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Valley farmer Harvest Edition

A special supplement to the Daily Sun News and Sun News Shopper • October 11, 2013

2 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

Water use can be managed to improve crop production

by Jennie McGhan

PROSSER – By reducing the amount of water used in irrigating vineyards, production may be improved. That’s according to Dr. Marcus Keller, who spoke to members of the grape industry at last month’s viticulture and enology field day hosted by the Washington State University extension office in Prosser. He said when he arrived in the Yakima Valley in 2001 he was surprised by the irrigation methods used by local farmers. That’s when he decided to research water and irrigation management methods. “The idea is to minimize labor,” said Keller, stating some irrigation methods not only use more water than is necessary, but more labor. Drip irrigation is growing in popularity as grape growers learn more effective irrigation practices. Keller said he had to prove to some growers that drip irrigation can reduce

the need for hand labor. For the past three years he has been involved in research that uses seven different irrigation treatments. The control rows in a particular block are watered at 100 percent evapotranspiration, which is the sum of  evaporation  and  plant  transpiration  from the land surface to atmosphere. Researched are irrigation at 50 percent evapotranspiration, and 50 to 75 percent at veraison (the transition of berry growth and ripening). “We wanted to see if there are times when irrigation is more important,” Keller explained. The type of grape being grown can impact results, as well. He said Concord grapes, for example, do not grow well in higher temperatures. The grape vineyards used for the research were Concords because Keller believed those were the vineyards being over-irrigated. He said the research has shown the see “Water” page 4

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Dr. Marcus Keller (far right) shows a group of individuals attending WSU extension office’s viticulture and enology field day the difference in canopy growth based on the water supplied via different irrigation treatments.

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october 11, 2013

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 3

USDA predicts farm income to fall 2.5 percent by Brett Wessler

Farmers will have a smaller income this year with projected 2013 median income decreasing by 2.5 percent. The USDA report lists the median total farm household income to reach $66,989 in 2013, down $1,691 from 2012. The most recent data shows the total as a combination of farm income and off-farm income. This year’s farm income is projected to fall $847 to settle at a median loss of $2,300, however the median off-farm income is expected to increase by 1.8 percent, reaching $60,659 in 2013. The USDA recognizes median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income because figures are based on unique distributions. - Brett Wessler is a staff writer with Drovers CattleNetwork

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4 - Daily Sun News

west News

valley farmer - harvest edition


october 11, 2013


continued from page 2

canopy of the grapes is slightly larger when irrigated at 100 percent of transpiration. That isn’t a good thing, however. “The grapes don’t get as much light,” said Keller. At 75 percent of transpiration, the canopy isn’t as thick and the grapes receive enough light to produce approximately 15 percent more grapes. “At 50 percent the crop has mber 1, 2013berries, get aleading Woodsman Carrying Case, Loop of Chain and smaller to 15 percentdealer smaller cost crop,”with said Keller. $20.96 the purchase He said irrigation can beMS re- 251, chain saws (MS 211 C-BE, duced after veraison. He also said a MS 291 only). Carrying grower cannot com- Case Kits increments fourof (4). Mix-andpensate forof a lack water. “So, it is important apply water aturedto in Fallmore Marketing early in the season.” advertising September 16 through Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News Keller also adDr. Marcus Keller of the WSU extension office or $29.95 (up to a $77 .30 SNW-SRP vised growers to 4 shows those attending a viticulture and enolhase water of select their chain vine- saws. ogy field day how he measures light filtered by yards just before the a vineyard’s canopy. numbers when irrigation canalsordering. are turned off.


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october 11, 2013

valley farmer - harvest edition

Exploring options for controlling dust

by John Maday

Dust, or what regulators call particulate matter, is a significant issue for feedyards and dairies, with implications for animal health and community relations. During an Academy of Veterinary Consultants conference this past August in Colorado Springs, Brent Auverman, PhD, a professor of biological and agricultural engineering with Texas A&M AgriLife, presented results of research into air-quality options for livestock operations. Auverman noted that feedyards typically experience an “evening dust peak,” which is the primary target for overall dust reduction. Several factors contribute to peak levels of airborne dust in the evening. Cooler temperatures encourage cattle activity – walking and playing – that stirs up dust, and pen surfaces typically are at their driest level of the day at this time. Also, a temporary atmospheric temperature inversion often occurs in the evening, holding much of the airborne dust close to the ground. Dust emissions during this time

can reach eight to 15 times the average levels for the day. The evening peak does not typically occur in dairies, largely because milking schedules tend to distribute animal activity throughout the day. Dust emissions are a function of pen-surface dustiness and animal activity, so managers can reduce emissions by managing one or both of those factors. Sprinkler systems are an effective tool for managing pen surfaces, but they are expensive to install and water availability can be a limiting factor. Auverman and his team designed a research trial to evaluate stocking density as a means of reducing dust in feedyard pens. Concentrating animals in a pen can help shade the pen surface, reduce activity and concentrate urine and manure to keep the pen surface moist. The researchers used a pen-surface assessment system to score the potential for pens to create dust emissions, using a scale of A through F, with A representing a well-packed pen surface and F representing a surface covered with an inch or more of fine, non-

