with special gratitude to Dean Dan Bernardo of WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences for rallying the troops. Moore says the best way to enjoy the

huckleberry ice cream is in a “Grabber,” which features a large scoop of ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies. What is the secret to Ferdinand’s ice cream? “The love that our students put into it,” said WSU Creamery Manager Russ Salvadalena. The creamery employs 25 students in production, and up to 70 students per year, including those in the retail storefront, direct marketing and seasonal help. The operation makes 16 flavors of ice cream year round as well as four or five seasonal flavors. Huckleberry debuted as a seasonal flavor Sept. 24, 2008, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the opening of Ferdinand’s on the Pullman campus. The flavor soon became a favorite and graduated to year-round production. Huckleberry was the fourth-most popular flavor in 2011, with production of 500 threegallon containers. Salvadalena noted that they will have to crank out even more of the flavor, because the Flavor Faceoff award caught the creamery flat-footed and sold out of huckleberry ice cream.

Thank You Veldhuis Family Mark Koreski and his crew have enjoyed working with you and have appreciated the opportunity to play a part in the construction of your new dairy parlor. We look forward to November when your state-of-the-art facility is up and running.

- Bob Hoffmann is with WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

Agricultural regulations in place to safeguard food by Jennie McGhan

On the surface there are a few regulations farmers must follow that seem a little silly. However, the rules have been developed to ensure the food on the consumers’ tables is safe to eat. Chuck Dragoo is the acting district manager for the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and he said, “These requirements are standard throughout the food safety world.” He said the WSDA developed a program commonly known as GAP (Good Agricultural Practices). That program, said Jason Kelly, WSDA communications director, involves voluntary audits for growers. “Many buyers require GAP certification because these practices reduce the risk of microbial contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as provide tools to trace products through the supply chain,” he said. Dragoo concurred, stating the practice of allowing farm workers to eat meals in orchards is an example of a GAP audit program regulation. “Almost all audits will not allow eating in the orchards or have restrictions or require a control method for wild or domestic animals to be in the orchards,” he said.

Ricardo Guillen picks Rainier cherries in a Grandview-area orchard. He and his fellow cherry pickers this past summer were subjected to new regulations resulting from the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

No eating in orchards Although it may seem eating in an orchard is rather harmless, there are restrictions on doing so because workers picking the fruit must wash their hands prior to returning to work. “They (growers) cannot control this process if they allow eating in the orchards,” said Dragoo. Foodborne pathogens can be transferred from the hands to the produce, providing the potential of infecting consumers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 48 million people (onein-six Americans) get sick each year as a result of foodborne pathogens. Approximately 128,000 people are hospitalized each year and about 3,000 die from an illness that was foodborne. “Animal manure and human fecal matter represent a significant source of human pathogens. A particularly dangerous pathogen, Escherichia Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News coli (E-coli), is known to Farm workers must wash their hands originate primarily from ruwith soap and water before returning to minants,” according to the work just like anyone working in the food Department of Agriculture. industry.

Humans can carry Salmonella, Cryptosporidium and other pathogens. Any one of these pathogens can be transferred to produce unwittingly if proper hygiene protocols are not followed. “Also, most audits will not allow food or beverages around un-harvested products,” said Dragoo. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says, “Past outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with fresh and minimally processed produce have usually been the result of produce becoming contaminated.” USDA officials state infectious diseases can be transferred unwittingly because workers can transmit foodborne illness if they do not understand and follow basic hygienic principles, especially if they are carrying an illness. “For example, in 1994, there was a community hepatitis A outbreak in New York among individuals who had consumed bakery foods. The source of the infection was a baker who contaminated baked goods while applying sugar glaze,” an official reported. The USDA advises all growers to train employees to follow good hygienic practices. No dogs allowed Animals, whether domesticated or not, are prohibited from orchards

Because of the new GAP requirements growers have been ordering wash stations to accompany the temporary restroom facilities. One local orchardist said it is a way to ensure the workers take the same precautions any food service worker is required to take. What it means for growers According to Hector Castro of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, some of the new regulations came about as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act, approved by federal lawmakers last year. He said rules and regulations are established for the safety of everyone, from the workforce to the tables of consumers. Those working in the fields and orchards have other safety protocols

As a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, growers must make available to farm laborers hand washing stations to prevent the spread of foodborne pathogens.

