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A special supplement to the Daily Sun News and Sun News Shopper • March 19, 2013

NEWS ‘toDay’S local newS toDay’

2 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition March 19, 2013

Timing key to fight powdery mildew by Laura Gjovaag

PROSSER – Michelle Moyer, viticulture specialist at WSU Extension, told attendees at the March grape fieldman’s breakfast at Café Villa in Prosser that they need to be concerned about the sexual habits of powdery mildew. “When it overwinters, it finds a partner, puts on a little Marvin Gaye music and reproduces little cleistothecia,” she joked, before describing how spores burrow into tiny crevasses in the bark of grape vines to wait for the perfect conditions in which to spread. Powdery mildew is not a new disease for grapevines, but it is a persistent one that develops over two years, so a year without preventative measures can result in an outbreak the next year. Moyer said the traditional way to deal with the fungus is by applying sulfur. But to get into the cracks in the bark that the spores are hidden in takes a lot of work and a lot of water. Fortunately, there are other

methods to control and contain the mildew, some of which are being tested further by WSU Extension. One factor that’s been determined is the timing of preventative methods. “Powdery mildew is kind of a fair weather beast,” Moyer told the group, describing the ideal temperature as over 50 degrees but not too hot or sunny. A couple of recent years with ideal weather meant many area grape growers saw infections in their vineyards. Because the mildew easily dies in direct sunlight, it generally doesn’t spread very well across rows unless there is a strong wind. In addition, the spore needs to land on green and growing areas of the plant to latch on, so if the plant is past certain growing stages, it’s no longer susceptible to the mildew. Applying preventative measures before or when the weather is ideal and at times the plant is susceptible means the farmer can use less fungicide and doesn’t have to apply as frequently. “The methods for controlling

this mildew were calendar-based 100 years ago,” said Moyer. “Then we moved to waiting for the right conditions. Now we know a combination of the two methods is more effective.” Moyer also mentioned that fungi like powdery mildew need to have a healthy host in order to thrive. “Humans are most susceptible when we are weak,” she said. “This is a different type of pathogen. It does not want a stressed plant. It’s very sensitive to the moods of the host.” This means that the fungus will prefer to attack a plant that is young and healthy. Moyer also told the group that WSU Extension has been working on a method of leaf removal combined with fungicide that is showing a lot of promise, but requires another year of testing before it can be announced. Moyer said that powdery mildew isn’t a new problem, but methods for dealing with it have advanced. “We’ve known how to deal with it for more than 100 years,” said

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Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

Michelle Moyer of WSU Extension lets grape growers know that an updated guide for pest management in grapes is available at the WSU Extension website at Moyer. “But our standards are higher now.” WSU Extension also has updated its pest management guide for grapes in Washington. Moyer had a copy of the guide to show and told attendees they could order a

copy or download a PDF version online at the WSU Extension website at ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email LGjovaag@

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

Daily Sun News - 3

WSU Extension offers irrigation information service

PROSSER – Washington State University experts offers a web site for agricultural industry professionals called the Irrigated Agriculture Information Service. The site is at and is designed to provide users with a customizable source of timely irrigation information. The service is completely free and was developed by a team of WSU Extension irrigation and agronomy experts. The system is based on a user-defined set of interests. Users are then emailed alerts and other information based on their customizable preferences. The system is currently equipped with more than 35 topic areas, from apples and cattle production to drip irrigation and wine grape growing. Once users create an account and set up topic preferences, they can log back in at any time and change their information preferences. “We want to provide members of the irrigated agriculture industry with only the information they want, when and where they need it,” said Andy McGuire, a WSU Extension educator based in Grant County. “We want to get research results and other information out as quickly as possible to those that use it on a daily basis.”

McGuire says the program is also cost effective. “This system replaces an older print-based information-delivery system,” he explains. “That not only saves money, it expedites the delivery of specific information to specific audiences. Email gives users the ability to receive timely water-management information at home, in the office, or on a smart phone.” Alerts will be topic specific, McGuire said. For instance, WSU’s pest-monitoring team will quickly notify potato growers if crop-damaging insects have been spotted in potato fields. Water management is a key issue faced by all agricultural producers, McGuire said. Properly managing a precious resource potentially affects producers’ economic bottom line. Likewise, good irrigation practices help reduce dust in cities and reduce the loss of valuable soil.

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4 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition March 19, 2013

‘Dairy for Life’ helping lives in the Yakima Valley by John Fannin

The Darigold lot in Sunnyside recently saw the circling of the wagons, so to speak. Make that circling of the milk wagons, as six tanker trucks of milk ringed the lot last month to announce Dairy for Life, a push by six local dairies to provide $60,000 for milk purchases benefitting food banks from Pasco to Yakima. “The Dairy for Life program will provide milk for folks that we think need and will appreciate it,” said Bill Wavrin, the Mabton dairy farmer who is one of the participants in the donation effort. Wavrin is also on the board of directors for the Northwest Dairy Association, which owns and operates Darigold. Participants in the program are Wavrin’s Sunny Dene Ranch LLC, DeRuyter Brothers Dairy, Skyridge Farms, deVries Family Dairy, Cow Palace and Sunnyside Dairy. The Dairy for Life idea was sparked last fall. “There was a pent up desire among dairy farm families to build on existing community service activities but until now there really wasn’t a mechanism in place,” explained Wavrin.  “Dairy farmers are always thinking of ways to give back to the communities that have supported us.

Often when I spoke with neighboring dairy farmers I found we were all looking for a concerted and ongoing effort in this regard.” The dairies came together late last year, and donations followed suit to allow free milk to start flowing to food banks in January of this year. Over the course of 2013, the dairies will commit $60,000 for the purchase of 25,000 gallons of milk to be distributed by Second Harvest. The total represents a year’s supply for those served by food banks. The non-profit is, in turn, getting the milk out to more than 50 food banks, including those in Sunnyside and Grandview. Cassie Hurley is Second Harvest’s development director for the TriCities, and she says many food banks lack sufficient refrigeration space to store large amounts of milk. As a result, her agency regularly distributes the donated milk – provided in gallon jugs - from a distribution center in Pasco. “Second Harvest is great at logistics,” said Wavrin.  “They have cold warehouses in Pasco and Spokane and are able to distribute the fresh milk to the food banks.” This isn’t the first time dairies in John Fannin/Daily Sun News this area have partnered with food Dairy representatives Genny DeRuyter and Bill Wavrin display a small sample of their product for banks. KAPP TV’s Eugene Buenaventura while announcing the Dairy for Life program in Sunnyside last see “Dairy” next page month.

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

Daily Sun News - 5

Dairy continued from page 4

In 2011 and 2012, local dairy farmers conducted a handful of food drives in Yakima and the Tri-Cities to benefit Second Harvest and other area food banks. Jon Wheeler is dairy manager for Sunnyside Dairy, and he says it’s an honor to serve the community in this way. “I think it’s great that we get to give back,” Wheeler says. “It’s a moral thing to do as a food provider and based on my faith.” The idea of sharing with the community was echoed by Wavrin’s brother, Sid. “Life’s been good to us and it’s good to give back.” Genny DeRuyter of DeRuyter Brothers Dairy pointed out that Dairy for Life will bless the Valley’s future. “We know there are a lot of children who go to school without nourishment,” she said. “This is a way we can help them and give back to the community.” With 2013 already a quarter of the way complete, dairy families are taking a big picture view of Dairy for Life. Their hope is for the program to not just be a one-year effort, but to circle the milk wagons and make this an on-going outreach for years to come. “In this economic crisis there are many people who are food insecure,” says Bill Wavrin. “We’re in the food business. We can help.” - John Fannin can be reached at or at 837-4500.

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

Dairy farmers responsible for a $60,000 grant to provide a year’s supply of milk to local food banks include: (L-R) Heather deVries, Tom deVries, Jake DeRuyter, Caitlin DeRuyter, Genny DeRuyter, Bill Wavrin, Jon Wheeler, Lori Wheeler and Sid Wavrin.