WSU tests find no genetically modified herbicide resistance in Northwest wheat

compacted manure. An additional designation of W designates a wet surface with virtually no potential for dust emissions. They set up the trial with control pens stocked at a normal density of 150 square feet per animal, and treatment pens double-stocked at 75 square feet per animal. They then modified an ATV, using an optical device for measuring airborne dust and a GPS recording system. Researchers drove the ATV down an alley bordering the downwind side of the single-stocked and double-stocked pens at a consistent speed several times each day. In this trial, double stocking reduced dust emissions by 60 to 80 percent during peak periods. During the trial, the researchers never recorded a W rating in single-stocked pens, or an F rating in the double –stocked pens. Auverman believes additional observations probably will result in reductions averaging closer to 50 percent. Auverman summarized his presentation by outlining three management options for reducing



Daily Sun News - 5

see “Dust” page 7

PULLMAN - Washington State University researchers have tested all the university’s wheat varieties, as well as others around the Northwest, and found none with the genetically modified herbicide resistance discovered in an Oregon crop this past spring. WSU’s tests involved wheat varieties developed at the university, at sister universities and by two of the three largest commercial wheat seed companies in the Pacific Northwest. Among them were nearly 50 commercially grown varieties from WSU, the University of Idaho and Oregon State University, including new WSU varieties such as Otto, Puma, Sprinter, Glee, Diva and Dayn and 24 varieties from Westbred/Monsanto and Limagrain Cereal Seeds. The time-consuming process also included 1,900 advanced breeding lines from WSU programs and more than 20,000 individual plots. The tests involved growing seed, spraying infant plants with the herbicide glyphosate and conducting molecular testing if necessary. None of the plants showed the transgenic glyphosate resistance found in the fields of an as-yet-unnamed Oregon farmer.  This summer, the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said grain tests and interviews with several hundred farmers found no other instances of glyphosate resistant crops. “WSU undertook its own investigation as part of its commitment to serving Northwest farmers and the agricultural industry as a whole,” said James Moyer, director of WSU’s Agricultural Research Center. The level of collaboration and cooperation in the WSU testing from Pacific Northwest universities and major industry partners was unprecedented and reflects the common interest and goal of determining whether the genetically modified wheat discovered in Oregon was an isolated case or if the industry had a larger problem. WSU’s data clearly suggests this was an isolated case, Moyer said. “Although WSU is not conducting research on wheat with the same properties as the variety found in Oregon, any unusual or unauthorized plant quality in the supply chain warrants a thorough assessment by all participants to maintain the confidence of Washington trading partners and consumers,” he said.


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6 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

US emerges as global dairy market competitor (Rabobank) The United States dairy industry is turning its attention outside its own borders and could emerge as a significant competitor to New Zealand in international export markets, a global dairy expert has cautioned. During a visit to New Zealand, Rabobank’s New York-based global dairy strategist Tim Hunt told local producers the United States, long focused on its own domestic market, was reorienting towards the global market place, attracted by the allure of better returns across some product categories. Until recent times, the entire US dairy industry had been dedicated to servicing its own lucrative and growing domestic market, with countries like New Zealand trying to gain access through bi-lateral trade agreements. “Historically, the US dairy industry lived in a fortress,” Hunt said. “It had a very large, affluent domestic market, which grew strongly and had very high prices. It was protected from the international market by high tariff barriers and had government support. “But US dairy market growth has slowed in recent years, while the commodity price boom has seen international prices rise above domestic US market prices, making export returns more alluring for US dairy players.” This, in effect, was turning the US from ‘the hunted to the hunter’ as its dairy industry sought to compete in the more attractive global marketplace, Hunt said.

“The US dairy industry is becoming increasingly cost competitive in export markets due to a combination of its largescale farm operations, easing feed costs and a lower US dollar, while it is also beginning to align products to suit the global market,” he said. Hunt said US dairy exports had already begun to steadily grow as a result, with, for example, milk powder exports increasing from approximately 300,000 tonnes in 2007 to 500,000 tonnes in 2012, and cheese exports going from approximately 100,000 tonnes to more than 250,000 tonnes in the same period. But Hunt said it was not all smooth sailing for the US as they reoriented towards world markets, with a number of obstacles to overcome. “With the entire US dairy industry having developed to service the domestic market, they are not aligned to the requirements of exporting dairy,” he said. “Essentially, they have the wrong plants and they make the wrong products for global market exports. In addition, US regulation makes exporting hard for the industry.” And there are also market access and customer relationship issues, Hunt said. “The US dairy industry doesn’t have good access to several important markets and they also have relatively weak relationships with offshore customers,” he said. However, progress is being made towards the US becoming a better exporter. “Plants are being tweaked to make export products and new plants are be-

ing built to service export markets,” Hunt said. “Market access is improving and relationships with offshore customers are being strengthened.” And with New Zealand largely having lost its cost of production advantage in world dairy markets, it will be increasingly likely to compete head-to-head with the United States in coming years, Hunt warned. “Maintaining New Zealand’s edge in post-farmgate processing and marketing will be crucial to sustaining returns on farm,” he said.