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

and crops whenever possible. There are control methods set up for domesticated and wild animals in orchards. However, it is best to keep any animals out of crops because of potential fecal contamination, according to Dragoo. Untreated, improperly treated or re-contaminated manure or biosolids can enter the surface or ground water. Fecal material may contain pathogens that can cause public health concerns, according to the USDA. Those pathogens can survive in the soil and contaminate a crop, especially low-growing crops. “Growers must be alert to the presence of human or animal fecal matter that may be unwittingly introduced into the produce growing and handling environments,” say USDA officials. Wash your hands The best way to prevent pathogens from being transferred to produce is to wash one’s hands.

in place to protect them, as well. Castro said one of the more recent regulations enacted was to prevent heat stress, exhaustion or heat stroke. The Outdoor Heat Exposure Rule is a state law that applies between May 1 and Sept. 30 because those working in the fields can be overcome by heat if not properly hydrated. Heat stress can be dangerous both short-term and long-term. Workers can become dizzy, fatigued, confused or disoriented. That can result in a serious accident. On a long-term basis a person may be overcome by heat more easily. More extreme cases of outdoor heat exposure can lead to death. Officials say many of the regulations impacting farmers are in place to focus on “risk reduction, using scientifically based principles.” ‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 21

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Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Tony Ramirez, and his wife, Macaria (not pictured), started Sure Harvest nearly 25 years ago from their home. The business connects farmers with laborers throughout the agricultural seasons.

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GRANDVIEW – Sure Harvest is one of two offices located at 50 Bethany Road in Grandview that helps farmers and laborers, connecting them when jobs are available. The business is operated by Tony and Macaria Ramirez, who have for nearly a quarter of a century been helping farmers get local crops in the ground and harvested by screening potential workers. “We are a go-between,” said Ramirez. “I saw some farmers and workers needed help and I can bring farmers together with workers,” he said. The couple for most of the past 25 years operated their farm labor contract service from home, but about three years ago found the location on Bethany Road would help them expand and provide a better office environment that is easy to find for clients. Vicki Kissler, the bookkeeper for Sure Harvest, said Ramirez doesn’t just handle the paperwork for the farmer and the workers. “He manages crews,” she explained, stating the purpose of Ramirez’s involvement extends beyond his office. Kissler said Ramirez believes in handson involvement because he believes in providing the best service possible for everyone. Ramirez said, “It’s giving the farmers and workers a place to turn…employees don’t have to go farm to farm and farmers don’t have to search for reliable workers.” Kissler said the employees are paid by Sure Harvest, which also completes all the paperwork necessary for the employees. “We complete the I-9’s and all legal papers, as well as conduct safety meetings to ease the burden on the farmers,” she said. A lot of the employees hired by Sure Harvest are repeat workers, mostly from

California. New employees are typically referred to the company by those who have worked for Sure Harvest, the farmers served by the company or by WorkSource. “It saves the employees time, and it saves farmers the effort of finding workers,” said Kissler, stating some employees work from crop to crop because the company provides laborers from early spring during asparagus season to late fall when the grapes come off the vines. Unless there is pruning work to be completed the Bethany Road office is typically closed during the winter months. Kissler said there are occasions when a farmer needs an employee for a specific purpose. When such an occasion arises, the farmer can call Ramirez on his cell phone and he can comb through employee files to find a worker living in the area that meets the criteria specified. “Our busiest time is cherry harvest,” said Kissler, stating the company can employ as many as 350 people during the early summer months. “We stay pretty busy, helping local farmers get their crops harvested,” she said of the steady stream of business. Ramirez said, “I just want to help everyone.”

