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Agriculture 2016 In conjunction with the 81st Okanogan County Horticulture Association annual meeting A supplement to The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle • February 3, 2016


Page 2 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Agriculture 2016

Index Growers hear about growing, pests and more .............................................3 Slate of vendors scheduled for trade show ..................................................5 2015 brought strong prices, good quality apple crop ...................................6 Orchardists, ranchers hit hard by fires .........................................................8 Marijuana: Washington’s growing crop .......................................................11 Wool Co-Op pursuing fiber mill dreams......................................................13 Hard cider making emergence in old market..............................................14 Agriculture research gets a boost...............................................................17 Methow Valley home to two hard cideries ..................................................18

Meeting at a glance Okanogan County Horticulture Association 81st annual meeting Feb. 4, Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex 9-9:45 a.m. 9:45-10:15 a.m. 10:15-10:30 a.m. 10:30-10:45 a.m. 10:45-11:10 a.m. 11:10-11:30 a.m. 11:30-11:55 a.m. 11:55 a.m. to noon Noon to 1 p.m. 1-1:30 p.m. 1:30-2 p.m. 2-2:30 p.m. 2:30-3 p.m.

Market update panel discussion New tree fruit extension specialist introduction; “Soil Quality Basics.” • Tianna DuPont, Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center Coffee break “Little Cherry Virus” • Tim Smith, WSU Extension “Detecting and Managing Little Cherry Virus” • Andrea Bixby Brosi, WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center “Economics of Little Cherry Management Options” • Karina Gallardo, WSU Puyallup Detecting and managing little cherry discussion Elections and business meeting Lunch “Insect Updates: Spotted Wing Drosophila” • Andrea Bixby Brosi, WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center “WSU Decision Aid System Updates 2016” • Ute Chambers, DAS manager and educator, WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center “Codling Moth Resistance Management” • Jay Brunner, WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center “So You are Going to Go Organic” • Jeff Collins, Washington Department of Agriculture

Dee Camp/The Chronicle

Apple blossom rests in the sunshine.

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Agriculture 2016 © 2016 The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle Owned and Operated by Eagle Newspapers Inc. Teresa Myers, publisher and advertising manager Chris Thew, managing editor P.O. Box 553, Omak, WA 98841 509-826-1110 • 800-572-3446 • 509-826-5819 fax www.omakchronicle.com Cover photos: (Clockwise from top left) Cheryl Schweizer/Special to The Chronicle; Dee Camp/The Chronicle; Dee Camp; Bob Grandy/ Special to The Chronicle

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The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle — Page 3

Agriculture 2016

Growers hear about growing, pests and more Horticulture group’s 81st annual meeting planned for Feb. 4 By Dee Camp The Chronicle OKANOGAN — Orchardists and others in the tree fruit industry can learn about growing, pest management and other topics during the 81st Okanogan County Horticultural Association meeting Feb. 4. The event DuPont starts at 9 a.m. in the Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex, 175 Rodeo Trail. Registration starts at 8 a.m.; a registration fee will be charged at the door. Smith Coffee and doughnuts will be offered to start the day. Co-hosts for the meeting are the horticultural association and Washington State University

Extension. The meeting gets under way at 9 a.m. with a market update panel discussion. At 9:45 a.m., new Tree Fruit Extension Specialist Tianna DuPont will be introduced. She will talk about soil quality basics. DuPont succeeds Tim Smith, who retired, at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee. DuPont, who grew up near Issaquah, previously was an extension educator at Pennsylvania State University. She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Whitman College in Walla Walla, and worked for several years on farms in Oregon, Pennsylvania and New York, and served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia. She has a master’s degree in integrated pest management from the University of CaliforniaDavis. She has worked on pest management, soil health, cover crops in vegetable and berry production, and has work with organic and beginning farmers. DuPont started in her new position in November 2015. A coffee break will follow at 10:15, with the group reconvening at 10:30 a.m. to talk about little cherry virus. Smith, still representing WSU Extension, will be the speaker. Little cherry virus, or disease, is caused by one or more of three pathogens known to occur in the state. Infected trees produce cherries of small size, and poor

color and flavor. Such fruit is unmarketable, according to the research center. The disease became a statewide problem in 2010 and has since resulted in unpicked limbs and Bixby-Brosi trees, tree removal and even removal. While the amount of infected acreage is unknown, the disease has been verified in commercial sweet cherry Gallardo orchards in Okanogan, Douglas, Chelan, Grant, Yakima and Benton

counties. The disease is spread from tree to tree by apple and grape mealybugs, both of which can be found in sweet cherry orchards in north central Washington. It also can be transmitted by all types of grafting; some species of ornamental or wild flowering cherries can be symptomless carriers of one type of the disease, according to the research center. Andrea Bixby-Brosi, also with the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, will stay with

the topic at 10:45 a.m. when she talks about detecting and managing little cherry virus. Karina Gallardo, with WSU’s Puyallup office, will talk about the economics of little cherry management options at 11:10 a.m., and a discussion on detecting and managing the disease will follow at 11:30 a.m. Association elections and a business meeting will follow at 11:55 a.m., with a lunch break

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Meeting From Page 3 wrapping up the first portion of the day. Lunch will be available on site. The meeting will reconvene at 1 p.m. for updates on problem insects. BixbyBrosi will talk about spotted wing Chambers drosophila. The pest, formally known as Drosophila suzukii, is an insect pest of economically valuable small fruit and tree fruit crops, according to Oregon State Brunner University. It’s been known in the Pacific Northwest since about 2009, and appears to be established in many fruit-growing regions around the country. They lay their eggs in developing and ripe fruit, destroying its commercial value. Ute Chambers will give an