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october 11, 2013

valley farmer - harvest edition

Daily Sun News - 7

Consumers want to learn about agriculture at fairs (Michigan State University Extension) For many people, the fair is the only time a family sees a farm animal. While the fair experience is not the same as being on a farm for a firsthand look at food production, visitors can still talk to the person who cared for the animals, ask questions or read information on educational posters. It is an opportunity for the exhibitors to share information on how they managed their animal to produce a safe, nutritious and quality product. Exhibitors are representing the agriculture industry to the public and it is important for them to have knowledge and information to share. There are many sources of information, including those provided by local university extensions and various commodity groups. Even at the youth exhibitor level, consumers want to connect with who is producing the food they eat and the milk they drink. That conversation may leave a lasting impression on consumers and they will often share that information with others. For some fairgoers it will be the first time they see a cow being milked. It is an opportunity to talk about what is done on the farm to keep the cows healthy and the milk safe and wholesome. Common questions are how much an animal eats, what the animal is fed, how it is cared for each day and how old it is. These types of questions are great openers for youth or adults and set the stage to talk about how animals are cared for and what products they produce.

Some easy facts to remember are that animals are more efficient today. For example, in the 1940’s a dairy cow produced two gallons of milk each day, and in 2010 a dairy cow produced eight gallons per day. Beef exhibitors may want to share that beef farmers produce 1.4 times more beef with seven million less cattle. Additionally, 30 percent less land with 14 percent less water is required to produce each pound of beef today. These types of facts also make interesting signage for visitors to read and perhaps ask more questions about. Many of today’s consumers are interested in the health benefits of milk, eggs and meat, so exhibitors should be prepared to answer those questions or Se Habla Espanol fer them to other sources. Sharing information or doing displays on

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continued from page 5

3. Stocking density manipulations – Increasing stocking rates during the dusty season can reduce water-use requirements and extend the benefits of rainfall events. Cross-fencing with electric wire can increase stocking density in the pen while preserving bunk space per head.


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8 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

Apple harvesting technology gets boost from USDA grant by Laura Gjovaag

PROSSER – A skilled worker sits comfortably, monitoring readouts while mechanical arms reach into the depths of a tree to gently pluck apples to place in harvest bins. This vision of the future is closer to reality thanks to a $548,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant will help a team of WSU scientists in Prosser develop tree fruit harvesting technology that could reduce labor costs in orchards in as little as eight years, according to Manoj Karkee, team leader on

october 11, 2013

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the project. Karkee, an assistant professor at WSU, said the three-year project funded by the grant will develop a prototype apple harvesting system. The system will use cameras to locate and identify fruit and robotic arms to pick the fruit. “Harvesting is one of the operations in tree fruit industry that requires huge numbers of seasonal labor,” said Karkee. “Harvesting may cost as much as 40 percent of the total production cost of apples and cherries.” The system will reduce labor costs

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october 11, 2013

valley farmer - harvest edition

Daily Sun News - 9

TEAMWORK...with Ag & Industry Y

ears ago, the Port built an Industrial Waste Water Treatment System to provide ample capacity for food processing industries. Since then, logical expansions have occurred, resulting in economic development and job growth. Process water is treated and recycled, adding value and environmental stewardship. As a result, quality products such as milk, cheese, fruits and vegetables are made available. In 2014, a new anaerobic pretreatment system will complement existing Port infrastructure. This major expansion is driven by active industry growth. The new system is a planned, orderly expansion which will double treatment capacity and enhance system efficiency. Moving forward, the Port strives to build cooperation with agriculture and industry, a positive impact for our community, its workers and families. Port Operations Office and Waste Water Testing & Treatment Facility on Midvale Road will be the site of a New Anaerobic Pretreatment System

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10 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

Dandelions are just dandy The bane of lawns everywhere, the humble but pesky dandelion can actually be a farmer’s friend. That’s according to Merritt Mitchell Wajeeh, owner of Heavenly Hills Harvest near Sunnyside. During a tour earlier this year of her 100-acre spread on the site of a former dairy, Wajeeh said she lets a few dandelions sprout on her farm. They offer at least two benefits, says Wajeeh, who practices organic farming. She says dandelions help increase nutrients to other plants, a feeder if you will to draw good things out of the soil for crop growth.

Wajeeh, who sells her produce at the Prosser Farmers Market, says a second benefit is that when her chickens eat dandelions it improves the taste of their eggs. Accordingly, she allows a small patch of dandelions to grow near her chickens. It’s a win-win both for the birds and the breakfast plate. “They love dandelions,” she says. So, while you may not want dandelions dotting your yard, they could be just dandy for your farm.

One of the chickens on Merritt Mitchell Wajeeh’s farm looks to snack on a patch of dandelions. She says her birds love dandelions and the result is even better-tasting eggs.

A solitary dandelion pokes its head out from a patch of produce at Heavenly Hills Harvest, near Sunnyside. Farm owner Merritt Mitchell Wajeeh says dandelions can help draw nutrients from the soil and benefit other plants.

