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Farmer Valley

Harvest Edition O C T O B E R 4 , 2 016




Your Lower Yakima Valley News Leader

Handling the 24-7 of hop harvest


Vineyards, wineries promoting tourism


Garden grows into a seasonal business


Buying fresh, local, catching on downtown


New book explores state’s hop history


and much more...

Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

Handling the 24-7 of hop harvest Story and photos by Julia Hart SUNNYSIDE – The aroma of hops drying fills the air near the Newhouse Family Farms on South Emerald Road. The heady smell of the green cones cooking means Yakima Valley hop harvest is in full swing. For third generation hop farmers Devon Newhouse and wife, Halley, harvest means long hours and constant vigilance. The rhythm of the Yakima Valley harvest, which began in mid-August, is expected to wrap up during the next few weeks. “We are usually in harvest for about six weeks,” said Devon. In the meantime, keeping two shifts of crews healthy and the equipment in 24-hour-a-day running condition is a full time job. “There are a lot of moving parts to manage,” he said. The stress of the annual six-week harvest schedule is nothing new for the young couple. In fact, it is one of the challenges that

see “Harvest” next page

Devon and Halley Newhouse test hops in the field for moisture and aroma. Harvest began in late August and is expected to wrap up in the next few weeks.

We have the Dried hops cascade on to the kiln floor before being scooped up for the baling process.

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

A steady stream of hop trucks roll-up, as the hook and pulleys grab the hop vines for sorting on their way to becoming bales.


continued from page 2

most appeals to them. He is head of the operations, while she in charge of the marketing and administrative end of the business. It is a life the young couple finds very rewarding’ “He, of course, grew up on the farm. I’ve been around it for years,” she said. But it has only been in the last several years that the couple has worked together on the farm. “I grew up around the farm. This has been my full time job since 2007,” he said. Halley, who trained as a surgical technologist, decided in 2013 to join her husband full time in the family business. “It’s pretty great being your own boss,” she said. Newhouse also admits it is a huge responsibility. Not only is the couple’s livelihood at stake, so is that of their employees. That includes those picking hops in the fields, hop truck drivers harvest machinery operators, as well as the men and women who sew the bales of kiln dried hops for shipment. And that is just during harvest. That doesn’t even account for the months leading to harvest; the planting, growing and nourishing. “Our hops are sold regionally and nationally. We have a lot of craft beer makers who travel to the farm to check on the harvest,” she said. The Newhouse operation raises 28 va-

rieties of hops, including those still in the nursery. Currently, the most popular of the hop types is the Cascade hops, although more people are asking for the Comet variety,” he said. The Cascade has long been a staple in the industry, as is the Centennial hop, Newhouse said. “We always look to see which hop varieties will work in or farm’s climate and soil,” she said. The Comet variety introduced to the area more than 40 years ago is enjoying a revival. It has a lot of aroma. “And that is a big thing in many of the new beers,” she said. The largest market for hops is beer. But it is also used for teas, soaps and even in some medicines, she said. “We are always on the look-out for new markets for the hops,” she said While much of the couple’s harvest is under contract, they still do a fair amount of direct sales to brewers. “Sometimes a buyer will just buy a single yard (the term for the trellised fields of hops),” she said. The Newhouse Family Farms hops have been shipped to Colorado, and as far as Pennsylvania. In addition to raising hops, the couple has acreage in wine and juice grapes and fruit trees.

Once cones are separated from hop vines, they travel to the drying rooms on the third floor of the hop kiln.


2nd Harvest

Your donations can help us feed hungry people. DONATION EXAMPLES: Apples • Stone Fruits • Potatoes • Onions • Pears For more information contact: Sarah MacPherson | Food Sourcing Manager T: (509) 545-0787 | M: (509) 308-4210 “Second Harvest has been a pleasure to work with and we love knowing that our fruit can be used for such honorable community efforts.” John Gebbers, GM Gebbers Farm

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

Irrigation shut down to start Oct. 19 by John Fannin

This early shutdown will allow

SUNNYSIDE — Growers in the Yakima Valley have just a precious few days left of irrigation water. The Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District plans to start its shut down Oct. 19. Assist Manager Operations Dave Bos said it will start at the district’s headgate and conclude on Oct. 21. “Some laterals and deliveries may have water for a few days beyond that date as the canal is draining and dewatering,” Bos said. Besides the head gate, Lateral 35.51 will also shut down on Oct. 19. “This early shut down will allow for work to commence on this year’s piping projects,” Bos said. He advised irrigators to call the district at 837-6980 if they have any questions. The piping projects include the enclosed lateral improvement project in Sunnyside,

for work to commence on this

year’s piping projects.