Agriculture 2016

update on the WSU Decision Aid System at 1:30 p.m. Her session will include time for questions and answers. Chambers manages DAS, which is a Web-based platform designed to transfer timesensitive information to decision makers in the tree fruit industry, according to WSU. The system consists of 10 insect, four disease and two horticultural models, and implements models that estimate the status of the issue and provide management recommendations, including access to pesticide recommendations. DAS incorporates environment from WSU’s AgWeatherNet, forecasts from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Digital Forecast Database and other sources such as WSU’s Orchard Pest Management Online. A codling moth resistance management talk, followed by questions and answers, follows at 2 p.m. Jay Brunner of the research center will speak. According to an article by Smith for Chelan-Douglas County Extension, codling moth has been the key pest of apples in Washington since the early 1900s. Early treatments included lead-arsenate and DDT. Brunner, in an article for WSU Extension, wrote that codling moth originated in Asia

Minor. With exception of Japan and part of mainland Asia, it is found wherever apples are grown throughout temperate regions of the world. The moth’s larvae bore deep into fruit, making it unmarketable. It can produce up to five generations per year, depending on the climate. Jeff Collins of the state Department of Agriculture will wrap up the meeting with “So You are Going to Go Organic” at 2:30 p.m. His 20-minute talk, which touches on the time line,

common pitfalls and considerations for transitioning to organic, will be followed by a 10minute questionand-answer period. Three state pesticide education certification credits will be awarded to those attending the day’s programs.

Dee Camp/The Chronicle

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The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle — Page 5

Agriculture 2016

Slate of vendors scheduled for trade show 36 vendors set to be at annual trade show

-O’Connell Drilling and Supply, Brewster. -Okanogan Conservation District, Okanogan. -Okanogan County Noxious Weed Control Board, Okanogan. -Okanogan Truck and Tractor, Okanogan. -Pace International LLC, Wapato. -Pacific Biocontrol, Vancouver. -SHUR Farms, Colton, Calif.

The Chronicle OKANOGAN – Several dozen vendors are scheduled to display their products and services during the Okanogan County Horticultural Association trade show Feb. 4. Vendors will set up in the Agriplex at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds, 175 Rodeo Trail. Participants, as provided by association Secretary Dan McCarthy, include: -Airstrike Bird Control Inc., Mount Vernon. -Antles Pollen Supply, Wenatchee. -ApRecs, Wenatchee. -Bayer Cropscience. -Burrows Tractor, Wenatchee. -C&O Nursery, Wenatchee. -Cameron Nursery, Eltopia. -Cascade Wind Machine, Yakima. -Columbia Homes, Yakima. -Crowder Horticultural Services, Manson. -CSI Chemical, Naches. -DJ Repair, Manson.

-Sunrise Chevrolet, Omak. -Trece Inc. -Tree Connection, Dundee, Ore. -Tree Top, Cashmere. -Van Well Nursery, Wenatchee. -Washington Tractor, Okanogan. -Willow Drive Nursery, Ephrata. -Wilson Orchard Supply, Wenatchee. -WorkSource, Omak.

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Dee Camp/The Chronicle

Visitors learn about new products during the 2015 Okanogan County Horticulture Association trade show. -Dow AgroScience, Wenatchee. -Dupont, Spokane. -Exten-A-Day, Wenatchee. -JP’s Ladder Repair, East Wenatchee. -Miller Chemical and Fertilizer,

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Page 6 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Agriculture 2016

2015 brought strong prices, good quality apple crop By Dee Camp The Chronicle WENATCHEE — The 2015 apple crop is selling very well, with strong prices and good quality fruit. Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, said that’s a welcome scenario after the frenzy of last year’s record 142 million-box crop. This year’s crop is “a more manageable size,� at 117.139 million boxes, he said. Fryhover Smoke from last summer’s fires and the statewide drought didn’t affect the crop as a whole, although some localized areas may have seen some impacts. More of a concern was heat, with June and August suffering sweltering temperatures in the state’s apple-growing regions. “We don’t know how (the fruit) will survive in storage,� he said. “There’s a lot of variety and a lot of factors.�

“With the Department of drought and heat Agriculture conditions this Market News. year, overall Galas were in the quality depended $30-34.90 range, on orchard Cripps Pink $32location and water 36.90, Fuji $28supplies,� said Jon $30.90, Granny DeVaney, Smith $20-24.90 president of the and Golden Washington State Delicious $26Tree Fruit $28.90. Association. The number “These 88 refers to the problems most number of apples resulted in a that can be smaller overall packed in a crop than had standard-sized been forecast box. earlier in 2015 as About 97 impaired fruit was percent of the not picked or is Washington’s being sorted out in apples leave the packing, so that state, either for the product domestic or reaching Washington Apple Commission foreign markets, consumers Fryhover said. continues to be of Apples wait to be picked According to high quality,� he U.S. Department said. “This is reflected in apple around $24 per 40-pound box, of Agriculture’s Specialty Crops pricing, which is higher than this with the overall price for Red Market News, f.o.b. prices as of same time last year when Delicious at $18-$19 and Gala at Jan. 27 were $36-$38.90 for U.S. marketers were trying to move a $23. No. 1 size 70 Bartletts and $26Prices for size 88 extra-fancy $30.90 for d’Anjou. record apple crop during the port grade ranged from $16-$20.90 for strike/slowdowns.� The Northwest cherry crop of to $80-$85.90 for 18.5 million boxes was smaller than Earlier this month, the average Reds price of all apple varieties was Honeycrisp, according to the U.S. the 21.6 million boxes shipped in

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Agriculture 2016

Apples From Page 6 Prices are getting better. Better than last year.” Washington apples are shipped to more than 60 countries, with Mexico being No. 1 and Canada No. 2. Taiwan is No. 3, with Fujis very strong there, he said. The state’s apple industry just gained full varietal access to China, which is expected to be “an incredible market,” despite the fact that that country grows more than 40 percent of the world’s apples. “They really like Fuji,” Fryhover said. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, particularly Dubai, remain an integral part of the Washington export market despite ongoing upheaval in the Middle East. Some markets are off internationally, primarily because of the strength of the U.S. dollar, so the commission’s efforts are focused more on the domestic market this year, Fryhover said. Next year, he predicts a redoubled international effort because of an anticipated larger crop. Although it’s the dead of winter, with spring buds still months away, apple trees tend to be cyclic, with a small harvest followed by a larger one. He said he hopes the highs and lows will lessen over time, with more apple trees coming into bearing age. “There’s been a lot planted” in the past few years, he said. Growers are branching out from varieties that gained popularity and then declined.