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

Apple continued from page 8

substantially by allowing a few skilled workers to do jobs that currently need large numbers of seasonal workers. With labor shortages recently causing losses and worries about the labor market in the future, Karkee said the new technology is likely to be embraced by orchardists if the team can reduce labor use by 20 to 30 percent of the current level. The project is not new. Karkee and other scientists have been working on mechanical harvest systems for more than three years with internal support through WSU, partial funding from the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and assistance from growers who provided access to their orchards for research efforts. The new grant, provided to Karkee and three colleagues, Karen Lewis, Changki Mo and Qin Zhang, will be aimed specifically at apple harvesting. According to Karkee, the accuracy of apple identification has been the bottleneck for automated harvesting. His team determined that newer layouts for apple orchards can improve identification to 95 percent. The project is currently working with orchards planted in a style that he refers to as “SNAP” orchards. The acronym stands for simple, narrow, accessible and productive. “Our study will be based on one or more of these most advanced commercially planted orchards in Washington,” said Karkee. “Along the way, we may find some variations in the orchard architecture that would further enhance the opportunity for automated apple harvesting.” The project funded by the grant is also examining the human picking process to

A rig similar to this will be used in orchards, which need to be planted using the “SNAP” method. SNAP stands for simple, narrow, accessible and productive, and is already used by some orchardists in the region.

photo courtesy Manoj Karkee/WSU

develop a gentle robotic hand that can harvest fruit without damaging it. Karkee said the current project aims to produce a working prototype at the end of the three years that can be field-tested in actual orchards. If the project can secure additional funding for comprehensive field evaluation, a commercial version of the technology may be ready in eight to 10 years. ‑ Laura Gjovaag can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

To determine how much pressure is required to pick an apple, sensors measure force and pressure during hand picking. Karkee said the machine will be able to achieve similar or better fruit handling. photo courtesy Manoj Karkee/WSU

october 11, 2013

valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 11

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

Expert offers grape growers advice on nutrient testing

by Jennie McGhan

PROSSER - Last month Dr. Joan Davenport of the Washington State University extension office in Prosser shared her expertise regarding nutrient testing for those attending a field day event. “It doesn’t matter whether you are collecting samples in wine or juice grape vineyards. The process is the same,” she said. Davenport said many people, when collecting tissue samples to determine the level of nutrients reaching plants, use the petiel. She said that is not the best practice. Instead, an entire leaf should be collected for lab analysis. “The bag you use for tissue samples matters,” Davenport also stated. She said plastic bags should not be used for tissue samples. Instead, a paper sack is best, giving the tissue an opportunity to begin the drying process. Tissue samples also do not need to be placed in a cooler. “The best time to sample is during veraison,” said Davenport. Veraison is the onset of ripening. She said sampling during this period

will give growers an idea regarding the nutrients that will be in a plant the next year. Davenport said California researchers advise tissue sampling at bloom, but local researchers have found veraison is better because most of the nutrients are directed to the grape clusters at bloom. With whole leaf samples, Davenport said it doesn’t matter what time of day a specimen is collected. She also said most of the nutrients in a plant can be found in the leaf. “Collect samples from both sides of the canopy,” she advised. Davenport said nutrient levels can vary from one side of a canopy to the next. Also important to remember is to collect the sample not at the tip of the plant, but approximately five leaves in. “Take the first mature leaf that hasn’t been hedged,” said Davenport. To obtain a “representative sample” of a vineyard, she said to collect at least 25 leaves per acre per block. “Do not collect any more than 300 samples for 10 acres or more,” she said. As a soil expert, Davenport had advice for testing nutrients via soil sampling as well. She said it is best to walk into the row middles and zig-zag as samples are obtained. The samples should be collected in a large container and mixed before being sealed in a plastic bag for the lab. Soil samples, unlike tissue samples, should be stored in a cooler so the lab can separate moist and dry samples. see “Advice” next page

Margaret McCoy, a student at the WSU Extension Service in Prosser, digs a soil sample amongst the grape vineyards during a viticulture and enology field day event.

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Dr. Joan Davenport of the WSU Extension Service in Prosser demonstrates where on a vine to obtain tissue samples, stating the first mature leaf back from the tip of the vine is best.

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Activist group sues over feeding operations by John Maday

Environmental and animal-rights groups want to force the EPA to collect detailed information on confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and intend to take the issue to court. The issue stems from a proposed rule EPA published in October 2011, which would have required CAFOs to submit extensive information to the EPA. During a public comment period, according to EPA, state regulatory agencies questioned the need for a federal law, as states already collect the information in question. In July 2012, EPA withdrew the proposed rule. In its withdrawal document, the agency states: “Instead, the EPA, where appropriate, will collect CAFO information using existing sources of information including state National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) programs, other regulations and other programs at the federal, state and local level. The EPA believes at this time, it is more appropriate to obtain CAFO information by working with federal, state and local partners instead of requiring CAFO information to be submitted pursuant to a rule.” Anti-CAFO activist groups, however, disagree. This summer, the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Integrity Project, Food & Water Watch, the Humane Society

of the United States, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement filed the suit in the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia, arguing that the agency’s withdrawal of the proposed rule lacks the rational basis required by law. Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS said: “The animal agriculture industry has benefited from EPA’s lack of information for decades, and has successfully opposed efforts to increase transparency. This certainly is not good for animals, humans or the environment; it is only good for massive industrialized farms.”  The EPA’s statement withdrawing the rule notes that EPA initially issued effluent guidelines and standards for feedlots in 1974, NPDES CAFO regulations in 1976 and revised NPDES permitting regulations in 2008. Earlier this year, EPA came under harsh criticism from agricultural groups after information on 80,000 livestock operations to activist groups Earth Justice, the Pew Charitable Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council in response to their Freedom of Information Act requests. The information EPA released included private material, including names, home addresses, personal telephone numbers and employee records, and EPA did not inform