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valley farmer - harvest edition

WSU food research team brings home national honors by Linda Weiford, WSU News

PULLMAN – Nailing down first place honors in a national mango competition, food science students from Washington State University and the University of Idaho now have a ripe business opportunity for people in Kenya, Pakistan and other under-developed nations where the fruit flourishes in abundance. The collaborative food science team in June won the annual national Institute of Food Technology competition, held in Las Vegas, Nev. The competition, titled “Developing Solutions for Developing Countries,” focused this year on mangoes and was designed to promote the application of food science and technology and the development of new products and processes that are targeted at improving the quality of life for people in developing countries. Now, as they bask in the mango moment for their win, part of their competition proposal is being considered for application in under-developed countries.  The eight-member WSU/UI team’s winning creation is a deep-fried pastry filled with chopped mangoes named Mango Maandazi. And if their idea catches on, the packaged, ready-to-make-mix may sell, um, like hotcakes. Thinking beyond the product The student winners – five from WSU and three from UI – are members of the universities’ Food Science Club. Among them is Rossana Villa-Rojas, a Ph.D. student in biosystems engineering who came to WSU from Mexico a year ago. “Back home, mangoes grow everywhere on trees, and I ate them all the time. Then I come here where they don’t grow, but I end up with a team of students that wins a national competition for how we used them in a new product. I am so impressed,” she said. As were the judges, selecting the WSU/UI team above finalists from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Virginia Polytechnic Institute. “I loved how the students thought beyond the product itself,” explained General

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valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 23

Food research team continued from page 22

Mills senior scientist Tom Nacks from his office in Minneapolis, “And how they figured out small scale production options that are economically feasible and would generate income for poverty stricken rural villages in Kenya,” he said. An African twist To understand the fuss over a product derived from a fruit so juicy that it’s often eaten over a kitchen sink, consider the mission issued by the Institute of Food Technology: to create a mango-based food product for the people of Kenya that addresses deficiencies in their nutrition. Mangoes, with flesh as yellow-orange and smooth as sherbet, grow abundantly in Kenya. But half of them rot because of poor roads to transport them, a lack of cold storage facilities and a short growing season, the students learned from their research. “We knew we’d have to create a product that was nutritional and tasted good, and most challenging of all, could be prepared rapidly,” said team leader Jesse Zuehlke, a WSU student earning his doctorate degree in food science. Also in their research, students discovered maandazi: a triangular, fried dough so popular in Kenya that it’s almost a national institution -- similar to the scone in England. “Not only do Kenyans eat maandazi with tea, but throughout the day as a snack and with their meal at supper,” said Zuehlke. “Sometimes it is their meal.” With the team’s newfound knowledge, “We thought, ‘Why not stuff maandazi with mangoes’?’” said Villa-Rojas, who, as the group’s sole engineering student, played trouble-shooter as members brainstormed to merge Kenya’s beloved maandazi with its glut of mangoes. “Someone would fire off an idea, and I’d point out potential problems,” she said. Dehydration creates solution and jobs The biggest problem was how to keep the highly perishable mangoes from rotting. The students

proposed that regional processing centers be set up in Kenya where workers clean and cut the mangoes into slices and bits, and then dehydrate them using solarpowered dryers. Not only does dehydrating prolong the mangoes’ shelf life, but they still taste good and maintain their nutrient value, said Zuehlke. What’s more, with mango farmers bringing in more revenue and the regional processing centers workers getting paid, “This would create a potential boon to rural communities,” he said. And so, the students created Mango Maandazi, a packaged whole wheat and enriched flour mixture loaded with dried mango bits and spiced with cardamom that customers buy in stores. To prepare, just add water, similar to what Americans do with Jiffy Cake Mix. Then, do a little kneading, slice into scone-like shapes and fry in cooking oil. When eaten, the dried mango bits paired with the cardamom make these fluffy parcels taste at once citrusy and savory. Make the idea fly After agricultural food scientist Gleyn Bledsoe heard the students’ presentation in Las Vegas, he approached them about using their winning idea in Pakistan where mangoes are the national fruit. Bledsoe, a UI adjunct professor, works in that country with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. He is especially interested in the group’s simple and inexpensive method of drying the sliced mangoes with solar-run fans at regional centers, he said, where workers would package and distribute them to wholesalers and retailers. “I’m working on the project now, and I believe we will get it funded for application in Pakistan and other countries where mangoes are an important crop,” said Bledsoe by email from Pakistan, where, among other things, he is promoting food business development with WSU’s Barbara Rasco, professor of food science and human nutrition. In the meantime, the