Dee Camp/The Chronicle

Blossoms begin to show on apple trees south of Tonasket. In 2001, there was nary a Honeycrisp to be found. Now, it’s in the top half-dozen of apples grown in Washington, he said. Red Delicious remains the state’s No. 1 apple, in terms of volume produced, followed by Gala, although “Gala may overtake Reds next year,” Fryhover said. Internationally, the iconic Red Delicious remains No. 1, with the apple accounting for nearly 50 percent of the state’s exports. Granny Smith and Fuji are pretty even, behind Reds and Galas, with Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink rounding out the top tier. Among others slipping in

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numbers are Goldens, Jonagold, Braeburn and Cameo as newer varieties, bred for taste and texture, come on strong, Fryhover said.

“Club” varieties – apples grown by a small number of orchards with a single packer and marketer – are doing well. Also on the rise is Cosmic Crisp, a cross between Enterprise and Honeycrisp known during development as WA 38. The grower-friendly apple was developed by Washington State University offers good taste in the tart-sweet range, a firm and crisp texture and a red-purple color over a yellow-green background. It is slow to brown when cut, and maintains its texture and flavor in storage for more than a year, according to the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resources Sciences. The apple is under patent and available to all Washington growers, but not to those outside the state, Fryhover said. Washington growers concentrate their efforts on selling for the fresh and storage markets, but some fruit does end up going to processors for juice or other products.

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Page 8 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Agriculture 2016

Orchardists, ranchers hit hard by fires Full recovery will take years and have toll on county economy

Fryhover said firm figures on processing aren’t available until the end of the season because fruit originally destined for sale whole might end up being more suitable for processing. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Apple Processing Report for Jan. 21, Washington growers sent 113,165 tons of apples were sent to juicers in 2015, compared to 133,154 in 2014. Another

By Dee Camp The Chronicle OKANOGAN – Private groups and public agencies are working to help ranchers and orchardists affected by the 2015 wildfires, but they say full recovery will take years and will take an economic toll on Okanogan County. Shortly after fires raced across the county, mostly in August, residents and outsiders began stepping up to provide emergency livestock feed, temporary shelter and other help to Okanogan County’s agricultural community. The Okanogan Complex, Tunk Block and North Star fires blackened 522,920 acres. Fires burned from east of Oroville to southwest of Pateros and from Nespelem to Twisp – along with huge tracts in between. Figures from the Okanogan County Assessor’s Office show 98 single-family homes, 96 cabins, 23 detached garage/shop buildings and 93 various outbuildings burned, for a total assessed value loss to structures of $11.33 million. That doesn’t include damage to timber, rangeland, hay and other crops, or to farm machinery. Outer rows of a few orchards were singed. “The estimate is that it will take

Apples From Page 7

76,028 tons went to peelers in 2015, compared to 86,408 tons in 2014. As of Jan. 20, offerings to processors were moderate and prices were slightly higher, the report said. The f.o.b. packing house or receiving station per-ton 2015 price was $50-$70 per ton for Red Delicious, with a few at $80 per ton. Peelers were bringing $100-$120 per ton, with some varietals as high as $140. Cider varieties aren’t really a factor for the state since not many are grown, Fryhover said.

Brock Hires/The Chronicle

Flames rush down a hill behind homes and an orchard south of Tonasket during the 2015 Okanogan Complex Fire. three years, minimum, to begin recovery and five or more years for complete recovery” of agricultural damage, said Shauna Beeman, agriculture chairwoman for the Omak-Okanogan Long-Term Recovery Organization. “That does not count timber that was lost. That’ll be felt for years.” Private landowners, the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service all lost timber. Gov. Jay Inslee said 20-25 percent of tribal forest lands

burned and will “significantly reduce tribal revenue for the next 12 years with adverse effects expected within a year.” He also said an estimated

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Fires From Page 8 3,850 head of cattle, worth $7.7 million, were lost in the Okanogan County fires. Another 1,400 could starve without adequate feed. That could mean a $10.5 million revenue loss to producers, Inslee said last fall when seeking federal help for individuals and businesses affected by the fires. The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied that assistance. Beeman said agricultural fire losses were “massive” in Okanogan and Ferry counties, with cattle ranchers and mom-and-pop livestock operations suffering the most. Fencing was destroyed and there will be a lack of spring pasture as fire-damaged land recovers. Some ranchers lost springs, many of which were older and had wooden supports for pools. Displaced deer are feeding on orchard trees or joining cattle in remaining pastures or at feed stations. The long-term recovery organization is coordinating hay and feed donations for ranchers and small livestock operations in need, and is working on additional funding to help the smaller operations. A $500,000 grant to the Okanogan Conservation District allowed that agency to help dozens of ranchers. That grant, obtained through the Washington State Conservation Commission,

Brock Hires/The Chronicle

A heard of cattle head down the Conconully Highway in September morning after the town of Conconully was placed on a Level 3 (highest) fire evacuation notice. provided emergency feed to alleviate some of the immediate need for hay, said Conservation Planner Terri Williams. The fires burned both haystacks and range pastures, leaving many livestock operations with no feed for their animals during the fall of 2015 and the spring of 2016. There was an identified need of about $3 million total, she said. In the spring, the recovery organization plans to coordinate volunteers to help with cleanup and fence rebuilding, Beeman said. “Some programs are out there, but they fall short,” she said, adding that many government aid programs pay only a portion of the cost to rebuild a fence or barn, or make other repairs, so the