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6 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition March 19, 2013

WSU team studies how insect spreads crop disease by Rachel Webber

PROSSER - Thrips may be tiny, but the insects cause billions of dollars in damage to crops each year, which is why Washington State University is part of a five-year, $3.75 million project to study the insects’ role in virus transmission and strategies for pest management. Specifically, the multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary research team is generating new knowledge on thrips-transmitted tospoviruses - infectious agents that spread and cause damage to a variety of crops, causing them to wilt and eventually die. Tospoviruses also damage the quality of fruits and vegetables produced by their infected plants, said Naidu Rayapati, a researcher at the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser and co-principal investigator on the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. Before joining WSU in 2004, Rayapati worked with tospoviruses at the University of Georgia and at the nonprofit International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics headquartered in India. “We’d like to study how these viruses spread and contribute to the evolution of new strains,” Rayapati said. “For example, can a single insect acquire and transmit two viruses to the same plant simultaneously?” The project will focus on areas in

California and the southeastern U.S. where thrips damage is most severe and causes major crop loss. Rayapati said the team is also interested in understanding how management techniques applied in one region might work in another. “As a team we are bringing different expertise to bear on a common problem,” he said. “We hope to generate appropriate knowledge of thrips and tospoviruses and come up with improved strategies that can really help provide management of thripstransmitted tospoviruses to multiple crops in different regions.” Rayapati is actively recruiting graduate students and undergraduate students, with an emphasis on students from minority communities in the Yakima valley, to begin work on the project for summer and fall 2013. “This project has an extension component in terms of working with the stakeholders to convey science-based information for practical applications, but what we are also focusing on is training the next generation of scientists,” he said. The grant is funded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, with $670,000 allotted to WSU. The collaboration includes entomologists, plant pathologists, molecular breeders and extension faculty from University of

photo courtesy WSU

Thrips may be small insects, but they are part of a big research effort underway in Prosser. California Davis, Kansas State University, North Carolina State University, Cornell University, University of Georgia and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service U.S.

Horticultural Research Laboratory. - Rachel Webber is with WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences

Did you know? Washington state ports are the closest mainland U.S. ports to Asia. In fact, about twothirds of all Washington agricultural exports are destined for Asia.  Ships can arrive up to two days sooner in key ports such as Tokyo and Busan. Airfreight can arrive in Beijing in less than 15 hours.

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

Daily Sun News - 7

Becoming a ‘washivore’ means supporting your local growers by Amber Schlenker

Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a balanced diet. Not to mention, neighbors in Central Washington know that the healthy fruits and veggies they consume are for the most part grown, cultivated and harvested by friends, family and acquaintances in their hometowns. In an effort to spread the news, Washivore. org has dedicated a website to supporting Washington agriculture by listing reasons why one should consume Washingtongrown produce. Washivores, says the website, are those who are dedicated to consuming local products whenever accessible. That may be easier than one thinks, because Washington state ranks 20th of all 50 states when it comes to size, yet the state produces more types of crops than any other state except California. In the production of commodities, including apples, pears, raspberries, cherries, Concord grapes, hops, lentils and spearmint oil, Washington ranks first.

A Washivore can also take pride that the local food consumed was most likely produced by family-owned farms. Washivore. org says of the 39,000 farms in Washington, 95 percent are family-owned and operated. In addition to the balanced diets that farms across the state provide, Washington is the only state in the nation that commercially grows super foods like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and Concord grapes. The state many call home is also the second-largest producer of premium wines in the United States, with more than 740 wineries and 350 wine grape growers. The state’s agricultural industry, worth $38 billion annually according to Washivore. org, contributes 12 percent to the state’s economy and employs 160,000 people. The agricultural industry is also the state’s largest employer. These are just a few of the reasons consumers can and should, according to Washivore. org, continue to eat and buy Washingtongrown produce. ‑ Amber Schlenker can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Daily Sun News file photo

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Daily Sun News file photo

Asparagus is locally grown, produced and harvested in Washington state, and in Yakima County. These photos depict what many Sunnyside area locals can find freshly cut each spring season.

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8 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition March 19, 2013

What’s good for California may not be for local cherry growers by John Fannin

In 2012 both Washington and California enjoyed banner cherry harvests Only problem is the two states saw their shipments overlap by about three weeks. In other words, the end of California’s cherry growing season extended 22 days into the start of Washington’s. “The more overlap you get it tends to keep labor and prices down,” says Mike Gempler, executive director for the Washington Growers League. “There’s the need for cherry pickers and if there are a lot still in California they’re not up here,” he added. “That’s a big stressor. If the cherries are ready to be picked you have to pick them. They’re very perishable and you have to get them out to market.” Gempler says California’s cherry shipping season generally runs from mid-May to about midJune. Washington’s season starts in June and runs through August. The hope each year, he adds, is that California’s season finishes by July 4, which is prime time for Washington cherries. The issue isn’t that Washington and California overlap – it’s bound to happen given that one state ends

and the other starts in the same month – but it’s the duration of the overlap. That’s according to B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission who, like Gempler, is based in Yakima. The 22-day overlap in 2012, for example, was nearly three times longer than the eight days just the year before. Thurlby said Washington state shipped a bumper crop of 19 million boxes of cherries in 2012, and California enjoyed its second all-time best total of 8.5 million boxes. Because of the extended shared shipping season last year, he notes California purchased less than half of the normal amount of cherries from this area in 2012, a total of 900,000 boxes compared to 2 million in 2011. He adds even with a long crossover season like 2012, there’s still room for optimism. “Pricing wasn’t bad last year, we just had to make sure we had significant promotions elsewhere in the world for our early growers,” Thurlby says. There are other positives for growers here in that he notes Washington cherries are often preferable to consumers. Thurlby says that’s because this state pro-

photo courtesy WSU

For more than three weeks last year, buyers had their choice of Washington and California cherries hitting the market at the same time. That overlap was nearly three times longer than that experienced in 2011. duces bigger fruit and delivers a standard box that weighs 20 lbs. compared to the 18 lb. boxes of

cherries California ships. “There are good sugars in our cherry crop,” Thurlby says. That

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

Daily Sun News - 9

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Rainier cherries are sweet cherries with creamy-yellow flesh. The Rainier was bred as a cross-pollinator by Harold Fogle, a USDA breeder who worked at the WSU research station in Prosser. The diversity, size and sweetness of this state’s cherry crop is an advantage that helps overcome an overlap between the start of this state’s cherry season and the end of California’s.

Cherry growers continued from page 8

Since this state has a longer growing season than California, there is also the ability to sell more fruit later in the summer and in some rare instances early fall. Regardless of whether there is a long or short overlap between Washington and California, the bottom line to finding a good

cherry price point, Thurlby notes, is shipping a quality product “If we have the right quality the transition is seamless in prices between their crop and ours,” he says. - John Fannin can be reached at or at 837-4500.