Advice continued from page 12

“Soil samples are more complex because if you take enough samples you will have more soil than is needed,” said Davenport. That’s why mixing the samples is important. She said each plastic zippable bag submitted to the lab should contain approximately one cup of soil. When collecting the samples, Davenport said the depth of the sample taken should be 18 inches “…because that’s where the roots grow.” Collecting soil samples, said Davenport, is advisable at the same time tissue sam-

ples are collected. However, unlike with tissue samples, soil samples need not be collected on an annual basis. “Every three to five years is sufficient depending on how well your vineyards are doing.” Davenport also said growers should collect separate samples if they have different soils in a vineyard block. “Take at least 25 cores in even a small block,” she said, telling grape growers how to obtain the best results from nutrient sampling.

the ag community of the disclosure until after the fact. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order against the EPA, and in July, the agency announced it would hold off on re-

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october 11, 2013

WSU hop researchers learn advanced brewing techniques from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. PROSSER – A hop variety grown primarily in the Yakima Valley has not only put a California brewery on the map, it is now being used in research for its other beer making properties. When Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. founder Ken Grossman first used the Cascade hop from the Yakima Valley in his pale ale, he knew he was on to something. More than 30 years later, Washington State University researchers studying optimal brewing qualities of that same hop recently interned with the Sierra Nevada master brewers to hone their brewing skills and learn advanced brewing methods that are being pioneered by American craft brewers. Scientists at WSU’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) in Prosser are investigating the ways agronomic practices, including irrigation, plant nutrition and pest and disease management, affect hop yields and, just as important, the brewing quality of hops, according to Douglas Walsh, WSU professor and integrated pest management coordinator. “For craft brewers, the quality element is extremely important, since their customers truly appreciate the vital flavors that hops contribute to their brews,” Walsh said. “Craft brewers use hops in new and innovative ways. “Fortunately for Washington state hop growers,” he added, “hops are used in much

greater quantities per barrel in many craft brews than in the lager-type brews from traditional large-scale brewers. “We will be the research bridge between the brewer and Washington state hop growers in developing the production practices that help the growers deliver hops with the optimal properties desired by brewers,” he said. Business is on the rise for Washington state hop growers. On roughly 23,000 acres, the state produces more than 90 percent of U.S. hops and about 25 percent of the world supply, Walsh said. Washington ranks second only to Germany in global hop production. “Over 50 percent of the hops produced in Washington are exported and, as is generally known, hops are the key flavoring spice in the 51 billion gallons of beer consumed annually worldwide,” he said. Sierra Nevada is a flagship brewer of the American Craft Brewers Association, a major stakeholder group of WSU’s hop research program, Walsh said. But historical and geographical ties existed between the brewing company and central Washington long before this partnership began. According to the Sierra Nevada website, Grossman drove from the future home of Sierra Nevada in Chico, Calif., to Yakima in the late 1970s and persuaded hop brokers to see “WSU” next page

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sell him 100 pounds of “brewers cuts,” or samples sent to breweries to try before they purchase 200-pound bales. “On those early trips to Yakima for hops, Ken fell in love with the flavors and aromas of the Cascade hop,” the website explained. “The pure and intense citrus-pine flavors were like nothing else. That hop became one of the signatures of Sierra Nevada and, in turn, the hop that helped to define the West Coast style of brewing.” “Cascade as a hop variety has become one of the preferred hop varieties of the American Craft Brewers Association,” Walsh said. Coming soon: Cougar Crimson Ale This past March, Ruth Henderson, a postdoctoral researcher, and Dan Groenendale, a field research director of the IAREC’s environmental and agricultural entomology laboratory, spent three days in Chico learning about Sierra Nevada’s brewing techniques from the company’s master brewers. With the knowledge they acquired, Henderson and Groenendale will brew beers for sensory analysis trials by food scientist Carolyn Ross in Pullman and by American Craft Brewers Association members. In particular, Henderson said, she and Groenendale learned how to prevent oxidation in beer, which occurs when oxygen gets into beer after fermentation. This gives the beer a harsh, bitter aftertaste. Based on the Sierra Nevada brewers’ recommendations, the WSU research team has moved to a closed system, fermenting beer

Daily Sun News - 15

in sealed kegs and moving it from one container to another using pressurized carbon dioxide so that oxygen never touches it. “From now on, the only bitterness in our beer will come from the hops,” Henderson said. “The folks at Sierra Nevada are meticulous when it comes to the quality of their beer,” she said. “They make sure it comes out excellent every time. What we learned from them is how to treat our brews like they do theirs, but on our small scale and with the equipment we have on hand.”

Henderson and Groenendale also received advice on choosing combinations of grains and hops to make a tasty, balanced beer when creating a new recipe. Henderson is putting these ideas to the test now in her recipe for the new Cougar Crimson Ale. “It will be an India pale ale-style beer with a natural red coloration from the grains I am using to make it. No food coloring needed,” she said. “I will be hopping it with whole, dried hop cones grown and harvested right here at the Prosser research station. Here’s hoping my tasters enjoy it.” 