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landowner has to come up with the rest. “This is an unbudgeted expense” that often is not covered by insurance or is inadequately covered, she said. The recovery organization also is monitoring bills before the Legislature that would help with recovery. “We’re also working on ways to be better prepared for the next disaster,” whether it be fire, flood or something else, Beeman said. She said some cattle producers

The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle — Page 9 are selling down their herds in order to make ends meet. “They don’t really want to. I’m worried. That’s what supports our community,” she said. “The biggest need of agriculture producers now is sufficient pasturage for livestock between spring turnout 2016 and whenever the range pastures have recovered,” Williams said. “In some cases this may be as early as fall 2016, but it is more likely to be fall 2017 or later. “The range grasses will recover, but cannot be grazed until they have fully recovered, or the longterm health of the range and yield will be lost,” she said. “Hay and other feed sources may help necessary. Those losses will heavily impact the livestock industry in the

county.” Soil burn severity generally was patchy, except in some locations on the Colville Indian Reservation, “which bodes well for vegetative recovery,” Williams said. “The range condition was generally good before snowfall, and the snow cover should encourage quick recovery if it doesn’t melt so quickly that flooding and soil erosion occur.”alleviate some of that need, but some herd reduction may be necessary. Those losses will heavily impact the livestock industry in the county.” Soil burn severity generally was patchy, except in some locations on the Colville Indian Reservation, “which bodes well for vegetative

See Fires Page 10


Page 10 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Agriculture 2016

Fires From Page 9 Williams agreed that fencing is a big need on parcels that can be grazed and those that will recover quickly. The current reported need for fence, by fire event, is: -Carlton Complex (2014) – 210 miles, $2.1 million. -Okanogan Complex and others (2015) - 580 miles, $6.6 million. “This is a huge need that is very time-sensitive,” she said. Other needs are for irrigation and livestock water system repairs totaling at least $68,000, Williams said. So far, great help has come from the federal Farm Service Agency, Washington State Animal Response Team and the conservation district. The latter “has been amazing,” Beeman said. As with the Carlton Complex fire in 2014, the Okanogan Conservation District is responding to 2015 wildfires by offering landowners a variety of assistance. The district started by conducting an Interagency Burned Area Emergency Response assessment on the Okanogan Complex fire. Williams said the district’s overall response covered not only the Okanogan Complex and Tunk Block fires, but also some portions of the North Star Fire. The Nine Mile Fire near Oroville and the Twisp River Fire are considered part of the Okanogan Complex. The iBEAR assessment was a quick look by a multi-agency team at the severity and effects of the fires on state and private lands. It corresponds to a U.S. Forest Service BAER assessment on federal land. It documents the state of soil, vegetation, human and cultural resources for planning effective

Brock Hires/The Chronicle

A truck load of hay and grain is donated to area residents following the 2015 summer wildfires recovery actions and finding funding assistance, she said. The district also did an emergency watershed protection assessment and funding coordination, and is working closely with the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service “to assess the potential for erosion and flooding that may impact residences,” Williams said. An assessment team made preliminary determinations of risk based on the soil burn severity maps and landforms, then confirmed by visits to each site. Each at-risk property owner identified in the assessment will be contacted to choose whether to participate in building structure protections, such as large gravel berms, to protect their homes, she said. Funding has been requested at both the state and federal levels to cover the full cost of the actions for the property owner. District staff made more than

and its recovery. -Advice about natural resource recovery planning. -Help with applying for various funding assistance programs. -Referrals to other organizations and agencies as needed. District staff has requested funding from state, federal and private organizations to help, based on information collected on the site visits, Williams said. In addition to repairs and feed, the ag community – and county residents in general – face a high potential for flooding and soil erosion, she said.” That “may impact agriculture producers more than usual for several years to come, as soilholding vegetation returns,” she said. “Culvert work on private roads

and driveways could be done to reduce the effects on infrastructure; preliminary estimates are $245,000 on both (Carlton and Okanogan) fire areas.” Added to the mix is an ongoing need for noxious weed control in both fire areas. Current estimates are $530,000 for the next two years, Williams said. Beeman, who also got involved with Carlton Complex recovery, said she cares about the county and wants her children to be able to stay in the area. “Rural America has seen a huge decline in young people wanting to stay and be involved in agriculture,” she said. “There are better-paying jobs out there, but it’s also a lifestyle. You don’t live here because it’s a great place to make money.”

400 individual property site visits for people requesting funding assistance to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of fire on that sites. Site visits include: -Assessments of the post-fire condition of agricultural infrastructure (fences, irrigation, etc.). -Hazardous conditions (hazardous trees, soil erosion, flooding risk, etc.). -Assessments of the vegetation

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The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle — Page 11

Agriculture 2016

Marijuana: Washington’s growing crop Okanogan County is home to 50 growers, but more expected

Chris Thew/The Chronicle

Joseph Martinez works on the hand trimming line at CannaSol Farm’s facility near the Omak Airport.

By Chris Thew The Chronicle Whether you like it or not, marijuana is here – and the growing industry in Okanogan County is likely to get even bigger. Following the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, counties that historically have supported agriculture started closing their borders to keep marijuana production out. Quickly, the state’s footprint for pot production was being limited to large warehouses on the west side of the state and counties in the east that chose to do nothing. For sun growers – producers that grow outside – space was getting smaller and smaller. But Okanogan County left open the door — partly due to lobbying by locals that were considering growing the crop in the Okanogan Valley and willing to educate people on the possibilities of taxes that would benefit the region and the state. Jeremy Moberg, CEO of CannaSol Farms, located near the Omak Airport, was one of the early producers that saw the value of growing and quickly started dialog with the government. Currently, Moberg said that about 50 growers are calling Okanogan County home. “We are an unlikely county to have as many producers as we do,” Moberg said. But it is only going to increase, according to Moberg. Moberg says that the county has

a boom coming. Producers getting shut out of other counties are eyeing the Okanogan Valley as a place to grow their crops. “(Okanogan County is) ranked no. 3 (for number of producers), but we will overcome King County next month due to license holders moving,” Moberg said. “It’s happening and there has been a ton of investment.” While the amount of tax money received local is pretty low, Moberg said he has spent over a million dollars throughout the past year in Okanogan County, including $80,000 at Home Depot, $60,000 at Hamilton Farm Equipment, $80,000 on fencing and $100,000 on well drilling. He says that the opportunities

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Page 12 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Agriculture 2016

Marijuana plants wait for processing

Chris Thew/The Chronicle

CannaSol Farms worker Steve Nelson trims product before processing in a cutting machine.

