Advertise Here

Office Hours

Wheat harvest runs behind normal

WALLA WALLA – Cold weather makes some things hard to start and the 2011 wheat harvest is no exception. Cool temperatures, along with wet spring weather, has pushed back harvest locally and regionally, but the extra rain may boost yields in some areas, according to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin newspaper.

In Walla Walla County, “we’re about two weeks behind right now,” said Dave Gordon, general manager for Northwest Grain Growers. Only about six growers along the Touchet River are cutting wheat right now, he said.

Another local farmer, Curtis Coombs, summed conditions up in two sentences. “It’s just too green. It’s super late right now,” he said.

Another unknown in this year’s harvest will be how much damage fungus stripe rust has caused. The damp spring weather caused a severe infestation throughout the wheat-growing areas, forcing some farmers to apply double or even triple the amount of fungicide to their fields.

The fungus stunts the development of wheat grains, which significantly reduces yields. But how much is yet to be seen.

“I don’t think we’re going to know that until we harvest the crop,” Gordon said Friday.

In Umatilla County, the wheat harvest usually begins July 5, but weather has delayed that an extra 10 days, according to The Associated Press. But on the plus side, the extra rain has doubled this year’s harvest in some areas.

According to the weekly crop report issued by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2 percent of Oregon’s winter wheat had been cut as of July 18 and only 1 percent of Washington state’s harvest.

“The winter wheat harvest continues to slowly advance as it is moving into some of that late developing wheat in the north,” U.S. Department of Agriculture meteorologist Brad Rippey told AgInfo.Net. “The national harvest passed the two-thirds mark in the last week to reach 68 percent. Five-year average … (is) 72 percent. Last year (it was) 70 percent.”

In the Pacific Northwest, 84 percent of Washington’s spring wheat has started to ripen compared to the five-year average of 98 percent. Idaho’s spring wheat is only a point behind average at 80 percent headed, the agriculture service reported.

In the U.S. spring wheat crop, Rippey said cool, wet weather for much of the growing season has held the heading progress to 60 percent by July 17. The five-year average is 88 percent and last year it was 84 percent. The spring wheat condition was reported as “reasonably good,” though. Seventy-three percent was rated as good to excellent and 5 percent very poor to poor.

According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, acreage of winter wheat for harvest this year in Washington state is expected to reach 1.8 million acres, 50,000 acres more than last year.

Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Office Hours

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

The Spokesman-Review business team follows economic development in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

Sign up for our business email newsletter
Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Office Hours.


Alison Boggs (@alisonboggs) Online Producer Alison Boggs posts and manages content on and its social networking accounts.

Recent work by Alison

Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here