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10 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition March 19, 2013

Peas and grains: a complete package Forage producers get more bang for their buck with a three-way grains and legume blends

It’s a given that wide open spaces below the leaf canopy lead to less leaf mass at harvest. Now, by combining the growth traits of three distinctly different forages, those yield-robbing gaps, once so common, are finally being filled in. Steve Fransen, WSU forage agronomist, explains that there is a direct correlation between how much sunlight is successfully

captured by a stand’s leaf mass and its eventual tonnage at harvest. “We known that the more sunlight a crop captures the higher its yield,” he says adding that stands that exhibit multiple layers or strata of leaves, collecting sunlight on both horizontal and vertical plains, are theoretically more likely to excel at this task than stands relying on single leaf canopies. “This is the premise behind planting grains which

grow vertically with legumes that spread horizontally.” Fransen is quick to point out that the candidates for such a blend must be carefully selected for compatibility noting that the density balance between the upper and lower leaf strata must be such that enough light penetrates the upper canopy to sustain growth of the lower ones. This is no simple task and requires of the decision maker an in depth understanding of how each plant functions both individually and as part of a blend. “Only when that person knows exactly how these varieties and genotypes perform can he start putting them together in a systematic way,” he says. “Otherwise he is playing a guessing game.” A nutritional bonus   For Fransen the advantages associated with matching the right grains to the right legumes don’t end at more tons of forage per acre. “Each plant contributes to an overall nutritional profile that is hard to beat,” he says adding that this is a classic case of the whole being greater than its individual parts. He cites, as an example, a three way blend involving annual small grains and a compatible pea. “By adding peas to small grains some of the quality parameters are improved,” says Fransen. “For instance your protein should be higher while your percentage of your crude fiber should drop improving the

forage’s overall digestibility.” Tapping the potential   One Northwest seed development company that is exploring the potential of small grain and pea blends is Progene LLC of Othello. Over the last decade the company’s research team has been screening grain and pea varieties for compatibility in a three way blend. Owner and plant breeder Kurt Braunwart sees Progene’s efforts broken into two stages. “First, we had to determine which two small grains were most compatible,” he recalls. “Then we had to find a pea that matched the profile of grains we selected.” Even prior to launching their quest for a high performing three way small grain and legume blend Progene’s researchers had discovered that there were definite nutritional advantages to using two small grains over one when compatibility was an established fact. “This was evident when we paired two highly compatible forage grains; EverLeaf 126 oat and Trical Merlin triticale,” says Braunwart. “In our field trials the 126/Merlin blend had the best quality (protein) of any blend and better quality than either 126 oats or Merlin triticale by themselves.”  Designer pea  While selecting the right forage grains for the three way blend was a relatively straight forward process finding the right pea for the see “Peas and grains” next page

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

Daily Sun News - 11

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WSU forage agronomist Steve Fransen is working on research for higher yield crops.

Peas and grains continued from page 10

blend would prove more difficult. “What we had to select from were spring peas that matured too early and fall peas that started too slowly to keep up with the grains,” he says. “Neither type worked well with our oats and triticale.” The researchers at Progene were faced with a serious germplasm issue. “What we needed for our three way blend was a forage pea that performed halfway between the spring and winter varieties and, at the time,

it didn’t exist,” recalls. Braunwart “If our three-way blend was to work the way we wanted it to work we had to design one.” Over the next decade Progene’s crop development team engaged in a systematic search for the pea cross that would possess the required traits. “Not only did we need a pea that matched the growth cycles of the grains from planting to forage harvest but we also needed to consider yield and palatability,” says Braunwart.

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12 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition March 19, 2013

Genetically modified foods up for a big fight by Laura Gjovaag

Washington State Initiative 522 was submitted to the legislature earlier this year, and if it passes, it would require labeling that indicates whether or not genetic engineering was used to create food products. To say that the idea of requiring this type of labeling has caused a debate would be a vast understatement. Arguments on both sides of the issue are being presented to the legislature and, if Washington lawmakers do not act on the initiative, it will go before the people to be voted on. The text of the initiative describes genetically engineered food as being produced from an organism in which genetic material was changed either through in vitro nucleic acid techniques (altering the organism’s DNA by adding hereditary material prepared outside the organism) or by cell fusion where the donor cells are not within the same taxonomic family. Foods produced through mutagenesis, selective breeding or somaclonal variation (plants produced through tissue cultures) are not included in the definition. The “Yes on I-522” campaign argues that polls show most consumers want genetically modified foods to be labeled, that international trade of food grown in the United States is being threatened due

to bans on genetically modified food in other countries and that agriculture resistant to herbicides have meant that more herbicides are applied to crops, potentially damaging soil. Opponents to the initiative argue that the label as required in the initiative doesn’t provide any useful information and amounts to being a scare tactic by implying something is wrong with the foods. It’s also been noted that having a Washington-state-only label will add an unreasonable burden on small- and medium-sized companies that would have to comply with the new law. In addition, United States consumers have been eating foods with genetically modified ingredients in them since 1996 with no documented cases of ill effects. Further, opponents of labeling note that consumers concerned about genetically modified foods can already select food that are certified organic, as that label prohibits genetic modification. A similar proposition in California went before voters in 2012 and lost. Initiative 522 is an initiative to the legislature, which means that if the legislature does not approve it in the current session it will go before voters in the next general election.

An initiative being considered in the Washington state legislature would require labeling to indicate if a food product contains genetically modified organisms. Proponents say it would give consumers more information while opponents say it is a scare tactic that implies something is wrong with the food.

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

graphic by Job Wise/Daily Sun News

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

Daily Sun News - 13

USDA to survey farmers on planting plans for 2013 by John Fannin

Workers are needed to harvest crops and wages on farms have been rising as the demand for labor increases.

Labor shortage not due to low wages by Laura Gjovaag

“It’s not that American workers don’t want to work hard,” said Dan Fazio, director of the Washington Farm Labor Association. “It’s just that they don’t want this kind of seasonal job that lasts only five months and doesn’t pay enough to support them for the rest of the year.” Fazio said the labor shortage in the agricultural areas of the state last year resulted in many farms taking advantage of the federal guest worker program. “You know there was a shortage when every application for guest workers was approved,” he said. “One of the requirements to prove the farms can’t find domestic workers is to advertise the jobs across the United States.” In addition, guest worker jobs have a higher minimum wage. This year the minimum is $12 an hour. “It really proves the need is desperate,” Fazio said. “Last year the minimum was $10.92, but it’s gone up because the prevailing wage being paid to agricultural workers has also gone up.” Fazio said the industry has consistently increased wages over the last five years by as much as 5 percent a year. “We have the stats to prove that wages in agriculture are going higher,” he said. Last year the state’s apple and cherry

harvests used about 4,000 guest workers. Fazio expect that number to increase 10 to 20 percent this year. He said Americans would be willing to take the job if they could make enough to live on, or get ahead. He noted American workers who take dangerous fishing jobs in Alaska as an example. But while farm jobs don’t have a high enough wage for Americans, they appeal to Mexicans. “These workers (coming from Mexico) earn $10 a day at home,” Fazio said. “Here they can make $100 a day. They can work in America during the harvest season six or seven years and save up enough to buy their own farm back home.” The guest workers that he works with generally don’t plan on living in the United States. They just need money to live comfortably at home. Fazio also said that some sort of immigration reform is necessary. He estimated the number of farm workers not authorized to work in the United States to be 40 to 50 percent of seasonal workers. Even with those workers, farms have faced a shortage of labor. “Something will need to be done,” he said. ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-8374500, or email

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To plant or not to plant? That is the question the federal government hopes to find out in the weeks ahead. It’s all part of the USDA’s plan over the next few weeks to survey tens of thousands of growers about their planting intentions for 2013. The results of this survey will help all participants in the ag-related fields to determine what to expect this growing season after a drought-hampered 2012 season. “The information we collect from producers in March establishes a trend that we’re likely to see in the entire growing season,” said Bob Bass, National Operations Division director for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The service is conducting the survey, and Bass says it’s important to get a handle on what farmers are planning for 2013. “This year, after a weather-plagued 2012 season, it’s more important than ever

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

Did you know? Washington state is number two in the country in production of apricots, asparagus, grapes, potatoes, green peas and corn for processing, onions and nectarines. This state is also second in the nation in exporting seafood and in the diversity of crops grown, more than 300.

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to understand planting intentions for this year.” Most survey participants should have received their questionnaires in the mail by now. The USDA says trained interviewers will visit those who do not respond to answer any questions they may have and to help them fill out their survey forms. “These surveys require a pretty quick turnaround so that the information is as current as possible,” added Bass. “We also recognize that farmers have a very busy time ahead of them and we want to let them get back to the task at hand as soon as possible.” As with all of its surveys, The National Agricultural Statistics Service keeps all individual responses confidential. The published reports will include only national and state aggregate data, ensuring that no individual operations can be identified.