Marijuana From Page 11 to open processing and testing facilities in the area to work with the current and incoming producers would assist the industry and make Okanogan County that much more attractive to the growers. Currently, producers must send their testing samples to labs in the Seattle area.

Moberg’s company processes the crop they grow (along with buying production from other growers in the area) and can then sell to retail stores across the state. No one can hold all three types of marijuana licenses: producer, processor and retail. However, as in Moberg’s case, people can obtain licenses to both produce and process. Moberg, who uses organic production standards (yet is not

allowed to call his product organic), would like to see the outdoor grows be the norm. In western Washington, most of the

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The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle — Page 13

Agriculture 2016

Wool Co-Op pursuing fiber mill dreams Hope to create sustainable jobs in Okanogan County

Fiber Festival set for May OKANOGAN — The North American Wool Co-op will present the third annual Okanogan Valley Fiber Festival on May 6 and 7 at the Okanogan County Fairgrounds, 175 Rodeo Trail Road. May 6 is Artisan’s Day where people can learn and expand their fiber arts skills with two and three hour workshops throughout the day. A vendor market is planned from noon to 5 p.m. Demonstrations are also planned.

By Brock Hires The Chronicle OROVILLE — They don’t make it like they use to. That, coupled with a notion to create sustainable jobs in northern Okanogan County is the basis why members of the North American Wool Co-Op are pursuing a dream of opening a fiber mill. “We’re getting closer minute by minute,” Co-Op spokeswoman Vicki Eberhart said of the progress of the Eco Fiber Mill, Inc. According to Eberhart, the group has a a vision different from most other fiber mills in the nation. The Eco Fiber Mill will be based on a corporate social responsibility model for business. Therefore, employees are stakeholders in the business and are the greatest asset of the business, according to Eberhart. Plans for the mill call for the production of roving, batting and felting, and making quilting and yarn products readily available for local and international markets. Woolen fibers include Alpaca, Angora, Buffalo, Cashmere, Llama, Mohair, Sheep, Silk and Yak. The group is also developing product mixes using plant based fibers. Eberhart said the mill will produce minimal waste, economical and ecological sustainability for the region and state, a desire to collaborate and leverage off existing businesses as a cooperative service. “We’re collaborating,” she said. And though there are many different types of mills and varieties of products they process she said the ultimate vision is to bring the milling process back the the area. “There’s all different types of mills,” she said. “90 percent of milling is done in China. The the dream is to bring it back here.” The group is currently working with the city of Oroville to work out the specifics of the mills and is researching equipment options to process 300-1,000 pounds of

See Wool Page 14

A fiber show, wine tastings and dinner is planned at 5 p.m. at 12 Tribes Resort Casino, 28968 US97, Omak. A free shuttle service is offered from the fairgrounds to the casino. May 7 is Marketplace Day with a full day of vendor showcases, demonstrations and exhibits by quilters, weavers, knitters, and such. There will be a “petting pen” for youngsters. For more information, see okfiberfest.org or email info@okfiberfest.org.

The Chronicle

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Oroville resident Betty Roberts spins wool at the Okanogan County Fair.

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Page 14 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Agriculture 2016

Hard cider making emergence in old market Washington State Magazine Winter 2015 Reprinted with permission YAKIMA — It’s canning day at Tieton Cider Works in Yakima. Tall, red cans of Rambling Route cider pass through a pasteurizing unit as they come off the conveyor belt of the mobile canning truck. Sold in four packs, the company’s first canned product is intended to reach the masses, perhaps even enticing craft beer drinkers with a moderately priced, portable cider. The label on a can of Rambling Route cider describes the journey apples made across the country to Washington: “When it reached the land that would be called Washington, the apple knew.” It knew it had found a home in the soils and climate of the Pacific Northwest. Today, cider has found a welcoming home here as well. From new cideries and orchards around the state to cider science at Washington State University, the fermented beverage has come back in a big way.

Wool From Page 13 wool at a time. “It’s very easy to go buy older machinery and star up a mill, but we’re seeing the problems with doing that,” she said. “This is not a mini mill, this is a real mill.” Eberhart said the goal is to produce 1940s quality fiber products. “There’s no reason that can’t happen,” she said of the U.S. being ranked as one of the top

beer writer Pete Brown. “It’s as if a cidery shock wave went around the world,” he writes, “a psychic pulse hitting the minds of discerning drinkers everywhere, and making them think, ‘Hmm. I want some cider.’” Cider has soared to the top as the fastest growing alcoholic beverage in the nation. Although cider accounts for less than 1

percent of the entire beer category, even the popular craft beer movement has not grown as fast. Compare craft beer’s growth of roughly 20 percent annually with cider’s steeper curve of 65 percent annually. But as with craft beer, Washington state is at the leading

See Cider Page 15

www.methowvalleyciderhouse.com

The Methow Valley Ciderhouse is one of several cideries statewide. Read the story about the Winthrop-based business on page 18. Cider is arguably the drink that built this nation. Not beer, not wine. Once upon a time, nearly every family in colonial America had a small cider press for making their own because cider was considered safer to drink than water. Wherever John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, went, he left a

trail of trees that would serve as homestead orchards for making cider. Cider prevailed as the beverage of choice in early America until the early temperance movement and then prohibition drove the final nails in its coffin. The current cider boom began only nine years ago, says British

five fiber producers and processors in the world. According to Eberhart, utilizing a certified sorting process all parts of the fleece are used and nothing is wasted. Various grades of fiber are then used to their best advantage, resulting in high quality products in every category. The fiber are not treated with harsh chemicals, as are most imported fiber products. “Anything over 23 microns is scratchy to the skin,” she said,

while anything under is soft to the touch, but not very durable. To create the equal balance of softness and strength, Eberhart said the mill hopes to produce grade 3 quality fibers. “Grade three is soft and strong,” she said.