WSU/UI group hopes the entire Mango Maandazi Project takes hold in Kenya, as government agencies look for ways to increase the fruit’s value and improve the livelihood of its people, said Zuehlke. And for those who cherish bright-tasting mangoes, it offers a low-cost way to reincarnate them, long after they’re in season.

photo courtesy Angela Lenssen/WSU

Mango Maandazi — citrusy and savory, offering vitamins A and C, calcium and iron – is an award-winning creation by the WSU/UI Science Food Club.

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valley farmer - harvest edition

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26 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

Small local dairy offers up handmade cheeses made from milk of goats

by Laura Gjovaag

ZILLAH - “I’ve had people ask me if I like raising goats,” said Traci Anderson of Blue Barn Farm. “I said you don’t do it unless you really love it.” Anderson spoke recently about her family’s dairy and what it takes to run the business. The Blue Barn Farm in Zillah is a Grade “A” dairy with a herd of Nubian goats. She said the breed is colorful, has long ears and are very vocal. “Every time I leave the house they all say ‘hi’,” she said. The farm currently offers three flavors of handmade soft cheese for sale, mostly at local farmers markets. “We’re at Richland on Friday, Prosser on Saturday, Yakima on Sunday, and the other four days we’re preparing for the markets,” Anderson said. The farm is still a small operation, but has expanded a bit. Only a week ago the Anderson family opened a farm store on the property. “We’re very close to a lot of wineries,” she said. “Some of the wineries already carry our cheese in their tasting rooms.” Anderson said the wineries were excited about being able to direct people to the farm’s store. For their part, the farm offers picnic kits with utensils, cheese and crackers. “Customers can get a kit, then visit a winery and get a bottle of wine, and they are all set for a picnic,” she said. She said they hope to eventually offer meats in the kits as well. When asked if she also sells milk, Anderson said it is something people request a lot. “It requires a whole new set of licensing,” she said. Despite the challenges, she and her husband are considering working on it over the winter. Anderson has another job over the winter, teaching at Zillah High School. As a result, the farm is strictly a summer business. But in order to have milk to make cheese in the summer, the kids must be born in March and April, well before school lets out. “We hand-feed all of them,” she said. “I had 62 this year to feed.” As a result of the feedings, the kids tend to bond to her. “If they hear my voice they go crazy,” she said. “I have to whisper around them.” She said the farm breaks even, with profits from selling the cheese taking care of the feed costs for the goats. “March and April are crazy,” she admits. “But we enjoy it.” ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 2, 2012