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14 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition March 19, 2013

An apple a day keeps doctor away by Amber Schlenker

Whether they’re red, yellow, pink or white, apples are all precious in many health professionals’ sight. Apples truly are the “super fruit” for everyone according to the U.S. Apple Association. A popular saying, speaking to the rich healthy powers of apples is, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Research has verified this statement and recent studies have linked apples and apple products to helping with everything from weight loss to different types of cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes and even asthma. “Fresh apples are a very healthy nutrition option, since they are low in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol” said Nancy Hultberg, Chief Nursing Officer at Sunnyside Community Hospital. “In addition, they are a good source of Vitamin C and dietary fiber.” Dropping pounds The U.S. Apple Association says apples can also assist in weight loss. Studies show the im-


pact of fruit intake on weight loss found that overweight women who ate the equivalent of three apples or pears each day lost more weight on a low-calorie diet than women who didn’t add fruit to their diet. In addition to lower blood pressure and a trimmer waistline, apple product consumers are also at a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, which comes with a cluster of health issues related to diabetes and heart disease, according to apple health benefits facts listed by the US Apple Association. Peel and all The national association also notes apples for their antioxidants, and two thirds of the antioxidants are found in the apple’s peel. Antioxidants take on a role of maintaining good health in the human body. For more information on the nutrition facts and research findings of apples, visit ‑ Amber Schlenker can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Apples are said to have ample amounts of antioxidants and vitamin C. Local health professionals say daily apple consumption adds to a low saturated fat, low sodium and low cholesterol diet.



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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

State plans ag seminars Growers here in Washington state will have a one-stop opportunity to reach markets in Asia and Mexico thanks to a series of seminars planned next month by the state’s Department of Agriculture. The ag department, headed by Sunnysider and farmer Dan Newhouse, is bringing in buyers from China, Japan, Korea and Mexico in the hopes increasing agricultural exports to those countries. “Washington food and agricultural businesses not already exporting may be missing the boat—as well as the potential for reaching lucrative export markets in Asia and Mexico where consumers are hungry for agricultural products grown, raised or processed in the Evergreen State,” Newhouse said in a press release issued by his office. Two of the three 90-minute marketing seminars with will be held near Sunnyside. The first is in the Tri-Cities on Monday,

April 15, and the second is Tuesday, April 16, in Yakima. The final seminar will be held in Seattle on Wednesday and Thursday, April 17 and 18. Based on the information exchanged in the consulting session, the Washington State Department of Agriculture will then work to organize meetings between foreign buyers and small ag businesses here in Washington. In September, these foreign buyers will then visit participating Washington firms, sample their products and explore new business partnerships. All of this is funded by a federal grant from the State Trade and Export Promotion program developed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. To register for these export seminars, contact Julie Johnson at jjohnson@agr. or (360) 902-1940.

Farm fresh from A to Z Whether it’s apples or zucchini, there’s produce growing for most of the year here in the Yakima Valley. Below, courtesy of the state’s Department of Agriculture, is an overview of what’s fresh from April through November in the Yakima Valley. April Asparagus May Asparagus and chard June Asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, currants, gooseberries, peas, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries and zucchini July Apricots, green beans, beets, boysenberries, cantaloupe, carrots, cherries, sweet corn, cucumbers, currants, gooseberries, loganberries, marionberries, melons, peaches, potatoes, raspberries, rhubarb, squash, tomatoes, watermelon

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August Apples, blackberries, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, huckleberries, hops, loganberries, marionberries, melons, nectarines, okra, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, raspberries, rhubarb, squash, tomatoes and watermelon September Apples, blackberries, cantaloupe, carrots, Indian corn, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, huckleberries, hops, onions, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, pumpkins, raspberries, rhubarb, squash, tomatoes and watermelon October Apples, carrots, grapes, huckleberries, onions, potatoes, pumpkins, raspberries and rhubarb November Apples and potatoes

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Daily Sun News - 15

Nutrition affects calf health and herd productivity for years Proper cow nutrition affects calf performance, health and survivability more than any other factor. That’s according to the LSU AgCenter, which notes problems are magnified in heifers if they are not properly supplemented. Here are some of the problems the AgCenter says can be encountered if cow nutrition is lacking during gestation of the calf. - Increased Dystocia Underfeeding Late-gestation cows can lead to more weak calves and stillbirths, mostly due to prolonged labor. Weak calves are more likely to get sick and die, and they have decreased performance. - Weak calves Birth weights of calves will decrease, as will brown fat storage (important for generating warmth). Both are important for calf vigor and survivability in the short term and reducing sickness and death rates in the long term. - Sick calves A decrease in calf birth weight and vigor increases the chances of calves not getting colostrum in time. To compound this, cows that are nutritionally deprived cannot produce good colostrum. Both of these problems lead to failure of passive transfer (FPT) in calves. Calves with FPT are more likely to get sick and die. Even if calves survive an illness, they do not grow as well as healthy calves.

- Vaccine responses Having a scours problem and decided to vaccinate the cows prepartum to protect the calves? Cows can only respond to a vaccine if they have proper energy, protein and mineral levels in the diet. If a cow isn’t taking in enough protein to maintain her body condition, she can’t make antibodies, which are protein, and put them in her colostrum for her calf. Therefore, vaccinating cows to protect calves through colostrum will only work with proper cow nutrition. Calf vaccine response is also poor in calves that don’t get adequate colostrum. So even if vaccines are administered, calves will still get sick and possibly die. The outcome means fewer and lighter calves at weaning. - Infertility Females in poor body condition don’t breed back readily. Letting cows drop to body condition score of four instead of maintaining them at five can drop conception rates by 15 percent. Dystocia rates also increase as body condition drops. Increased dystocia leads to poor conception rates and delayed conceptions. The bottom line is that winter feeding costs are a major expense in cow-calf herds. So, selecting a winter feeding program that is cost-efficient is imperative. However, making sure nutrient requirements are met during this time is critical to future profitability. An investment now can pay dividends for years to come.

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16 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition March 19, 2013


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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - B-1

B section


A special supplement to the Daily Sun News and Sun News Shopper • March 19, 2013

NEWS ‘today’S local newS today’

B-2 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

Dissatisfaction growing with labeling of organic foods by Laura Gjovaag

The certified organic label doesn’t always mean what consumers think it means. A push-back has started against a label that was originally meant to help consumers find healthier food, but now has been diluted enough to make savvy consumers look closer. The organic movement The original goal of the organic movement was to produce food that is free of pesticides and other contaminants that may have a detrimental effect on the health of consumers. The movement for organic foods has been around for more than a century, ever since the introduction of synthetic fertilizers and the application of pesticides in increasingly industrial agricultural operations began to concern some farmers. With the publication of “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson in 1962, a general awareness of the potential dangers of pesticides began to create a demand for pesticide-free foods. By the 1980s consumer groups started to create certification programs for organic foods and pressured governments to do the same. In 1990 the Organic Foods

Production Act began to establish what could be labeled as “certified organic” in the United States. However, critics say the rules have developed some glaring exceptions over the years. The national list of allowed and prohibited substances includes some items that those in the organic movement do not believe should be permitted, which has led to some dissatisfaction. The hops exemption One example used by critics of the USDA’s organic labeling program was the exclusion of hops from the requirements of organic farming. Beer made with hops grown with prohibited substances was still considered organic beer and could be labeled as such. The justification for the exemption of hops was that not enough different types of hops were being grown organically to meet the market demand. In Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News 2010 the committee that han- Organic produce must adhere to strict guidelines to be certified, but some exceptions in processed dles organic standards decided foods have led to concerns that the label is being diluted. to phase out the exception. As of Other critics note that smaller sumers, the demand for food that the beginning of 2013, hops are Cornucopia Institute in May of now required to be grown to the 2012 claims the USDA has “in- operations may have difficulty is raised responsibly will also regular organic standards in or- appropriately favored corporate obtaining the organic label de- grow. agribusiness over the interests of spite following a majority of der to be considered organic. ethical businesses, farmers and the rules and regulations. Such ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at Corporate organic operations also note that sustain- 509-837-4500, or email LGjovaag@ A paper released by the consumers.” ability is not a requirement under the USDA’s rules for organic production, nor are labor issues addressed. A sustainable future To satisfy consumers conAILY UN cerned by the perceived dilution of the organic label, other movements have developed that promote eating locally or sustainable farming practices. Whether or not consumers continue to trust and buy items labeled as certified organic depends on many factors, critics say, including future decisions by the USDA. But as concerns about the food supply chain – including worries about genetically modified organisms – grow among con-



NEWS Salutes Our Local Farmers ‘TODAY’S LOCAL NEWS TODAY’

Did you know? In 2010, Washington exported more than $6.1 billion worth of food and agricultural products.