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The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle — Page 15*

Agriculture 2016

Cider From Page 14 edge of the cider revolution that is sweeping the nation—both in production and consumption. With upwards of 30 cideries, Washington boasts the most in the United States. But there’s a hitch in the cider revolution. Washington leads the nation in apple production. It’s chock full of apple orchards, but few contain cider apple varieties. Cider apples, often referred to as “spitters” for the sour or bitter tannins they contain, are categorized as sweets, sharps, bittersharps and bittersweets. New Jersey-based cider writer Chris Lehault says this about the experience of eating one: “In essence, eating a bittersharp apple is a bit like sucking on a black tea bag soaked in lemon juice.” Once pressed into juice, fermented and blended just so, cider apples impart flavors unparalleled by everyday eating apples or dessert apples — the predominant source of most ciders today in the United States. Cider makers who want to produce an authentic, artisanal cider that appeals to an increasingly sophisticated palette can’t get enough locally grown cider apples. Planting a new business In 2008, Craig Campbell and his wife, Sharon, felt the “cidery shock wave” surface in their

Dee Camp/The Chronicle

Some varieties of pears can be used for cider, too, creating a refreshing beverage. eastern Washington orchards. They began experimenting with making cider from dessert apples grown in their 400-acre commercial fruit orchards. Despite naysayers who warned that cider apples required a maritime climate, Craig also planted a two-acre test orchard with 25 varieties of cider apples. “Everyone told me you can’t

grow cider apples in eastern Washington, in the Yakima Valley,” he says. “I just thought,

this is crazy, I can grow every other kind of fruit.” Now the Campbells grow cider

apples to supply their own commercial cidery, Tieton Cider Works. They’re leading the way in modern cider apple orchard management, and partnering with Washington State University researchers to help the industry meet the demand for a nation thirsty for local craft cider. Their two-acre experiment expanded into Cider View, a 30acre “high-density” cider orchard. With additional blocks of both apple and pear trees for cider, Cider View has become the largest cider orchard in the state. In fact, with 55 acres of cider apples and pears altogether, it’s one of the largest in the country. This year, Tieton Cider Works is producing the equivalent of 100,000 cases (160,000 gallons) in kegs, bottles and cans, but the Yakima facility has room to grow to 500,000 cases annually. “We were in early on this wave, but we had no notion about this thing taking off,” Sharon says. “We just wanted to try it. We thought if we could make 1,000 cases and sell it, that would be our business model. We blew past that in year three.”

See Cider Page 16

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Page 16 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Cider From Page 15 Raising sticks at Cider View Craig Campbell, a thirdgeneration farmer and a thirdgeneration WSU alumnus, grew up on his grandfather’s farm, the land he now farms near Tieton. After graduating with a degree in horticulture, his father encouraged him to leave the farm. “He urged me to go out and learn more about the whole fruit business,� he says. “He’s the one that really pushed me. Thank God he did that.� Craig headed to California, where his father’s wisdom paid off in two life-changing ways. The first was the start of his still successful fruit distribution business, a handy background for understanding cider distribution. The second was a blind date with the woman who would become his wife. “When I brought Sharon to see one of our family’s orchards near Pasco, she says, ‘Oh my God, we’re raising sticks,’� he said. What looked to Sharon like simply sticks in the ground was Craig’s passion — newly planted trees. The phrase stuck and became Craig’s license plate RAZNSTX. The Campbells’ cider orchard is the latest manifestation of Craig’s passion. The 30-acre block of cider apple trees sits on a plateau above the Naches River, a tributary to the Yakima River. Tightly planted rows of trees with names like Golden Russet, Harry Master Jersey and Yarlington Mill enjoy sweeping views of the river valley and mountains. In the spring of their third year, the trees are nearly in full bloom — more than mere sticks in the ground. In this modern, high-tech orchard the young

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Agriculture 2016

trees are planted three feet apart and trellised to support a 12-foot high central leader. The arrangement maximizes yield per acre. The uniform rows are wide enough for a tractor to roll through, carrying workers on a platform to prune or harvest without having to climb up and down ladders. Come fall 2016, Cider View will bear its first load of fruit, which must be harvested by hand. But the orchard is designed to accommodate mechanical harvesting, once the technology is available. Cider science Mechanical harvesting of cider apples is one of many cider research projects at the WSU Northwest Research and Extension Center in Mount Vernon. The orchard-to-glass research program, led by horticulturalist Carol Miles, is one of only four university-based programs in the United States. Though small compared to beer and wine science, Miles says WSU’s cider research program is the largest in the country. With most of Washington’s apples growing in places like Yakima and Wenatchee, western Washington may seem like an unlikely place for apple research. But Miles is quick to point out, “the San Juan Islands were the first place apples were grown in the state in the 1800s — long before irrigation water came to central Washington.� Cider research at WSU began in the maritime climate of Mount Vernon in 1979 when Bob Norton planted six cider apple varieties at the research center. Today, under the direction of Miles, a newly planted research orchard includes 64 English, French and old American varieties of cider

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apples. The research spans all aspects of orchard management as well as cider making, including sensory evaluation, marketing, and economic analysis in collaboration with specialists at the Pullman campus. Besides research, the center also offers cider education. Many Washington cider makers, including Sharon Campbell, have taken a cider-making course taught by British expert Peter Mitchell and offered by the center in partnership with the Northwest Agriculture Business Center and the Northwest Cider Association. Sharon Campbell, incidentally, helped start the association in 2010, and was president until last year. The center’s program also produced a first-of-its-kind manual for cider production and orchard management in the Pacific Northwest, written by Gary Moulton, former WSU tree fruit specialist and cider program leader. In the Tri-Cities, Thomas Henick-Kling, director of the WSU viticulture and enology program, is evaluating how that program might support the cider industry in Washington. He says that fermentation science and sensory evaluation for cider are nearly the same as for grape wine. Currently, students in the program can take electives in tree fruit production and most courses like plant pathology, entomology, soils and plant physiology would be appropriate for cider and wine science students alike. At Tieton Cider Works, head cider maker Marcus Robert, a fourth-generation orchardist who hails from the winemaking industry, prefers to hire people with a wine science background.