WSU releases soil testing guide for farms by Brian Clark

WSU Extension Publications earlier this summer released “Soil Testing: A Guide for Farms with Diverse Vegetable Crops.” The new fact sheet presents a comprehensive, yet affordable, procedure for implementing an annual soil-testing program for farms with diverse vegetable crops. The reader will learn when to sample, where to sample, how to take a sample and how to use sample results to improve farm management. “Healthy soils are living, dynamic systems that provide many functions essential to human health and habitation,” writes WSU Extension educator and soil scientist Doug Collins in the new publication. “Soil sampling and analysis can be used not only to sustain plant and animal productivity but also to maintain or enhance air and water quality. Using data from soil sampling and analyses to tailor farm management decisions can also improve both farm profitability and environmental stewardship.” Soil testing results can indicate nutrient deficiencies or excesses, nutrientholding capacity, organic matter content, and soil alkalinity or acidity. Soil analysis can guide farmers and gardeners in making soil amendment and soil management decisions. Making soil sampling an annual event enables farmers to track management practices and make informed decisions about future soil amendment practices. “Soil Testing” clearly and simply guides readers through the entire process of testing. The fact sheet describes developing a soil-sampling plan, when and how to take soil samples, and how to track and use the data collected. Collins is leading a team developing soil-fertility tests for use by organic farmers. He emphasized the importance of assessing particular sites for soilfertility. “What we’ve found is that you really have to know what is going on with a particular piece of ground. You can’t offer generalized advice about fertility management. That’s why we’re developing these tests,” Collins said. “Soil Testing” is available as a free PDF download at - Brian Clark is with WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences



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october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 29

Prosser orchards use UFOs for cherry yields by Nella Letizia

PROSSER - Two-year-old trees in the WSU Roza Experimental Orchard near Prosser are the first step in transforming a 100-year-old production system for sweet cherries — and they have UFOs.  No, the trees don’t harbor aliens, but they do grow unique branches. Called “upright fruiting offshoots” (UFOs), they form the core of a novel architecture ideally suited for mechanized harvesters in sweet cherry orchards of the future. Here’s the angle Planted at an angle, young trees are trained to grow UFOs on a two-dimensional plane, putting more of their effort into developing a fruiting wall instead of the non-productive wood typical of a traditional, three-dimensional canopy. Worldwide interest The UFO tree architecture is taking off around the world, according to Matthew Whiting, associate professor of horticulture at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center. Whiting also co-directs a $3.9 million, four-year collaborative project funded by a USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative grant to develop a sustainable, stem-free cherry production, processing and marketing system.  “I have had many emails and calls from growers in Chile, Turkey, Australia, Canada, Hungary and other countries — all interested in growing cherries with the UFO system,” he said. No. 1, 2 and 3 in production Improving sweet cherry production, processing and marketing is more important than ever closer to home, in the Pacific Northwest. Washington, California and Oregon ranked No. 1, 2 and 3 for U.S. sweet cherry production in 2010 at 156,000, 97,000, and 38,150 tons, respectively, according to a USDA report.  At the same time, sweet cherry harvest requires the most investment of time and labor among all tree fruit operations, Whiting said. Cherry trees and the orchards they grow in don’t accommodate mechanical harvesters; laborers still pick fruit by hand, carrying 10or 12-foot ladders all day.   Lack of pickers With each mature cherry tree producing between 50 and 200 lbs. of fruit, harvesting takes many pickers — often hundreds in a given crew. Unfortunately, that’s something the cherry and other tree fruit industries don’t have.  In Washington state, as a “one-time deal,” Governor Christine Gregoire sent 105 minimum-security prisoners in early November to help with one eastern Washington apple grower’s harvest after statewide growers couldn’t find enough workers to pick their fruit this past season. The national climate for foreign agricultural workers is to blame. State officials, petitioning Congress for help, estimated that nearly 72 percent of Washington seasonal workers are here illegally and claimed that many potential laborers are staying away because they’re afraid of being deported.  But immigration reform could reduce the labor pool even further.

