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Ag News

Ag News

January 7, 2016

Water preservation and soil health key topics at upcoming conference

In an upcoming Eco Farm Conference this month in Pacific Grove, California, the challenge of soil health and consistent water preservation will be the key themes.

Experts from the farming, marketing and education sectors will be on hand to give talks as well as the latest solutions to some of the acute challenges facing water conservation and healthy soil. The conference will include tracks highlighting irrigation efficiency, crop management, soil nutrients, plant disease and bee harvesting and health.

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Apple exports fall due to smaller crops

Washington apple crops face a double whammy of lower yields and a stronger dollar resulting in exports declining 285 compared to a year ago.

New club and managed varieties concentrated in the domestic markets are other factors affecting the crop numbers. However with a strong domestic market (currently #1 in the world) and concentrated efforts focusing on exports volumes for 2016 should increase.

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EL NINO could bring a lot of wet

Though many forecasters are not predicting it, one Eastern Washington University meteorologist is predicating significant rain this winter.

Meteorologist Robert Quinn believes El Nino weather patterns could skew towards heavier rain. “My prediction is we’re going to see the northern part of that California-storm track sweep into Oregon and parts of Washington,” Quinn said, “and we’re actually going to end up with a warm, wet winter.”

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Organic farms shrink while organic acreage grows

Land making up organic farming has increased dramatically while the number of actual organic farms has decreased in the last several years, according to USDA National Agriculture statistics. Farms earning less than $25,000 annual revenue struggled the most while organic farmers earning more than $250,000 increased.

The organic farming industry is maturing in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in Oregon, which has the fifth highest number of organic acres in the country. The state is also one of the leaders in sales of organic farm products at nearly $237 million in 2014.

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Production of Hops up despite challenging conditions

Beer consumption continues its upward trajectory as US Hop production increased 11% in 2015. The Pacific Northwest is responsible for most of that increase as Washington produces 75% of the hop crops followed by Oregon and Washington.

Production in all three states increased as did the number of acres utilized in hop production. And despite extreme heat in the summer months in Washington and drought conditions with low snowpack throughout the Northwest the crop proved durable.

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Mom earns kudos as Farm Mom of the Year

Oregonian Shelly Boshart-Davis has been named National Farm Mom of the Year. She was one of 1400 women nominated and the first winner ever from the Pacific Northwest. Boshart-Davis is currently president of the U.S. Forage Export Council as well as a wife and mother of three children.

Her new duties will take her to national food expos and agricultural programs across the US. She’s excited to talk about her home state to others. “I get to talk about Oregon agriculture to people all over the country,” Boshart-Davis said. “We produce more than 250 different crops in Oregon, which people in other states find so hard to believe.”

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