He worries that people who are eager to jump in to the cider industry won’t take the time to learn the art and science of it and risk producing bad ciders that could turn off uninitiated drinkers for good. “It’s really important that people know what they’re doing and are not just crossing their fingers,� Robert says. “It is a scientific field and it’s a scientific process that you have to repeat.� As part of a national research team including Virginia Tech, Cornell, Michigan State University and the University of Vermont, Miles is hopeful the U.S. Department of Agriculture will fund a robust proposal to boost orchard-to-glass cider research across the country.

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She also sees cider production as economic opportunity for agriculture in the state. “Many cider makers are currently importing cider apples from Europe and New Zealand. This is a lost opportunity for the United States,� she says. “I see no reason why Washington shouldn’t be a leading cider apple grower in the country.� Miles anticipates a day when cider apple varieties are grown in every part of the state. And in Tieton, the Campbells are proving that cider apples don’t require a maritime climate. Wherever cider apples are cultivated, they are ushering in the return of hard cider to the United States. And this time, cider could be here to stay.

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Agriculture 2016

The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle — Page 17

Agriculture research gets a boost WSU awards more than $1.7 million for specialty crop The Chronicle PULLMAN — Research on apples, pears and other crops got a boost last fall when Washington State University was awarded more than $1.7 million for specialty crop research. Those crops include tree fruit, grapes, berries, potatoes, onions, carrots and Christmas trees, the state Department of Agriculture said. WSU received grants for 10 of the 24 projects funded through the 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The total award for the state was $4.1 million. “This program, which is made possible by funding through the federal farm bill, is absolutely essential for WSU to support the specialty crop industries for which Washington is a leading producer,” said Jim Moyer, associate dean of research in the WSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. Washington ranks first in the nation for the production of apples, raspberries and pears and second for grapes, onions, carrots and potatoes. The WSU projects, lead investigators and award amounts include: -Cosmic Crisp: Training System and Orchard Management; Stefano Mussachi, Tree Fruit

Dee Camp/The Chronicle

The spring time brings bright colorful blossoms to the Okanogan Valley. Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee; $249,191. -Physiological Responses of Apple under Photoselective Hail Netting; Lee Kalcsits, Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, Wenatchee; $248,608. -Sliced Pears: A Novel Avenue for Pear Consumption in the U.S.; Amit Dhingra, Department of Horticulture, Pullman; $204,466. -Strengthening the Grapevine Supply Chain for Healthy Vineyards; Naidu Rayapati WSU IAREC, Prosser; $247,878. -Deep Sub-Surface MicroIrrigation to Increase Water Use Efficiency in Vineyards; Pete Jacoby, Department of Crop and

Soil Sciences, Pullman; $249,971. -Pre-Plant Management Techniques for Nematodes and Soilborne Raspberry Diseases; Lisa Wasko DeVetter, WSU NWREC, Mount Vernon; $141,274. -Developing Value-Added Products from Washington Grown Red Raspberries; Shyam Sablani, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Pullman; $91,878. -Improved Disease Control Strategies of Potato Powdery Scab; Kiwamu Tanaka, Department of Plant Pathology, Pullman; $236,127. -Identification, Distribution and Management of Needle Cast

Diseases on Noble Fir; Gary Chastagner, Puyallup Research and Extension Center; $104,624. -Evaluations of Arbuscular

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Page 18 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Agriculture 2016

Methow Valley home to two hard cideries Winthrop ciderhouse offers five flavors By Brock Hires The Chronicle WINTHROP – You pop the top, listen to it fizz then take a sip. As the cool, crisp and distinctively sweet taste runs down the back of your throat you wonder where, and how this refreshing drink came to life. “My wife Lynne and I bought 15

acres, two and a half-miles outside of Winthrop in 2004 with the intent of building two more homes on the property in addition to the residence that was already here,” said Richard J. Wasson who is the co-owner of Methow Valley Ciderhouse. “That changed in 2005 when I visited my daughter who was going to college in Salem, Oregon.” After reading an article in a sandwich shop, he met with Nick Gunn who is the owner of Wandering Angus Cidery just outside of Salem.

“I visited his Cidery and tasted his Cider which was very delicious,” Wasson said. “He encouraged me to enroll in a week long Cider making Class in Mt. Vernon at the Washington State Extension Service, which I did.” Wasson said the inspiration lead to what he describes as the “first ciderhouse and orchard in Eastern Washington set up for the sole reason of cider making for adult cider.” Wasson said at present he and Lynne grow 16 varieties of apples, pears and quince on 5-plus acres

with plans to extend another 1-3 acres for future production. “We hand craft five flavors of cider and perry from our 2,500 trees,” he said. “From English Bitter, to Honey Sweetened Cider, and Hopped Cider in between, we attempt to find the fine flavor zone for all Cider Sippers.’ This year the Wassons expect to produce, bottle and keg in excess of 2,000 gallons of some “serious sippin’ cider.” Looking to the future, Wasson said he is in the process of remodeling a building in