Georgia’s 2011 ordeal with its immigration enforcement law serves as a cautionary tale. An economic impact report estimates that after HB 87 was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on May 13 and took effect on July 1, labor-related losses to participating growers after the spring and summer harvest were $75 million. Hurry to mechanize One Washington sweet cherry grower, Denny Hayden, president of Hayden Farms in Pasco, is paying close attention to the Georgia case. “We’re one political decision away from disaster,” Hayden said. “That’s why we started moving in this direction several years ago. But how do you mechanize? How do you move away from labor? The tough part is doing this fast enough. We’re expecting big things to come out of this program.” UFOs boost yield, efficiency That’s where the UFOs come in. Five years ago, a few growers in Washington, Oregon and California planted test UFO blocks in their orchards. Keith Oliver of Olsen Brothers Ranches in Prosser saw a 2011 harvest of 8.6 tons of Tieton cherries per acre on his UFO block, not counting the fruit from pollenizer trees. The state average on 40-year-old, traditional sweet cherry trees is 5 to 5.25 tons per acre, Whiting said. Oliver credits the architecture for the improved yield. “We had less doubling [a stress-induced doubling of fruit on each stem], and with Tietons, that’s always a concern,” Oliver said, “And because of the architecture, that was a benefit that we hadn’t counted on… the harvest efficiency was also better. The pickers filled the bins a lot faster with the UFO.”  Never again “We decided we’re never going to plant a traditional cherry tree again,” Oliver added. “We’ve seen the advantages of the UFO. It cost a lot to get the block in, but we think in the long run that the yield advantages that we’ve seen so far and the picking advantages will outweigh the initial cost of establishment.” The key is in promoting uprights. The more uprights you have in the first year, the better the chance for fruiting sooner — and the higher the yields. In 2011, the team of Whiting, graduate student Antonia Sanchez-Labbe, Joseph Grant of the University of California and Lynn Long of Oregon State University tested how timing the horizontal training of initial growth affects shoot numbers. The team discovered that the earlier the trees were tied down horizontally, the more upright shoots sprouted. Along with training, proper pruning techniques ensured renewal of upright shoots.  Now completing their second year of the USDA grant, researchers from around the country are also working to breed a sweet cherry variety with fruit that falls easily off the stem, develop a mobile cherry harvester, extend shelf life through better packaging, assess consumer preference of stem-free cherries and delve into the economics of mechanical harvest. - Nella Letizia is with WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

graphic courtesy Matt Whitting/WSU

This graph presents the strategy of an upright fruiting offshoots system (UFOs) intended to increase production.


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october 2, 2012

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 31

Kestrels keep orchards free of crop-damaging birds by Laura Gjovaag

Former orchardist Ben Dover successfully made the transition from cherry farmer to birdhouse building and kestrel expert. Speaking at a Sunnyside Noon Rotary Club meeting this past summer, Dover explained how he put up a nesting box one year at the suggestion of a friend at the Department of Fish and Wildlife after losing an estimated 20 percent of his crop to small birds. “I forgot about it, frankly,” he said. “But the following spring I realized there were no birds in my orchard.” The box had attracted a nesting pair of American Kestrels, the smallest type of falcon. “It looks very small, but it’s got a 22-inch wingspan,” Dover said of the falcon. “It flies fast, it dives fast and other birds are afraid of it.” Word of his success spread, and he helped a neighbor put up a nesting box and started to research the bird. He learned that kestrels are cavity nesters that prefer hollow trees. Without such trees, a nesting box with a three inch opening works. As word of the kestrels continued to spread, Dover quit farming and started to build and sell nesting boxes. Now he estimates nearly 2,500 of his boxes are out, attracting the birds. His efforts have gained national attention and he sells the boxes through his website at http:// He admits the kestrels don’t always come immediately, but the risk is worth the potential reward for an orchard owner. Listing off testimonials from five orchardists, he said 3 percent reduction in bird damage was a reasonable estimate of a kestrel’s impact. A kestrel will protect between five and seven acres. Doing the math, he said an orchard could save $2,940 with one successful nesting box. “They (orchardists) can’t afford not to have them,” Dover said, noting the boxes cost $47 and come with instructions and his expertise. “I don’t make guarantees,” he said. “Except that the boxes are environmentally safe and won’t cause global warming.” ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

Ben Dover speaks to the Sunnyside Noon Rotary Club about nesting boxes made to attract kestrels to orchards. Kestrels, the smallest member of the falcon family, drive away small birds and rodents, potentially saving a lot of money in lost produce.

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