Crop progress report 10/25: Early frost, snow hit Washington


There were 5.8 days suitable for fieldwork in Washington last week, down from 5.9 days the previous week.

Western Washington suffered from a challenging autumn, and producers struggled to harvest forage crops. Between summer replanting, cool temperatures and smoke, crops did not mature on their typical timeline. Corn harvest was immature. Some corn fields had blown-down stalks that made the fields impossible to harvest. Replanted pumpkins never turned color and did not get put up for sale. Grass crops were faring well, but the early frost last week hurt producers. Vegetable producers rushed to get fall plantings done to avoid frost damage. These circumstances also influenced autumn agritourism, both at pumpkin patches and at corn mazes. San Juan County had lower temperatures last week and range growth slowed. Producers were busy harvesting vegetables from fields and tunnels before last week’s freeze. Harvest was completed for most fruit trees. Barley harvest wrapped up. Livestock were still on fall pasture for many producers, while some started feeding stored feed. Skagit County had a wet week. Producers in Snohomish County harvested the last of the corn silage and prepared fields before more frosty nights.

Chelan and Douglas counties had snow on Friday, which impacted the apples still on trees, winter wheat emerging and feed consumption for livestock. Despite this snow, drought conditions persisted due to the large precipitation deficits from the last year. Recovery from the Pearl Hill Fire continued, and producers were assessing damage. Hundreds of miles of fence were damaged, and pastures could be effected through 2021. The large loss of vegetation increased the risks of erosion, flash floods and landslides in some areas.

Yakima County had multiple frosts last week, ending with a low of 18 degrees Sunday night. Vegetable production was completed. Some fields were turned down, while other fields still had black plastic and irrigation tubing. Producers frantically continued to harvest grapes and apples through the weekend. Late-maturing apples were harvested.

Stevens County received five inches of snow on Friday. Pend Oreille and Spokane counties had frost almost every morning last week. Cold nights limited onion and hay producers in Adams County. Dry bean harvest was nearly complete. Asotin and Garfield counties had hard freezes for several days and nights around zero degrees. Some fields had snow cover before the freeze.

Washington crop conditions:

Winter wheat:
1% very poor
4% poor
22% fair
58% good
15% excellent

Washington crop progress:

Winter wheat planted:
96% this week
88% last week
92% last year
92% 5-year average

Winter wheat emerged:
68% this week
65% last week
69% last year
69% 5-year average

Alfalfa hay 4th cutting:
88% this week
86% last week
82% last year
90% 5-year average