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

Sunnyside Division diverting less water by John Fannin

Advances such as enclosing laterals have enabled the Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District to reduce its diversion from the Yakima River by nearly 20 percent. That’s according to SVID’s district manager, Jim Trull, in a report presented late this summer to the board of directors. “There’s a downward trend due to conservation efforts,” Trull said. He noted in the year 2000 the Sunnyside Division diverted 434,431 acre-feet of water from the Yakima River. By contrast, 358,716 acre-feet were di-

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verted in 2012, a reduction of 75,715 acre feet, or 17 percent, from 2000’s total. One acre foot represents about 325,000 gallons of water. Trull says farmers have also played an important part in reducing the amount of irrigation water needed from the Yakima River. “The conversion from rill irrigation to sprinkler or drip has made a more efficient application system,” he told the board. Numbers show that back in 2000 rill accounted for 45 percent of all irrigation applications in the Sunnyside Division. By last year that percentage had dropped by

nearly half to 23 percent. Conversely, drip irrigation has seen a four-fold increase, from accounting for 2 percent of applications in 2000 to 8 percent last year. Further, permanent sprinkler applications jumped from 28 to 42 percent in that same time frame, supplanting rill as the most common form of irrigation application in the Sunnyside Division today. Trull added the rill irrigation method of using furrows and ditches to disperse water on a parcel can be efficient. But he adds the Yakima Valley’s sandy soil and sloping terrain make it less conducive for rill

applications. “This isn’t the table top land like you see in some parts of California,” he says. SVID’s growing network of enclosed laterals has made it more feasible for growers to turn to sprinkler and drip methods. Trull adds that low-interest state revolving fund loans issued 15 years ago – as well as those from the Soil Conservation Service - make it financially reasonable for farmers to make the switch to more efficient irrigation systems. - John Fannin can be reached at or at 837-4500.

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News

Tomas Mariscal, 12, and Pedro Venegas, 12, (L-R) test for minerals in the water to ensure the Yakima River water is clean from unnatural elements.

Local students helping with restoration of ag lands bordering river Area students last spring learned the importance of water quality and got down and dirty with efforts of restoring the riparian areas of the Yakima River. The Yakima River exceeds water quality standards for temperature, sediment and pollutants, according to Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group officials. Much of the riparian corridor is utilized for agriculture, but there is an increase in the number of residential lawns. The Horse Heaven River Ranch Project was started with the idea to help protect water quality and involve area children in the restoration of 10 acres of pasture. This past March the owner of Horse Heaven River Ranch opened her farm to serve as an educational demonstration

site for natural buffers. Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group encourages land owners adjacent to local water bodies to learn how to improve the buffers between monoculture lawns, agricultural fields and water bodies. The 10 acres of Horse Heaven River Ranch, an organic vegetable farm near Granger, are within the Yakima River’s 100-year flood plain, and have traditionally been managed as pasture and for hay production. This area being restored stretches a length measuring 0.3 miles along the Yakima River. When it’s all said and done, the site will be adorned with conventional tillage and weeds will have been removed. Then the see “Students” next page

Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News

Seventh grader Maya Daniel, 12, of Granger holds up a vile of water that is beAmber Schlenker/Daily Sun News ing tested for water quality, Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program Dibefore students released rector Tiffany Bishop (R) reads water test results with salmon into the river. Granger middle schooler Jennifer Gonzalez.



Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News

Granger seventh grader Juan Isiordia caps the cup that his fish swims around in, right before it is released into the Yakima River.

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Students continued from page 18

area will be planted with native trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs. Local school children dedicated more than 2,500 hours to surveys and weeding, cultivation of native trees and shrubs, planting and post-project monitoring.  Riparian forests shade water bodies, intercept nonpoint source pollution and reduce sediment input. The restoration of riparian forest along the length of the Yakima River will dramatically improve water quality; this proj-

ect is an effort to move towards that objective. With the help of state and federal grants, nearly 500 area students identified native plants, learned about the importance of native vegetation for water quality and salmon productivity and how to become good land stewards. Students planted tree starts, released salmon into the river and learned how to identify plants, all to help with the effort of restoring the land near the river.

Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News

Last spring local students released salmon into the Yakima River, after the fish were hatched and grown, thanks to the Salmon in the Classroom project hosted by the Yakima Basin Environmental Education Program.

Amber Schlenker/Daily Sun News

Granger Middle School students (L-R) Marissa Bravo, 12, and Jennifer Guadarrama, 13, work as a team to plant tree starts as part of the restoration project at the Horse Heaven River Ranch near Granger.

Students from Sunnyside and Granger worked to plant tree starts as part of the restoration project.

