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.

Photo courtesy Save Family Farming

Hired help: Pandemic exacerbates ag labor shortage

The state of Washington is under pressure to enforce social distancing guidelines at farms and orchards, but farmers say they can’t find enough agricultural workers to hire, and social distancing requirements interfere with plans currently in place. “We might force people into housing conditions that are less safe. If someone comes from another state, will…

Photo courtesy Washington State Potato Commission.

Surplus spuds: Coronavirus upends potato industry

Demand for Mid-Columbia potatoes was growing every year — until coronavirus. Area potato growers specialize in varieties that taste great after freezing, while most Idaho potatoes wind up in the grocery store produce section. Southeast Washington potatoes head to processing facilities like those owned by Lamb Weston or the J.R. Simplot Co. “The majority of…

Courtesy USA Hops

Brewing storm: Hop growers pull back as beer drinking shifts

Growing conditions are strong on Washington hop farms but growers are curtailing expectations of modest growth as beer-drinking patterns shift and an entire industry is disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The unknowns mean 2020 will look a lot like 2019, when the National Agricultural Statistics Service said Washington growers produced about 82 million pounds of…

Dick Boushey, whose eponymous vineyard in the Yakima Valley is one of the most famous in the Washington wine industry, also is a leading grower of Concord and Niagara juice grapes. (Photo courtesy Richard Duval Images)

Concords rebound: Juice grape growers step up to meet demand

There is no glitz or glamour associated with Concord grape production in Washington state, but the industry is looking better now than in recent years. The reversal stems from growers removing vines, which means they are sending fewer grapes to processors for Concord juice and jelly. But that’s not the only reason for optimism in…

To offset the challenges presented with the sale of wheat, some farmers have begun a crop rotation with canola, which produces a vibrant yellow flower as it grows. (Photo by Karen Sowers)

Agriculture powerhouse: Crop value high amid trade threats

Persistent issues with international trade have been threatening Washington’s most successful crops. Ongoing trade issues with Asian markets and North American neighbors are “making farmers nervous,” said Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers. “We have to have trading partners,” she said. With $6.7 billion in food and agricultural products sent…