Did you know?

Laura Gjovaag/Daily Sun News

All food certified to be sold as organic in the United States must meet the same criteria, regardless of the origin of the food.

Among all U.S. states, Washington is number one in the harvest of: apples, sweet cherries, pears, concord grapes, red raspberries, carrots for processing, hops, spearmint and peppermint oil, as well as wrinkled seed peas.

Bringing you local news, sports and weather. Watch for business, lifestyles, health, and stories on your friends and neighbors. Call 837-4500 to subscribe! Only $5.50 per month or $66 per year.

March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - B-3

Cherry, stone fruit growers approve $5 million assessment by Brian Clark

PULLMAN – Cherry and stone fruit growers throughout the state have agreed to make a $5 million investment over the next eight years at Washington State University research and extension centers in Prosser and Wenatchee. This builds on a similar measure voted on by apple and pear growers in 2011 to galvanize cooperation between the industry and WSU. “The close partnership between Washington’s tree fruit industry and Washington State University continues to be transformational,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “Working together for more than a century, we have helped to make Washington a world leader in tree fruit production. “The assessment by cherry and stone fruit growers, in combination with the $27 million investment in WSU made by apple and pear growers in 2011, helps to ensure that our partnership in progress continues for an even brighter future for our state,” he said. “We are

extremely grateful for the industry’s confidence and investment in WSU.”   State Department of Agriculture officials certified the election results Monday, Feb. 4. Separate ballots were mailed for cherries and stone fruit. The referendum was approved by 338 of the 565 ballots cast by cherry growers, a 59 percent approval rate, and 32 of the 47 ballots cast by stone fruit growers, a 68 percent approval rate.   Cherry growers will be assessed $4 per ton and stone fruit growers $1 per ton. This investment comes at a time when the state’s $46 billion food and agriculture industry continues to increase its contribution to the state’s economy. Annually, the Washington tree fruit industry accounts for more than $7 billion of economic impact, with more than a third of that derived from exports.   When cherry and stone fruit growers rejected a similar measure in 2011, many industry leaders felt it was imsee “Fruit growers” next page

Irrigation pipe and power lines

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B-4 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

Growing YVCC viticulture and enology program meeting needs of wine industry, students by Jennie McGhan

GRANDVIEW – The viticulture and enology program at YVCC’s Grandview campus is in its fifth year, and Ag Department

Chair Trent Ball said the program continues to grow. Yakima Valley Community College in the fall of 2007 opened its Workforce Education see “YVCC” next page

Yakima Valley Community College at its Grandview campus provides students an opportunity to work in the teaching winery. Here, Jensena Newhouse (center) gains experience promoting the wines produced by students during a July 2012 Tri-chamber social. Also pictured are Melodie Smith (left) and Nicole Carter. Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Fruit growers continued from page B-3

perative to try again. “The Board of the Washington State Fruit Commission voted unanimously to re-run the referendum, and we are thrilled growers affirmed the importance of this investment,” said Gip Redman, a cherry grower and chair of the commission. “Now the entire Washington tree fruit industry is involved in the efforts on our behalf at the WSU research and extension centers in Prosser and Wenatchee - efforts which keep our industries globally competitive.” Jim Doornink, chair of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, said approval of the special project assessment further cements a long-standing partnership between WSU and the state’s tree fruit industry. “This investment builds on the strategic road map outlined by the industry and WSU over a decade ago for all our commodities,” said Doornink, who raises cherries, apricots, peaches, pears and apples in the Yakima Valley. “That trajectory has continued according to plan with WSU’s strategic hires, the commission’s continued funding of priority projects, and now this industry-wide support to make our research and extension partnership with WSU unequivocally the best in the world.” “We compete in a global market, and this investment ensures we will continue to be leaders in innovation while maintaining economic prosperity for Washington growers,” said Jake Gutzwiler, a cherry grower and quality control manager for Stemilt Growers who added that research and innovation have always been at the heart of the Washington tree fruit industry’s success. Gutzwiler is also chair of the WSU Endowment Advisory Committee, which, along with WSU administrators and researchers, has been guiding decisions about how to direct funds from Washington apple and pear growers’ $27 million investment.

“We’ve been developing a list of industry needs in terms of research and extension,” he said. “The challenge has been developing these needs for only apples and pears, when cherries and stone fruit are a significant part of our industry. “We just saw the hiring of Desmond Layne, a leader in the delivery of scientific information to producers through extension,” Gutzwiler said. “And with the recent hire of Stefano Musacchi, a worldrenowned pomologist (fruit scientist), the industry investment has already attracted two of the best scientists in the world to work right here in Washington. “With the additional $5 million investment by cherry and stone fruit growers, we can ensure these new positions represent the full Washington tree fruit industry,” he said. Dan Bernardo, vice president for agriculture and extension and dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, agreed.   “The full support of the tree fruit industry is a testament to three critical factors,” he said. “The first is the commitment and foresight of an extremely progressive industry. The second is the

long history of quality contributions by our gifted and dedicated scientists and extension professionals at WSU who work tirelessly to serve the industry. And third is the trust and respect built between the two during a century-long partnership.” Bernardo said WSU has been making significant and strategic investments in all areas of tree fruit research and extension over the past decade. For the special project assessment, WSU is working closely with the industry-appointed Endowment Advisory Committee to ensure their dollars are directed where they will have the most impact. Bernardo will continue to work directly with the committee to ensure industryendowed programs perform at the highest level and produce results for the growers and shippers of Washington. Floyd announced WSU’s historic comprehensive fundraising effort - “The Campaign For Washington State University: Because the World Needs Big Ideas” - in December 2010. The tree fruit industry’s combined commitment of $32 million will be counted toward the campaign’s $1 billion goal. Donors, businesses and organizations

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - B-5

YVCC continued from page B-4

ers, cellar workers, cellar masters, tasting room attendants and tasting room managers. Classes provided by YVCC have increased by approximately 25 percent over the years. A grant from the National Science Foundation in 2010 has also allowed the program to become more “hybrid,” said Ball. He explained there are more courses available to students via online and classroom training. “That allows us to expand the offerings.” Leach has taken advantage of those offerings, stating she has taken winery compliance and fruit wine production courses that are 100 percent online. “The hybrid classes I have taken are essentials of winemaking, winemaking and advanced winemaking,” she said, adding a list of seven other hybrid courses to her transcript. She said she chose online classes over traditional instructor-led courses because of the convenience. “Online and hybrid classes were especially great to have in the fall when I was interning at Snoqualmie Winery. I am in the Navy Reserves so having online and hybrid classes means I don’t miss out when I have to participate in drill,” said Leach. She said her family, especially her husband, supports her efforts to earn a college degree. “They know I am working towards a degree that will help me be successful in life.” Leach said that support in addition to the ability to take courses that are flexible made it easier to focus when she was serving as an intern. “I knew I didn’t have to rush to get to class right after work,” said Leach, adding she can access recordings of any classes she misses or when she wants to review something that is talked about during a particular class.