Dave Bos

Bos said. The Roza Irrigation District has set Oct. 20 as the tentative date for its shut down.  “Oct. 20  is the latest date we can run water under Roza’s contract with USBR (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation),” District Manager Scott Revell said. “Draining the system takes about five days.” Roza’s projects include the Wasteway 5 regulation reservoir. Growers this year had their full allotment of water this season. In 2015, Roza farmers received less than half of their usual irrigation supply.

New app for irrigators When do I turn the water on? How long should I leave it on? Washington State University researcher Troy Peters has developed a mobile app to help irrigators answer those questions on smart phones and mobile devices. The Irrigation Scheduler mobile app uses local weather data. It is also available as a stand-alone website, It was designed for agricultural use, but also works for lawns, gardens, or turfgrass. It automatically pulls daily crop water use estimates from agricultural weather station networks to estimate daily soil water deficit. The user just needs to input how much they irrigated on a particular date throughout the watering season. It displays charts and tables for visual evaluation of soil water status and irrigation or rainfall. Irrigation Scheduler is available for both Apple and Google platforms.

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John Fannin/Daily Sun

Local canals, like this one near Crescent Avenue and Swan Road in Sunnyside, will soon run dry with the close of the irrigation season.


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Sunnyside winery an example of new trend by Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities RICHLAND — Wineries and vineyards are exploring a new, specific way to promote their wines: “terroir tourism.” Marketing terroir — an area’s environmental characteristics such as soil, topography, climate and farming practice — has increased in states like Washington and Oregon, said Byron Marlowe, instructor of hospitality and wine business management at Washington State University Tri-Cities. “It presents a new and growing opportunity that can further the Northwest’s name and brand as a wine destination for the world,” he said. Northwest locations, such as those in the Yakima Valley, present ideal conditions for Vitis vinifera grape varieties, which encompass many preferred and

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prominent grape types in the western United States wine market and in most of the world, Marlowe said. “The terroir in the Pacific Northwest, and more specifically the mid-Columbia region, is a major reason for the quality of wines you see across the state,” he said. “Great wine starts in the vineyard, and you can’t have a great vineyard without the ideal soil, climate amount of sunshine and geology.” Much like producers  in California’s Napa Valley and locations in France and Italy, Washington wineries are starting to promote these conditions as elemental to the region’s generally high quality wines. “It would make sense that terroir would be a determining factor in wine tourism in the Northwest,” Marlowe said. The Côte Bonneville Winery in Sunnyside is an example. It produces and promotes wines based on the vineyard’s farming practices, climate and unique soil elements, Owner Kathy Shiels said. “Our vision was a classic Burgundian

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model, where small areas of the estate were bottled separately to showcase the terroir,” she said. “It has become much more common in the industry today to differentiate yourself by a sense of place.” Marlowe said in Oregon, particularly, the popularity of organic wine has increased, with wine enthusiasts focusing more on farming practices. Nearly 50 percent of Oregon vineyards are sustainable or organic, according to Oregon Organic Wine. “Oregon has been able to recognize and attract the wine tourist who has high levels of place attachment to its unique terroir through sustainable and organic growing practices,” he said. Badger Mountain in Washington realized the value of an organic wine operation when it created the state’s first organic vineyard and winery in 1990 and 1996, respectively. Marlowe is working with regional organizations to generate additional interest in terroir tourism, as well as examining whether it may lead to wine

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enthusiasts crossing state lines. “Vines don’t recognize state borders and neither do geographical features, soil types and climate,” he said. “What I’m looking into is whether these state borders have an impact on terroir tourism and whether state lines matter when wine enthusiasts visit wineries in a particular region.”


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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Vineyards, wineries promoting tourism

Oct. 4, 2016

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

Julia Hart/Daily Sun

A 50-gallon bucket of tomatillos brings a good price in the Puget Sound produce market.

Garden grows into a seasonal business by Julia Hart

page 6

SUNNYSIDE – It started out as a small garden plot just large enough to grow a few vegetables for his family. After 12 years, Pedro Garcia’s garden spot has grown to two acres of lush tomatoes, hot chiles and tangy tomatillos. “It keeps him busy,” his wife, Debbie Guerrero, said. She said he travels as far north as Bellingham to sell his famous peppers and tomatoes. Throughout the summer Garcia is busy cultivating and caring for his crops in preparation for the harvest. From about mid-July until the first frost, Garcia will load the back of his van to make the trip to Western Washington to sell his Yakima Valley-grown produce. “There is quite a market for his vegetables,” Guerrero said. “He even sells to area produce stands on occasion.” Of all the years Garcia has sold produce, this year seems to be the biggest, Guerrero said. “We have large tomatoes and even our peppers are special this year,” she said. “Our peppers have good color and they have a little heat.”

