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.

Washington posted a modest increase in agricultural exports in 2019 even with trade wars and other challenges. The Covid-19 crisis poses a new set of challenges in 2020 to a sector that is second only to airplanes for export activity. (Photo courtesy state Department of Agriculture)

To market: Exporters turn to new trade agreements, Zoom

Washington’s agricultural exporters faced brutal headwinds in 2019 and they are facing them again in 2020. Trade wars, retaliatory tariffs targeting the state’s most iconic crops and a new Pacific Rim trade alliance that didn’t include the U.S. marred the 2019 season, driving producers to seek new markets in Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, among…

Photo courtesy James Michael/Northwest Cherry Growers

Cherry picked: Growers worry about finding enough workers

Covid-19 could hurt southeast Washington’s cherry crop by limiting the number of fruit pickers allowed in orchards. The fickle crop is healthy, delicious and highly profitable, but a litany of factors can threaten its success. If weather cooperates and diseases are kept at bay, the fruit must be picked, packed, shipped, stocked and bought before…

Photo courtesy Washington Apple Commission

A big bite: $3B apple industry is the MVP of Washington ag

The Washington apple industry has had a challenging year. Retaliatory tariffs. Labor shortages. And now a pandemic that has contributed to a slowdown in the supply chain. On the other hand, growers of Washington’s top agricultural product produced another large crop featuring a new star — the Cosmic Crisp, a new variety that is quickly…

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…

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