wheat harvest

Nicole Berg

There’s a lot of time to think while sitting behind the wheel of a combine. 

Right now, Northwest wheat farmers are wrapping up their harvest in many areas. But across the country, farmers are losing money on every load of that golden grain. 

“You have to be wired differently to do this work,” says farmer and grain consultant Kevin Duling, of Maupin, Ore. “It’s very frustrating. It’s very stressful.” 

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Monday marked the start of the Northwest’s bin-busting wheat harvest. Last year was big, but this year’s wet winter and spring has poured on the yields.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Many Washington and Idaho wheat farmers are struggling this year because of a weird crop problem. Researchers at the USDA’s Western Wheat Quality Lab at Washington State University in Pullman are looking into it.

By baking cakes, cookies, bread, pancakes, noodles and pasta.

Northwest Wheat Harvest Could Be Down This Summer

Jun 20, 2014
USDA

Farmers in Oregon, Idaho and Washington are expected to harvest less wheat this summer. The weather forecast has a lot to do with it.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

  The first bushels of Northwest wheat are coming off honey-colored fields in southeast Washington.

The harvest comes just as Japan and South Korea say they’ll resume buying Northwest wheat. The Asian countries banned the U.S. grain after some genetically modified plants were found in Oregon this spring. The bounce-back is a huge relief for Northwest farmers, but market confidence remains shaken.

At Blain Ranch, there’s an unobstructed view of Mt. Hood and the sound of ripe wheat shifting in the breeze.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

There’s been a lot of speculation but few answers so far about how genetically modified wheat ended up in an Oregon field. Northwest farmers and seed purveyors say they go to great lengths to keep each variety of grain distinct, tracked and pure. And yet they concede, mistakes can still happen.

"A random isolated occurrence"

We’re in downtown Connell – prime Columbia Basin wheat country. Dana Herron is a seed salesman and as we talk I notice he’s a really clean guy. He carefully folds his paper napkin, and later he dons gloves to pump gas.

Mim Tasters / Flickr

Agribusiness giant Monsanto says genetically modified wheat found in Oregon could be the result of an accident rather than a widespread planting of the controversial seed. In a call Wednesday morning with reporters, the St. Louis-based company says its provided its specific tests to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for use in the investigation.

Mim Tasters / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has increased the number of investigators and field staff looking into the genetically modified wheat found on an Oregon farm. There are now 15 people on the ground in the Northwest, up from nine last week.

In about a month, Northwest wheat farmers will rev up their tractors for harvest. That means USDA investigators have a limited time to figure out how the genetically modified wheat sprouted up.