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AgWatch | Labels, GMOs, labor pain

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A Northern Fruit Co. apple crate label made it into the New Yorker magazine recently. The article, “All American: Questions of identity at the National Museum of the American Indian,” explores Native American images in commercial and popular culture. The circa 1940s Hi-Yu brand label, which belonged to Wenatchee’s Northern Fruit Co., features a Native American with a full headdress. The magazine article caption reads, “Images of Native Americans ossified in kitsch awakens complicated, living truths.”

GMO Arctic Fuji gets Canadian OK

Canada has joined the U.S. in approving the commercial sale of Arctic Fuji, Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc.’s third non-browning Arctic apple variety. The company, based in Summerland, B.C., issued a press release in January stating the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada had approved the genetically modified apples that have a trait that prevents browning even when apples are bitten, sliced or bruised. Arctic Fuji will join growing commercial orchards of Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples in spring 2018.

AndNowUKnow, a produce industry news website, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service approved commercial sale of the Arctic Fuji in September 2017 and the apples will be available commercially this fall in select U.S. cities.

The company has planted about 300 acres of apple orchards in the past two years, mostly in Washington, according to its website. See the article here.

Good Fruit Grower also has a good read on the company founder, Neal Carter. (http://www.goodfruit.com/the-gmo-apple/)

Labor pains

Washington State Fruit Association President Jon DeVaney was making the rounds in Washington, D.C., this past week to push for immigration reform.

It’s becoming more important year to year as the labor market tightens,” he said. “It’s good news that the economy is booming, but it makes it hard to find employees.”

Closer to home, the organization has been active in Olympia as well, backing Senate Bill 5689, called the “Keeping Washington Working Act,” which directs local law agencies to cooperate as little as possible with federal immigration enforcement officials. The bill is in response to fears that the Trump Administration will be more aggressive on enforcing immigration laws, which could be disastrous to the tree fruit industry. According to a story in the Feb. 6 Capital Press, the proposed bill is similar to one that went into effect in California.

Farm leadership opportunity

Tours of Wenatchee Valley agriculture and historic sites, along with workshops and a Saturday family game night are part of this year’s Washington Farm Bureau Leadership Conference, set for March 23-25 at the Wenatchee Convention Center. 

The farm bureau is an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization representing farm and ranch families.

Guest speaker is Mike Frank, who will talk about “8 Great Traits of Superstar Leaders.” Workshop topics range from public speaking skills and how to tell ag’s story to social media and bridging the generational divide.

The cost is $120 (or $100 if you register before Feb. 16). 

Funky fruit and more

Dealing with Funky Fruit” and other practical wine-making information is part of the March 30 Washington Advancements in Viticulture and Enology (WAVE) seminar at Tsillan Cellars in Chelan. The event runs from 9 to 2:30 p.m. For registration information, go to 

The morning program, designed for growers, will share recent research on grape powdery mildew resistance and new sprayer technologies. The afternoon session on funky fruit will share practical winemaking information to help wineries coax the best out of their fruit. The event is hosted by the Lake Chelan Wine Alliance, Washington State University and the Washington Wine Commission.

The event is one of three WAVE seminars in the works A March 15 event in Richland will cover managing grapevine viral diseases. An April 4 event in Prosser will include new sprayer technologies, irrigation strategies, vineyard salinity, smoke taint and managing tannins. 

Wheat news on the fly

The Washington Grain Commission has a series of 20-minute weekly podcasts, “Wheat All About It,” that can be downloaded to your phone, computer or be streamed. They are, according to the commission’s website, “A way to listen to a magazine in your truck, tractor, combine or maybe even your easy chair with your eyes closed.”

Episodes 58 and 59, the most recent two episodes posted are a conversation with Aaron Carter, Washington State University winter wheat breeder, who talks about what makes a breeder tick and how wheat breeding techniques are opening doors to researchers. Going back a few weeks, Episode 57 features meteorologist Bryce Anderson who talks about the Pacific Ocean La Niña effect and his forecast for cold and wet conditions through the winter and into spring. His presentation, “Better Wet and Cold Than Hot and Dry,” also looks at changing weather conditions and climate change.

Wheat enthusiasts have access to all the past podcasts as well.

AgWatch is a collection of agriculture-related news from across the region. If you have an industry-related story idea, call Nevonne McDaniels at 664-7151 or email: mcdaniels@wenatcheeworld.com.

Reach Nevonne McDaniels at 509-664-7151 or .