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Marijuana From Page 12 large producers have large warehouses growing marijuana. These producers have a huge draw on the electrical grid and are very environmentally unfriendly. A typical marijuana plant grown indoors takes the power equivalent of over 7 refrigerators. Besides the electrical draw, the large indoor operations treat their products with chemicals. Moberg said he gets by the need for pesticides with hands out on the fields tending to the crops. Moberg believes that when people who are environmentally conscious who smoke marijuana find out about the impact of the warehouse grows, they will make a switch to product that is grown in the great outdoors. “People are going to start choosing crops growing under the sun,” Moberg said. His sun grow operation employs about 18 people when they are just processing and shipping all the way up to 36 people when they are in full swing growing, processing and producing. People may think that Moberg just grows the pot, processes it, stores it and ships it, but that is far from reality. A regulation that sub lots are assigned to a specific store requires him to process right before an order goes out the door so that product isn’t sitting on the shelf waiting for a future order from the one customer specified. He hopes the legislature will address the labeling issue and work on getting the industry truly recognized as an agriculture industry so they can have the same protections that other crops receive.

downtown Winthrop that will soon serve as a new location for the Methow Valley Ciderhouse. Similarly in the next town over, the Sixknot Cider cidery rests on the banks of the Methow River near Twisp. Using only organic apples and no sulfites, preservatives or sugar, the cidery produces unique blends including Goldilocks, High Desert Dry, Gingerella and more including seasonal and special releases. The owners could not be reach for comment by Chronicle deadline.

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The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle — Page 19

Agriculture 2016

Investors put Washington Ag land at premium Outlook for 2016 will depend on elections, interest rates, world finance, weather

dry land is nil so producers are putting the land in the federal conservation reserve program. Prices are holding steady for row crop land, though, and landowners are instead hanging on to their property. Last year’s closure of the port in the Northwest region of the state that halted commodities The Chronicle shipping to the Pacific Rim is still OMAHA, Neb. — Irrigated having an impact on the area. farmland in Washington is “Growers dumped semi-loads averaging $10,000 per acre, with of apples into a ravine, because high-quality, pivot-irrigated land they were stuck at the port and being sought actively by investors. couldn’t ship them to China in A new report from Farmers time for the New Year, and they National Co., an agricultural couldn’t go back into storage. landowner Same with potatoes services company, and hay, but at least said available a new market land in the state developed for hay in “often will fall California,” Sayre into a bidding war said. and is snatched Cash rents have up quickly.” remained steady for Investment the past two to three firms are very years, as have ag active in the state, land values, which looking for are still perched at property to fill the peak they portfolios, the reached two years report said. ago. Those values They’re mostly continue to entice looking for row investors, who are crop land for not necessarily Farmers National competing growing carrots, with potatoes, onions, broker Flo Sayre local residents and hay or alfalfa. producers. “Washington “The investors growers raise are wanting a $2 more than 80 million or more types of crops, so investment. If it’s we have a very diverse ag less than that, they won’t touch it. landscape,” said Farmers National But locals can pick up a piece broker Flo Sayre, Pasco. “I receive priced at less than $2 million,” at least one call a day with Sayre said. “But I think the inquiries on new property up for outlook for 2016 will depend upon sale. Everyone wants high-end the elections, interest rates, pivoted irrigated land without international conflicts, the buildings and investors are financial world and the weather. seeking 500 acres or larger, but If capital gains change, that could that’s not how the land is laid out stifle the market. If California here. Most are in 150- to 230-acre doesn’t get rain, buyers will come tracts. Not all land is suited for to Washington.” pivots, either, as they follow the Irrigated farmland prices are contour of the land.” about the same as they were a year In the northeast part of ago, the company reported. Washington, land prices are Employee-owned Farmers dependent upon rainfall and, National Co. manages more than coupled with the decline in 4,850 farms on 2.1 million acres commodity prices, the returns for in 24 states.

Washington growers raise more than 80 types of crops, so we have a very diverse ag landscape.

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Page 20 — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle

Agriculture 2016

Conservation district tackles fire aftermath The Chronicle OKANOGAN – The Okanogan Conservation District stepped up to help farmers, ranchers and others in July 2014, while the Carlton Complex fire still burned out of control. District personnel have worked pretty much non-stop ever since, with the 2015 summer wildfires adding to the load. During the Carlton Complex response, the conservation district conducted a first-ever Burned Area Emergency Response evaluation on non-federal lands, with 16 agencies participating. It provided 300 landowners with technical and/or financial assistance in dealing with their damaged natural resources and agricultural infrastructure, and coordinated recovery open houses and workshops serving more than 100 participants. More than 6,000 plants were

Al Camp/The Chronicle

Flames from the 2014 Carlton Complex Fire nears an orchard. distributed to people in the fire area to help with replanting, and the district conducted erosion control reseeding for 35 landowners on 1,945 acres. The seed mix, applied by helicopter,

combined a quick-terminating, short-lived, sterile when hybrid along with native grass species. The Carlton fire area generally is showing good range recovery, and a few range pastures could be

grazed last fall, said Conservation Planner Terri Williams. However, some areas that were severely burned will not recover for at least several years. Those severely burned soils are primarily on U.S. Forest Service property. The agency joined with the Washington Conservation Corps for nine fencing projects to protect surface water quality from controlled livestock access, and installed 13 structures to protect homes at high risk of flooding and debris flows. It also managed funding to reimburse landowners for materials for deer fence, critical area and perimeter fence, and coordinated local work by the Washington Conservation Corps crews on approximately 10 miles of fence replacements. The agency obtained funding and helped coordinate weed control treatments of 2,220 acres (covering 63,000 parcel acres),

including biocontrol insects, commercial chemical applications, and chemical handed out to landowners. Species targeted included Scotch thistle, leafy spurge, hoary alyssum, diffuse knapweed and Dalmatian toadflax. For the various projects, the agency tapped funding from the Washington State Conservation Commission, state Department of Ecology, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Washington State Farm Bureau, Arbor Day Foundation, Washington State Nursery and Landscape Association and conservation district funds. The lightning-caused Carlton fire, which started July 14, 2014, burned across 256,108 acres and destroyed 237 homes and 53 cabins, plus barns and other outbuildings. It damaged timber, rangeland and crops, and killed livestock and wildlife.

Agriculture 2016  

A guide to agriculture in North Central Washington for 2016.

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