Agriculture + Viticulture

Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business’ full-color, glossy magazine Focus: Agriculture + Viticulture takes a closer look at how our region serves as the powerhouse that drives our state’s agriculture and viticulture industries. This magazine is published in the spring.

Farm at Sunset, South Ritzville, Route 261, S.E. Washington

Politics, weather and inflation put the squeeze on Washington ag

Pam Lewison is of two minds when winter gives way to spring. She’s thrilled by the sweet smell of freshly plowed fields, the green fuzz in the orchards, the newborn livestock. She’s less thrilled by the daunting challenges facing Washington agriculture in 2022. The state’s 35,300 farms and ranches collectively raise more than 300 products.…

Tractor cultivating field at spring

From heat domes to supply chain woes, state agriculture weathers a challenging year

By Derek Sandison When it comes to growing food, it all starts with the weather. No doubt, the weather is having a substantial impact on agriculture of late. In 2021, the lack of spring rains and low soil moisture resulted in difficult growing conditions for dryland agriculture, leading to a reduction in wheat yields of…

The Burn of Columbia Valley is one of three new American Viticultural Areas approved in Washington in 2021. There are now 19 AVAs in Washington.(Courtesy Ste. Michelle Wine Estates)

Grape growers face a future altered by Covid, weather, smoke

By Mary Coffman Like all agricultural producers in the state, Washington’s wine grape growers have faced myriad challenges since the onset of the pandemic. Tasting room closures, hot temperatures, wildfires, inflation. “It won’t go back to what the market looked like prior to Covid,” said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Wine Growers Association.…

Container ships dock at the Port of Seattle in the shadow of the Space Needle. More containers left the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma empty in 2021 than full. For Washington exporters, lack of access to oceangoing vessels is a significant barrier to serving their overseas customers. (Courtesy Port of Seattle)

Value of ag exports is up, but there’s a hitch

Washington state saw the value of agriculture exports increase by more than $1 billion in 2021. There’s a big asterisk tied to the impressive $7.7 billion figure for agricultural products originating in Washington. “Be clear that while values are up, volumes are predominantly down,” said Rianne Perry, manager for international marketing at the Washington State…

Great harvest of ripe red cherries on a tree branch. Selective f

Growers report good volumes despite chilly spring

It’s hard to say how 2022 will play out for Washington’s cherry growers. “It’s always a weather-vulnerable crop, and there are many ways the cherry crop can be sabotaged by weather,” said Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association. “The joke is that cherry growers don’t have to travel to Las Vegas…

Courtesy Washington State Potato Commission

‘Perfect growing season’ is on potato farmers’ wish lists

So many variables can send farmers’ careful preparations sideways. It’s been a common refrain this spring among leaders at many of the state’s commodity groups. Shipping delays affecting the export market. Inflation gobbling up profitability. The war in Ukraine creating market instability. Unpredictable and unseasonable weather. Despite the challenges, potato growers are ready to produce…