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Ball said the viticulture and enology program at YVCC is industry-driven. “As the industry continues to grow and develop, the program is modified to meet the industry needs.” He said that is why the adviso-

‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email JMcGhan@





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There is a teaching winery and two incubator wineries, as well as many field trips to provide students a clear vision of the various job opportunities in the wine industry. The two incubator partners are Mark Wysling of Parejas Cellars and Kevin Cedergreen of Cedergreen Cellars. Ball said Parejas provides unique opportunities for the students participating in the viticulture and enology program because the wines created by Wysling are Spanish varietals. The teaching winery produces between six and eight varieties of wine each year, but the addition of Spanish varieties broadens the experience for the students. Ball said students help with fermenting, filtering and blending wines. The first graduates of the program earned their degrees in 2009. Since then, nearly 30 students have taken on jobs in the wine industry, according to Catherine Jones. She teaches some of the courses provided at the college and oversees the grant programs that make it possible to provide hybrid and online classes. “A lot of students work in the industry while continuing their education,” he said, noting community colleges provide a unique educational experience. They give students the opportunity to take the number of classes they can fit into their schedules while continuing to work. “The benefit to the students is that they can work and learn simultaneously,” said Ball. Currently, he said there are 35 students enrolled in the program. The students can focus on several different careers in the wine industry. Ball said the careers include marketing, farm management, viticulture technicians, laboratory technicians, assistant winemak-


Center in Grandview. The center houses the college’s programs for students interested in receiving education for careers in the health care field, as well as in the wine industry. “We’ve been gaining, growing strong ever since,” he said. The viticulture and enology program was designed to help meet the wine industry needs, as well as to provide Yakima Valley residents the opportunity to seek careers in the industry. Christa Leach is a current student in the enology program. She works in the laboratory in the program, but said she has a desire to seek a career in wine marketing. She is pursuing a degree in winery technology and will graduate this coming June. Those goals keep her motivated. “I feel that by going through this program I will be able to easily talk to clients about grape growing and winemaking,” she said. Ball said industry leaders have come to recognize the quality of the students and the educational programs available at the college. YVCC, he said, “…has developed partnerships in the wine industry, which helps the program grow.” Ball said it is through those partnerships that students are provided internship opportunities, and often times permanent job placements. Because the students are often high-caliber employees, the wineries for which they work are able to see first-hand what is offered at YVCC. That turns into more partnerships in the industry. With success comes growth. The program, said Ball, has grown exponentially. He said students have an opportunity to gain more hands-on opportunities. An on-site vineyard furthers those opportunities.


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B-6 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

Research seeks to improve fertility of local dairy cows by Kathy Barnard, WSU News

PULLMAN - In the 1980s, the conception rate in an average herd of dairy cows was around 50 percent; today that number has dropped to 35 percent. A team of scientists led by Washington State University’s Tom Spencer is turning to advanced genomics technology to address what has become a challenging issue facing the dairy industry.  “Besides feed cost, infertility is one of the most costly issues for the dairy industry,” said Spencer, who holds the Baxter Endowed Chair in Beef Cattle Research in the Department of Animal Sciences at WSU. “In general, there has been a 1 percent per year decline in fertility.”   An infertile animal has to be culled from the herd, he explained, leaving the producer with the expense of supporting the animal until infertility is confirmed, as well as the cost of replacing the animal. Barrier to competitiveness “Fertility is a complex polygenic trait, so it is harder to select for than other traits,” Spencer said. “If we can identify and isolate the multiple genes responsible for fertility, we may be able to tell earlier what cows are going to be fertile – maybe as early as at birth.”   The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and

Agriculture has invested $3 million to help address cattle infertility, which is one of the biggest barriers to global competitiveness for American dairy farmers. The five-year grant, announced earlier this year, includes scientists from WSU, University of Idaho and University of Florida and components in research, outreach and teaching. The goal of the project is to increase the sustainability, profitability and international competitiveness of the U.S. dairy industry, Spencer said. “Our hypothesis is that dairy cow fertility can be increased through genetic selection for maternal fertility in heifers and cows and the use of sires with high daughter pregnancy rates,” he said. Identifying, isolating multiple genes The research component will begin by focusing on identifying genetic markers for fertility in dairy heifers and cows. Spencer and WSU animal scientist Holly Neibergs, as well as Joe Dalton from the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science at the University of Idaho, will work with select dairy producers in the Northwest to collect cattle DNA and blood samples and identify which genes are associated with fertility. University of Florida animal scientist Pete Hansen and John Cole, research see “Fertility” next page

March 19, 2013

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Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - B-7

Fertility continued from page B-6

geneticist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md., will pursue the second research step: identifying and isolating the factors contributing to daughter pregnancy rates based on the sire’s genetics and select sires that transmit high fertility genes to their daughters. Outreach to dairy farmers The outreach component has three parts and is led by Dalton. A team led by Albert DeVries, an economist in the University of Florida Department of Animal Sciences, will evaluate the efficiency and profitability of increasing fertility in dairy cattle using genetic selection tools. The results of that cost-benefit analysis will be available online and will include a worksheet to help dairy farmers determine if the new technology makes sense for their specific situations.   Outreach also will include working with focus groups to better understand dairy farmer needs and to test the understanding of and the best way to describe genomics to the target audience. Dale Moore, director of veterinary medicine extension at WSU, will lead that part.   The third part entails transferring the technology of improving fertility using genetic selection tools to dairy farmers, dairy farm personnel and their advisors – in both English and Spanish – using DAIReXNET and extension road shows. DAIReXNET is an online resource for the dairy industry. Dalton and Mirielle Chahine, also of the University of Idaho, will focus extension work on developing bilingual educational opportunities for current and prospective dairy employees. “Ultimately, the focus of our outreach component is to provide educational opportunities and tools to dairy producers, their employees and allied industry to increase fertility and the sustainability of dairy businesses,” Dalton said.  Complementary pursuits The USDA grant dovetails with a grant Spencer and Neibergs received last year from the National Institutes of Health to study infertility in beef heifers and use that information to help increase the success of human pregnancies.  “It is a really cool opportunity,” Spencer

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WSU researchers Holly Neibergs and Tom Spencer are at work to improve the fertility rate of dairy cattle. said. “At the end of the day, through USDA and NIH, we hopefully will be able to impact a large segment of animal agriculture in the United States and leverage our findings

for the benefit of both beef and dairy cattle. It’s exactly the way it should be – working together on a common goal and having a positive effect on animal agriculture.”


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B-8 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

Keep your garden ‘growing like a weed’ by Amber Schlenker

When getting ready to plant the annual garden, there may be a few helpful tips to keep your garden growing like a weed all summer long. In Ruralite’s February 2013 issue, author Kris Wetherbee says planting certain vegetation next to each other may help, or hurt the growth of that plant. Allies, as they are called, help improve the flavor of neighboring vegetables by providing nutrients. Wetherbee says deep-rooted plants such as comfrey or buckwheat are able to dig deeper for the nutrients a neighbor plant may be in need of. In addition, other plants like peas, beans lupines and clovers have the ability to transport nitrogen from the air into their roots, where bacteria in the plant can convert the nitrogen into a helpful nutrient. Protective plants like Marigolds are also a good example. Weatherbee says Marigolds protect and help their neighbors because of the thiopene in their roots. Thiopene is a substance that is toxic to certain types of soil-dwelling roundworms. Planting Marigolds next to your beans and tomatoes, two plants known to be susceptible to round-worm pests, may help ward off those plant-damaging worms. Pest-repelling plants also include rose-

mary, safe, lavender, oregano and other strong smelling plants. Their repellant quality has to do with the strong odors, says Wetherbee, which thwarts aphid attacks on susceptible neighboring plants. Other defensive gardeners may plant marigolds and garlic along the perimeter of the garden in order to repel aphids and beetles. Another way to keep pesticides on the down low is to sow plants that attract bug-eating birds, which include nectar, seed and fruit-bearing plants. “Companion planting is all about diversity, which is key to any healthy garden,” Weatherbee advises. “So go ahead and experiment with your own companion plantings. Knowing when to begin planting in your region is also a must, according to experts at the Washington State University Master Gardeners’ program. The frost-free season in the inland Northwest, according to Master see “Growing like a weed” next page

Strategically planting vegetation could help repel pests and give the plants in your garden added nutrients for a healthier, more fruitful garden this summer.