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition


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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

Apple harvest up 15 percent over 2015 Growers will just miss setting all-time record

Washington apple growers

expect to deliver a large crop of beautiful apples to consumers

Daily Sun staff SUNNYSIDE — This year’s apple harvest is expected to reach 132.9 million boxes. That’s the forecast released recently by the Washington State Tree Fruit Association. The figure is for the 2016 statewide apple crop. It is 15 percent more than 2015’s 119 million boxes. It’s about 6 percent shy of 2014’s record of 141.8 million.  “Weather in 2016 has been favorable for the development of a high-quality crop with good color and storability. In addition, harvest began one to two weeks earlier as a result of those conditions,” association president Jon DeVaney said. “Washington apple growers expect to deliver a large crop of beautiful apples to consumers this year.” Consumers will have many varieties of

this year.

Jon DeVaney

Washington apples to choose from. While Red Delicious remains the most numerous variety with a projected 25 percent of production, Gala is close behind at 23, followed by Fuji at 14 and Granny Smith at 13 percent of total production. Honeycrisp is forecast to come in at 7 of the total crop and Cripps Pinks at 4 percent.  This forecast is based on a survey of association members, and represents a best estimate of the total volume of apples that will eventually be packed and sold on the fresh market. Since apple harvest could continue into November, the final harvest count is subject to change.

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

page 10

Buying fresh, local, catching on downtown story and photos by Julia Hart SUNNYSIDE — The weekly farmer’s market afternoons at Centennial Square are numbered. The market, now marking its third year, will close for the season tomorrow. Already, shoppers are seeing fewer vendors in the downtown park. For the past several weeks, the number of vendor booths have dwindled down to just a three farmers and an occasional craft booth. “The crops are just finishing up,” market spokesman Robert Matus said. Sunnyside Farmer’s Market is open May 25 through Oct. 5. Vendors sell from 4 to 8 p.m. most Wednesdays. He said several of the vendors simply ran out of produce to sell. Tony Garcia, who mans the Lopez Farm booth most weeks, said the change in the weather signals the season’s ending. “We’re just nearing the end of the season. But it has been a good one,” he said. Matus said this is the first year the local market, which at the peak of the season boasted 15 booths, will be able to cover expenses. He said the market made $9,000 this season. Big days at the market include children’s day, for example. On that day, youngsters were each given $5 tokens and allowed to buy any fruit or vegetable they wanted. Matus said it was a big hit. This year, the market also offered special tasting events, had extra food and cooking demonstrations, which Matus said were well attended. “We’ve had a Department of Agriculture grant to help us get started,” he said. But it ends as of Oct. 5 “We are already working on finding more grants for next year,” Matus said. The local market is one of two regular markets in the Lower Yakima Valley. Prosser’s Farmer Market will stay open through Nov. 26. Other area markets which will stay open a little longer are the Sunday Yakima Farmer’s Market and the Friday Market at the Parkway in Richland. Many local farmers participating in the Centennial Square market raise their produce within a 15-mile radius of town, making it fresh and very local, two things area shoppers prize. This year the Fernandez Family Farm was the sole certified organic food booth at Centennial Square. “We’ve had a really good summer,” Wendy Granados said. She helps out at

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John Fannin/Daily Sun

Randy Charvet’s crew gets to work in Sunnyside to harvest concord grapes on Crescent Avenue. The concord harvest this year is up by about 25 percent over 2015, Charvet said. He personally anticipates harvesting 10 tons in 2016 compared to eight last year.

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

‘Big data’ and federal aid leads to better trees Researcher nets $3 million grant by Seth Truscott, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences PULLMAN — Scientists at Washington State University are harnessing the power of “big data” to help growers create the next generation of healthy, sustainable forests and tree crops. Dorrie Main, professor in the university’s Department of Horticulture, is leading a $3 million effort to create cyber-infrastructure that helps researchers and breeders share and use tree data. The National Science Foundation funded the grant. Scientists are generating a wealth of data on tree genomes, genetics and breeding. The problem, Main said, is making sense of it all – especially once

you add environmental and geographic data. “Due to advances in gene sequencing technology, even small labs are putting out mountains of data,” she said. “Cumulatively, we’re talking about billions of data points. The big challenge is analysis and interpretation.” Main To help people generate and use big data, Main and her colleagues aim to unify access to information through a network of community-driven databases, data mining and analysis tools, and educational modules. Such a network would allow scientists, students and tree breeders to share, filter and use data in meaningful ways, from basic discoveries to new varieties. “We want to give breeders more tools to make good decisions,” Main said. Over the past decade, her team created

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seven public, open-source databases for 25 crops. They range from fruit trees to vegetables. The National Science Foundation project is the next step. “This new grant will build a unified system of tree databases, help people build their own databases and then connect them in a way that’s currently unavailable,” Main said. These resources could help breeders more quickly create new, more adaptable varieties. Building the network is urgent, Main said. Scientists are in a race with evolving diseases and a changing climate. She is excited about how shared information can help breeders. “These tools could help scientists create crops that use the genetic diversity that already exists in their wild relatives,” she said. “We can develop new cultivars that require fewer chemicals, grow on marginal land and are adapted for harsher climates while still producing quality yields.”