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

Put your farm to bed

Benefits of raised-bed farming by John Fannin

A former dairy farm near Sunnyside has new life as Merritt Mitchell Wajeeh has turend the 100-acre spread on South Emerald Road into Heavenly Hills Harvest, a combination farm and teaching site with a focus on organic produce. This past spring she hosted a day-long training class on her property that covered several elements of raised-bed farming. She says the advantages are numerous, including greater control of unwanted weeds and pests as well as the capacity to raise more crops. The group of a dozen or so

students – including an intern working on the farm – saw that rasied bed farming isn’t just about piecing together four sections of wood. Wajeeh provided working displays of other examples of raised bed farming, such as old apple bins converted into a farming use. Also in use on the farm is the “cold frame” technique of raised bed farming that involves placing an old window over a square area crated from four hay bales. The effect combines to create a warm growing area for vegetation even during freezes. Speaking of overnight freezes, during the Lower Valley’s un-

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

A hold-over from its dairy days, a preserved red barn is a signature feature at Heavenly Hills Harvest, which offers training classes throughout the year. predictable weather in fall and spring, Wajeeh says raised bed farming makes irt easier to place a protective covering over plants to ward off frost damage. She says raised beds should optimal-

ly be no wider than four feet so that you can tend to the entire bed area from one side without having to walk around it. Wajeeh also notes it doesn’t take much to get going once you set up the boundaries of your raised beds. On her farm, Wajeeh lines the bottom of the bed with simple cardboard, then covers it with a mix that includes top soil

and compost. She says the cardboard is a win-win because it not only helps to keep out unwanted weeds as you establish the raised beds, but in addition, “worms love cardboard.” Worms, Wajeeh notes, are a welcome, healthy sign for your soil. see “Farm” page 22

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

Merritt Mitchell Wajeeh of Heavenly Hills Harvest near Sunnyside shows how simple PVC pipe placed ahead of time can make it quick and easy to place coverings over raised beds and protect them from extreme heat and cold.

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valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 21

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22 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013



continued from page 20

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Wajeeh explained to the class that raised beds can thrive with vegetables and herbs or fruits planted together in the same bunch. On her farm you’ll find strawberries and onions growing in one raised bed, or chamomile and chives together in another. She says combining fruits and vegetables and herbs is a better way to attract bees that pollinate the plants. Once your veggies and fruits are done for the year, Wajeeh encourages growers


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continued from page 22

to let their plants go to seed. She says you’ll get beautiful flowers – some of which can be sued for cooking – as well as a harvest of seeds. Ultimately, raised bed farming is about letting nature take its course, whether it’s cardboard attracting works to improve your soil or enjoying the year-round cycle of plant life. Wajeeh says her farm isn’t

Keep raised beds to no more than fourfeet wide to make it more accessible for planting seeds and, later, tending to your produce.

about just producing good, organically sound produce. It’s sharing that natural farm experience with others. “We’re trying to demonstrate that sustainable farming is possible and practical,” she says. - John Fannin can be reached at or at 837-4500.

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

A trick to attract more pollinators to your raised bed is to mix fruit and vegetable and herb plants together in the same bunch. The end result of raised bed farming is delicious food, such as this mintflavored lemonade and antipasta for a cool, refreshing lunch. John Fannin/Daily Sun News

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John Fannin/Daily Sun News

An old aluminum-framed window is used to create a “cold frame” technique of essentially making a small hot house to protect plants from extreme chill. Note that only window frames without lead paint should be used. In addition, cement blocks can take the place of hay bales.

John Fannin/Daily Sun News

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24 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition

Funding for ag research plays vital role in 2050 population challenge by Brett Wessler

Investment in agricultural research has a high return on investment and is necessary for a solution to feeding a growing world population on limited resources, so why is Farm Bill funding for research and development shrinking? Julian Alston, agricultural and resource economics professor at the University of California-Davis, spoke about the challenge to provide safe, affordable food for a world population expected to reach 8.9 billion by 2050 during the 2013 Congressional Assistants Tour, hosted by K-State Research and Extension in August. While the growing population expectation is a primary concern for producers, Alston raised additional concerns of competing demands for land and water, competing demands with biofuels, a changing climate and co-evolving pests and diseases. The good news is history shows agricultural research has a high success rate in finding solutions, but the funding must be available. Looking from a national standpoint, Alston says the U.S. is decreasing agricultural research funding while China, Brazil, India and other countries are producing more food, more efficiently. If this trend continues, the U.S. could become an importer of food, dependant on other countries. A recent version of the Farm Bill only budgets $3 billion for agricultural research out of the $150 billion total budget. Based on findings from a book co-authored by Alston in 2010, every dollar invested in U.S. agricultural research yields a return of about $33. “That’s a fantastically good investment,” Alston said. “There’s nothing I know that is as good an investment as that. “It’s not just a monetary payoff, but in addition to that, it’s an investment in preserving resources. It’s assuring food security of the world. It’s assuring competitiveness of American farmers in a world where other countries are trying very hard to do better than we are.” Alston says more people need to lobby for additional funding in agricultural research for the U.S. to remain competitive. Funding is shrinking because the investment payoff takes over two decades. Still, Alston is rallying for funding in the Farm Bill to double to $6 billion in addition to private research.

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

Young herdsman growing top grade Angus by Jennie McGhan

Much of the Yakima Valley’s cattle industry is dairy farming…but not for Cameron Schutt. This 2010 Sunnyside High School graduate is busy breeding Angus cattle. Schutt said he grew up in the cattle industry. His father owns a feedlot and a few years back stopped breeding cows. “I missed calving season,” said the younger Schutt. He said he began purchasing his own stock after graduating from high school. About a year later he heard Dean Stokes might be interested in selling an Angus herd. “Dean had been raising Angus for 30 years,” said Schutt, stating he approached Stokes’ son about the possibility of purchasing the herd. Schutt purchased the cattle and Stokes allowed him to lease the land on which they had been raised. “This has been a cattle operation for 30 years…keeping them here gives Dean the opportunity to continue enjoying the cows,” Schutt said of the deal. Schutt has been slowly building the herd. He said he expects to have 30 head this year. He keeps the newborn heifers for replacement cows and is raising the cattle for breeding stock. The bulls, said Schutt, often are sold to feedlots. He does have one he uses as a back-up to artificial insemination. The Angus are registered and Schutt Angus Farm recently became a member of the American Angus Association.

Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News

Cattle herdsman Cameron Schutt estimates he will have 100 head of Angus in the next three years. He hopes to have a large enough herd for his own production sale in the next 10 years. Schutt is hoping to build a strong herd and plans to host his own production sale in the next 10 years.

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To accomplish that, he said, he will need approximately 150 head of cattle. “I believe I will be close to 100 in the next

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28 - Daily Sun News

valley farmer - harvest edition


october 11, 2013


continued from page 26

Red Angus and Black Angus cross-bred cattle for commercial stock. Those cattle, said Schutt, are sold to feedlots and eventually become dinner. He keeps busy with his herd, as well as working at his father’s feedlot and farming operation. Schutt said the best part of growing one’s own herd is calving season. “It is a lot of work. I have to weigh each calf because they are registered,” he said. Breeding Angus cattle takes a lot of knowledge, too. Schutt said he has to look through registration information on the Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News bulls used for breeding Twin heifers were recently born, adding to the breeding his heifers. He chooses stock of Schutt Angus Farm. the semen of bulls with a low birth weight, but heavy growth rate for various reasons. “I breed the cows to bulls with a low birth weight so the cows can give birth to calves unassisted,” said Schutt. He said knowing the growth rate of the bulls helps to breed cattle that will grow to a premium weight for “…top grade Angus.” Schutt said a breeder also looks at the docile rating of each bull that is used for breeding purposes. “Yes, they even rate them based on how docile they are,” he laughed. He said it is important to know the timing when one breeds the stock. He likes to time the calving season for late summer/early fall. Schutt said his back-up bull was purchased in Montana and any bulls from this year will become sire stock. “It’s challenging, but I really love Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News it,” he said of the work involved in These two registered Angus heifers gave birth breeding cattle. this past summer. They were bred to the same ‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at registered bull for quality breeding stock, adding 509-837-4500, or email JMcGhan@ to the Schutt Angus Farm herd.





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october 11, 2013

USDA invites comment on climate change report by John Maday

The USDA’s climate change program office last month released a draft report outlining scientific methods for measuring greenhouse gas emissions – and carbon storage – on entities such as farms and ranches. The report, titled “Science-Based Methods for Entity-Scale Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks from Agriculture and Forestry Practices,” is available online and open for public comment. The objective of the report is to “create a standard set of greenhouse gas estimation methods for use by USDA, landowners and other stakeholders to assist them in evaluating the GHG (greenhouse gas) impacts of their management decisions.” The methods presented in the report address greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration for the entire entity or operation, and also provide the opportunity to assess individual practices or management decisions.”   Thirty-eight scientists from across academia, USDA and the federal government, experts in green house gasses, estimation in the cropland, grazing land, livestock and forest management sectors contributed to the report, which underwent technical review by an additional 29 scientists. Much of the report is highly technical, but it includes extensive reviews of research on

the sources of greenhouse gas emissions on farms and ranches, variables involved in emission levels and various methods for measuring emissions at the farm or ranch level. The information is of interest to producers and industry stakeholders in that the recommended methods could come into play on agricultural operations. The authors state “this report will be used within the Department and by farmers, ranchers, and forest‐land owners,and will be made publicly available.” Specific potential uses of the methods include aiding: - Landowners and other stakeholders in quantifying increases and decreases in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration associated with changes in land management; - USDA in assessing the emissions and carbon sequestration increases and decreases resulting from current and future conservation programs and practices; and - USDA and others in evaluating and improving national and regional GHG inventory efforts. Read the full report at oce/climate_change/estimation.htm. Public comments on the plan can be made until Oct. 11 at and referencing #USDA-2013-0003.

- John Maday is managing editor of Drovers CattleNetwork

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valley farmer - harvest edition Daily Sun News - 31

Don’t take water for granted (American Farm Bureau) It’s natural to take it for granted, but water is something no one – whether residing in a bustling city or a small rural community – can live without. Americans are the largest water users, per capita, in the world. In terms of groundwater, we use 79.6 billion gallons per day. That’s the equivalent of 2,923 12-oz. cans for every man, woman and child in the nation. Agricultural irrigation is the largest user of groundwater in America at 53.5 billion gallons a day followed by public use via public water systems or private household wells (combined total of 18.3 billion gallons per day). Greater efficiency in either of these areas can lead to considerable savings. Research on water-efficient and droughtresistant crops continues to be an important focus at bio-science companies and universities, with the goal of developing plant varieties capable of producing high yields despite reduced water conditions. As crops that can flourish on less water become readily available to farmers, the demand for water for irrigation will decline. Another way of looking at it is that as agriculture becomes increasingly efficient, more food, fuel and fiber can be produced on less land. At the household level, the greatest amount of water used inside the home occurs in the bathroom. The remainder of indoor wa-

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valley farmer - harvest edition

october 11, 2013

Valley farmer harvest edition