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - B-9

Growing like a weed continued from page B-9

Gardeners, is usually between May 15 and September 15. This varies from year to year and there are many microclimates. Also, when considering the space allotted for the garden, vegetables do best in full sun, with a minimum of six hours each day. Master Gardeners say a few of the leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach,

will grow in partial shade. Morning sun only may be sufficient for beets and carrots. Experts also say planting garden rows north to south for maximum light is a good idea. Gardeners should also keep in mind that good drainage is necessary. ‑ Amber Schlenker can be contacted at 509-8374500, or email

Daily Sun News file photo

Gardeners should keep in mind that good drainage is necessary.

Daily Sun News file photo

Companion planting is all about diversity, which is key to any healthy garden.


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B-10 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

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Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - B-11

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Thanks to sunny days and the rich agricultural industry in the Lower Valley, area residents can enjoy fresh-cut, fresh picked fruit and vegetables any time they are available. Lydia Hernandez cuts fruit at the Mexican Fresh Fruit stand near Lincoln Avenue and South 16th Street in Sunnyside during a sunny March afternoon, with a long line of waiting customers.


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B-12 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

Fertilizer company growing in Mabton by Jennie McGhan

MABTON – Peter Aleman was working for a fertilizer company in the Yakima and Columbia region when he decided to branch out and start his own company, Bio-Gro. He formed the company in the late 1980s, according to Bio-Gro Research and Development Manager Eric Harwood. “He found the perfect location near Mabton,” said Harwood, stating the company has been contributing to the Mabton and Lower Yakima Valley economy ever since it was formed. The company, he said, manufactures more than 100 different products. “Our humic acid fertilizer is the primary product manufactured at the facility,” said Harwood, noting the company produces both organic and conventional fertilizers for agricultural use. Humic acid fertilizer was the first product manufactured by Aleman’s early venture and the company continues to grow. Olga Turnbull is the company’s international sales and marketing manager. She said the company produces approximately 2 million gallons of fertilizer each year and as many as 30 people are employed by Bio-Gro during the peak times. Harwood said “We market our products primarily in Washington, California and Wisconsin.” However, he said, Bio-Gro products are distributed in at least six other states, including Florida, Nebraska, Idaho, Oregon, Michigan and Arizona. “We are a wholesale operation,” said Harwood, noting the company has two warehouses from which the company’s fertilizer products are distributed, one in the Fresno, Calif. area and one in Grand

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Eric Harwood, research and development manager at Bio-Gro, stands beside a screening device that makes the company’s fertilizer more refined and liquified to keep fertigation lines from being plugged. Marsh, Wis. The company has been expanding its reach into international markets, as well. Harwood said Bio-Gro recently shipped products to Ireland.

With the expansion Turnbull, a veteran employee, took on new responsibilities. Harwood said, “The company doesn’t compost plant or animal products.” He said its fertilizers are made from nat-

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Two cents for every gallon of Bio-Gro fertilizer sold is sent to Africa. The contributions funded the construction of an orphanage there.

ural products like humigant, a bi-product of lignite coal. The company’s conventional fertilizers, said Harwood, are specifically formulated for different crops. The products are made for both soil and foliage application processes, depending on the needs of the grower. “Some crops we capitalize on include potatoes destined for potato chips in Wisconsin and Washington, as well as strawberries grown in California,” said Harwood. “We don’t produce nitrogen-based fertilizers,” he said, stating the humic acid fertilizers help plants absorb nutrients better. Harwood said the humic acid fertilizer increases nutrient availability, efficiency and retention. It helps stimulate and improve soil microbiology. Turnbull said Bio-Gro completes a soil analysis for growers to determine which of the company’s products will provide the best results. Harwood said the soil analysis is conducted at an outside lab, but the company has an in-house lab that ensures the integrity of Bio-Gro’s fertilizer products. In addition to contributing to the local economy, Harwood said Bio-Gro is focused on its philanthropy projects, as well. The company sends two cents for every gallon of fertilizer product sold to Africa. Those contributions funded the construction of an orphanage and now are being used to construct a greenhouse and other facilities like a chicken coop to help the see “Fertilizer company” next page

March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - B-13

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Employees of Mabton’s Bio-Gro are proud of the company’s support of local schools and an orphanage in Africa. Pictured are (front L-R) Debbie Wyatt, Trudy Thomas,

Eric Harwood, Lori Emard and Olga Turnbull; (back L-R) Steve Blodgett, Don Thomas and Doug Sandvick.

Fertilizer company continued from page B-12

orphanage to become self-sustaining. The company also supports local schools in the Lower Yakima Valley, according to

Harwood. He said Aleman is very proud of all his company has been able to accomplish in

this way.

‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

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Bio-Gro near Mabton uses large mixers to manufacture its humic acid fertilizer and other products sold to members of the agricultural industry.


B-14 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - B-15

B-16 - Daily Sun News


Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

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)

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 sixteen 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 2012, the Port received 42,845,100 cubic feet of water discharged from the industries (320,482,348 gallons). The 2012 breakdown is as follows: Darigold 60%, Valley Processing 10%, Independent Foods 15%, Johnson Foods and Johnson Cannery 8%. The balance of our influent, 7% came from Centennial Tank, DRR Fruit, LTI/ Milky Way, JM Eagle and Yakima Chief.

March 19, 2013's what we do at our Wastewater Treatment Facility M 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 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.

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

2640 E. Edison Ave., Suite 1 P.O. Box 329, Sunnyside, WA 98944 - (509) 839-7678 After the industrial waste water has been treated and processed, it is applied to 400 acres of alfalfa fields.

Tours of the facility and sites may be arranged for interested parties by calling 839-7678

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

Jim Grubenhoff Vice President

Jeff Matson Secretary

March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - C-1

C section


A special supplement to the Daily Sun News and Sun News Shopper • March 19, 2013

NEWS ‘today’S local newS today’

C-2 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

Hybrid program provides additional learning opportunities for wine specialists by Jennie McGhan

GRANDVIEW – Students participating in the Yakima Valley Community College viticulture and enology programs have greater opportunities to learn using what program director Trent Ball calls a hybrid program. The program integrates online coursework with hands-on classroom instruction. “Some lecture-based classes can be taught online,” Ball explained, stating the flexibility of the online classes provides students the opportunity to maximize their time on campus. Ball said the ability to integrate online courses with the traditional classroom work was made possible via a National Science Foundation grant. see “Hybrid program” next page

Yakima Valley Community College Grandview campus offers what are called hybrid courses in viticulture and enology, giving students the ability to receive classroom instruction mixed with online instruction. Time in the classroom also provides an opportunity to interact with students on the Yakima campus as seen on the monitors in the background.


Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - C-3

Hybrid program continued from page C-2

He said the college was provided the ability to design the principles for online instruction using the grant funding. “It’s a different structure,” said Ball, stating the goal of the program is to provide students the same experience online as they would have in a lecture hall. Students still have labs, discussions and practical application work that must be completed on campus. However, there are discussion boards, videos and modules online to further the educational experience. Ball said many of Yakima Valley Community College’s students must balance their educational needs with work and family. In the fall, several of the viticulture and enology students serve as interns at area wineries. That, said Ball, can make it difficult to arrive on campus in a timely fashion. Online courses, said Ball, are taught in blocks lasting one week each. There are milestones that must be reached to achieve academic progress. With the online courses, a student can log in at specified times for the purpose of interacting with classmates. They can at other times log in at their convenience to view lectures via video. Ball said the model is considered student-centered because it places more control of the learning process in the hands of the student. He said it empowers the students, helping them to better retain the information learned. The students are more proactive, according to Ball. In the classroom, winemaking students work on hands-on activities like measuring titrations, filtration and bottling. The viticulture students are involved in learning pruning techniques, how to gather bud counts and canopy management. “The advantage of a hybrid program is that it allows students to use all facets of the brain,” said Ball, stating students are obtaining knowledge via auditory, visual and hands-on learning. Ball said the students are also better able to focus on the coursework during their down time, time when other responsibilities aren’t a distraction. ‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email JMcGhan@

Students taking online courses in viticulture and enology at Yakima Valley Community College also spend time in the classroom. Here, students learn about Eastern European terroirs in Catherine Jones’ classroom from guest presenter Jack Watson (left).

