Washington Agriculture

Allen Pleus / Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife

A cold snap might be an effective tool for fish and wildlife managers trying to stop the spread of a tiny invasive species. Capitol Lake in Olympia is serving as a testing ground for freezing out New Zealand mud snails. 

PROSSER, Wash. – Most of us may be enjoying the fall sunshine, but Northwest wheat farmers are instead wishing for a little rain.

Nicole Berg digs her clean-up-to-now nails into the dry crusty soil on her farm.

About four to five inches down, there still isn’t any hint of past rain.

A few farmers did get some showers. Despite high-tech forecasts, Berg says often knowing when to plant still comes down to a hunch, decades of experience and an old wheat farmer adage.

In western Michigan, there aren't enough apples to pick because bad weather decimated 85 to 90 percent of the crop. But Washington state has the opposite problem — there's an abundance of apples, but not enough pickers.

This should be the happiest, busiest time of year in Washington apple orchards. But now — just as the peak of apple harvest is coming on — Broetje Orchards manager Roger Bairstow is wincing.