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Local growers serve as grape industry leaders SUNNYSIDE — From the earliest vintages, the Yakima Valley has grown more grapes for Washington wineries than any other appellation. With a rich history of growing, farming families here now represent three generations of experience with this land and how to cultivate it.  Today, the second- and thirdgeneration farmers are sharing their knowledge in leadership roles throughout the state and beyond. Knowledge runs deep in the veins of Todd Newhouse of Sunnyside, who grows grapes, cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches, prunes, pears and apples in the Yakima Valley. His family began farming alfalfa in the valley in 1913. Newhouse, a third-generation grape grower, now serves the wine grape growing industry as a lead-

er. He was elected Chairman of the Winegrape Growers of America in June. He also serves as the chairman of Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers and was named the “2016 Honorary Grower of the Year” by Auction of Washington Wine. Growth and change are also a constant for Brenton Roy, a diversified farmer growing hops, grapes, and apples in the valley. When Roy took over his family’s Prosser farm, the apple and hop markets were depressed and the orchards were outdated. The wine grapes were the “shiniest crop” the farm had in the ground. He was 25- years-old, his parents had just moved off the farm, leaving it to him. Today, Roy lives in the house where he grew up, overlooking a farm that he has tripled in size and modernized with new varieties, new crops, and new growing techniques.

Roy too serves his industry as a leader. He was appointed Board Chairman of the Washington State Wine Commission in June after serving as the vice chair for the past two years. He was also named the “2015 Grower of the Year” by Good Fruit Grower, a trade magazine focused on farming. Newhouse and Roy have deep farming roots growing up in the Yakima Valley, and they both attended small, liberal arts colleges. Roy went to Gonzaga University in Spokane, where he earned degrees in history and philosophy, and Newhouse attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, studying history, philosophy and anthropology. The success of these two grape growers is drawn from decades of experience refining the land and supporting world class viticulture. — Barbara Glover is the executive director of Wine Yakima Valley.

Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

by Barbara Glover

Oct. 4, 2016

Roger Harnack/Daily Sun

Sunnyside grapes harvested on East Allen Road.

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Valley Farmer Harvest Edition

Oct. 4, 2016

New book explores state’s hop history

Meeker deserves long

by Caryn Lawton, WSU Press PULLMAN — A new book details how an Oregon Trail pioneer put Washington state on the path to dominance in the U.S. Hop industry. “Hop King: Ezra Meeker’s Boom Years,” by Dennis M. Larsen, is the first comprehensive biography to chronicle the rise and fall of Meeker’s hop empire, as well as his key role in Washington Territory’s growth. Larsen believes Meeker’s effect on the region has largely gone unnoticed and writes in his introduction, “Meeker deserves long overdue recognition for the influential part he played in building the foundation of the modern state of Washington.” The state last year accounted for  75 percent of the U.S. hop harvest, much of it grown in the Yakima Valley. Covering Meeker’s life 1860-96, the book describes his stagger-

overdue recognition for the influential part he played in building the foundation of the modern state of


Dennis M.Larsen

ing success with the lucrative plant that earned him the moniker, “Hop King of the World,” and enabled him to pursue a variety of other business, political and charitable interests. Some were rewarding; others were controversial or even utter failures. He traveled abroad, promoted Washington and Puget Sound, participated in the women’s suffrage movement and helped start schools and libraries. He ran for Congress, testified to a grand jury

about Tacoma’s November 1885 Chinese expulsion, expended a great deal of time and effort trying to develop a market for beet sugar and became entangled in multiple lawsuits. By 1890, an E. Meeker & Co. hop circular boasted Washington and Oregon would – barring unforeseen circumstances – produce “fully seventy thousand bales of hops” that year. But it wasn’t long before Meeker noticed the foliage in his hop fields seemed “off color . . . not natural” and discovered his plants were teeming with pale green aphids – hop lice. That awful moment signaled the ultimate collapse of the Hop King’s reign. Although his philanthropy and numerous other pursuits left a lasting impact, this marked the end of an era. “Hop King” is paperback, 268 pages and is available through bookstores nationwide or direct from WSU Press.

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