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

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C-4 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

In it for the long haul WSU apple breeding program nears 20th year by John Fannin

WENATCHEE – WA 2, WA 5, WA 38. They sound like names of secret agents, or maybe an odd Bingo game. But they are actually new breeds of apples produced by WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, which is funded by growers and WSU. Getting the breeds to market requires upwards of 15 or even 18 years. That’s according to Dr. Kate Evans, an apple breeder at WSU’s Wenatchee center. “For the most part it’s on the longer side than on the shorter side,” Evans said of the time needed for apple breeding. She says the process all starts with cross pollinating two “parents” or apple breeds. “We end up with orchards full of several thousand unique seedlings,” Evans said. Apple breeding is so time consuming, she adds, because of the painstaking process to determine which one of the thousands of seedlings is the best prospect for initial development. Then there are additional phases where the chosen seedling is propagated, multiplied and refined year after year. Then there’s the time needed for that perfect seedling to mature and produce enough woody tissue to sup-

port growth and, eventually, produce fruit. For example, WA 2 was the first apple created in Washington for Washington’s growing climate. WSU’s Wenatchee center started work on that new breed in 1994 but it didn’t get to growers – who call it Crimson Delicious – until 2009. In fact, the process takes so long that Dr. Bruce Barritt, who started WSU’s apple breeding program in Wenatchee, retired in 2008 before WA 2 came to fruition. Evans started working at the Wenatchee center in 2008, moving here from England, where she was also involved in apple breeding. She’s tickled to have been on board in time to see WA 2, the state’s first apple, go to market. “It’s very exciting,” Evans says. “For an industry of this size it’s about time the state had its own apple.” She says the apple breeding program started here because prior to that time there were no apple variesee “Long haul” next page

Even sweeter, tarter and crisper than WA 2, WSU’s WA 38 may reach growers this year as part of the university’s apple breeding program.

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March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - C-5

Long haul continued from page C-4

ties specifically bred and selected for the growing conditions in this state. And that’s important, she adds, because Washington state has prime growing conditions for apples. “We have very low humidity and that’s a big influence,” Evans said. “We don’t have the prevalence of diseases there are elsewhere.” While noting the risk for apples here is primarily sunburn from summer heat, she says the fall climate in Eastern Washington is perfect for apple growing.

“In the fall when the apples are ripening we have a really good temperature difference between day and night and that helps them to ripen up nicely and color.” The result of apples bred for Washington’s conditions is WA 2 – a cross between Splendour and Gala with a firm, crisp sweet taste with a good amount of tartness – and WA 38 – a product of Honey Crisp and Enterprise apples that’s even more crisp sweet and tart. But not all of the apple breeds reach growers and markets.

While WA 2 was released in 2009 and WA 38 will hopefully be released this year, WA 5 ended up being a no go. Evans says that’s because though WA 5 tasted and looked great, it did not fare well in storage. It’s been nearly 20 years since WSU started its apple breeding program, and Evans says its not resting on the good results with WA 2 and WA 5. In fact, she says the next breed or breeds of apples are already in the pipeline. It’s too soon to say which one will make it, or what number it




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will be given, but Evans says right now she has 24,000 seedlings in the ground at the Wenatchee center. “The thing about the breeding program is that it’s an ongoing process, every year we make new crosses, new pollinations,” Evans says. “It’s a long term commitment to move things forward.” But the commitment to new apple breeds is one she’s happy to make. “That’s basically what it’s like to be a tree fruit breeder,” Evans says. “As breeders it’s a legacy we leave behind.”


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C-6 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

Zirkle expands services to include wine crush facility by Jennie McGhan

PROSSER – Zirkle Fruit Company in Prosser wants to serve a variety of fruit growers in the area and last year embarked on a new venture. The company added a new grape crush facility for wine grape growers and wineries in the Yakima Valley. The facility was constructed last year and opened to wineries during the October 2012 crush season, according to Cellar Master Erubiel Clara. There are two winemakers at the facility, David Forsythe and Frederique Spencer. Their combined 50 years experience in winemaking helps the facility produce a quality product, according to Operations Manager David Copeland. Copeland and Forsythe have experience working for Hogue Cellars and Mercer Estates. Spencer hails from France, but has been making wine in Washington for nearly 20 years. She said, “This facility is really unique.” Spencer said she has worked in cramped quarters, but the Zirkle Wine Co. facility is spacious and has the capacity to store 1.2 million gallons of wine. There are also plans to add more storage tanks at the facility. She is also proud of the company’s foresight and care of the grapes to be processed at the facility. The hoppers used for receiving

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Zirkle Wine Co. has storage tanks in its newly constructed grape crush facility to hold approximately 1.2 million gallons of wine. The tanks are different sizes for custom crush wines. the grapes are separated according to white and red grapes. They are also 18 feet above the ground lev-

el to allow a gravity fed conveyor system transport the grapes from the hopper to the crush facility.

Enologist Becca Bailey said, “The process is gentler on the fruit.” Once the crushed grapes are in

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

A state-of-the-art centrifuge is used at Zirkle Wine Co. Here, Cellar Manager Erubiel Clara and Winemaker Frederique Spencer talk about a request from a customer that wants to use the centrifugation process prior to fermentation.

the storage tanks, said Clara, there is a system that removes the carbon dioxide from the tanks. Spencer said a vacuum is attached to the top of each tank during the fermentation process. She said another part of the system for red wines is the pump-over process used to keep the berry in contact with the juices, the “must,” for continuous extraction of tannins. “It’s like a coffee machine,” said Spencer, stating the juice is taken from the bottom of the storage tank and continually sprayed back into the top of the tank, giving the wine more color and tannins. “It’s very efficient,” she said. Clara said the facility is a custom crush facility, producing wines for various wineries in the area. Spencer said, “We follow the instructions from the client winemakers.” Bailey said each winemaker has his or her own protocols that must be followed by Zirkle Wine Co. “As the enologist, it’s my job to ensure the quality is maintained,” she said, stating each wine must be sampled and tested on a daily basis. For that, Zirkle Wine Co. has provided her a lab on site that is filled with the equipment needed to ensure the integrity of the product. Spencer said, “As a custom crush facility, Zirkle is trying to offer services like filtration, storage see “Zirkle expands” next page

March 19, 2013

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition Daily Sun News - C-7

Zirkle expands continued from page C-6

and centrifugation.” She said the company is exploring the bulk wine market and last year made its own Riesling for that purpose. “That’s what is great about the wine industry…they are always trying something different.” Spencer continued, stating Zirkle has a customer that is interested in attempting the centrifugation process before the grapes are fermented. Typically, she said, centrifugation takes place after the fermentation process. Clara said Zirkle decided to venture out into the field of winemaking because the company currently owns approximately 3,000 acres of vineyards. Spencer said, “This allows the company to further its diversification…one of the challenges is each year training a new crew with little to no experience.” Clara said the permanent staff, however, met the challenge in 2012 and looks forward to a second season. ‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Samples from the custom crush wines being produced at Zirkle Wine Co. are taken each day to ensure quality.

Zirkle Wine Co. Cellar Manager Erubiel Clara and Enologist Becca Bailey smell samples of wine made from pears and grapes before taste testing them. Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

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Winemaker Frederique Spencer draws wine from a barrel at Zirkle Wine Co. She said the wine was made specifically for Zirkle Fruit Company in an effort to explore the bulk wine market.

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C-8 - Daily Sun News

Valley Farmer - Spring Edition

March 19, 2013

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Valley Farmer - Spring Edition