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Ice Storm Warning issued January 17 at 5:40AM PST until January 18 at 4:00PM PST by NWS

...LIGHT ICING POSSIBLE TODAY. HEAVY ICE AND SNOW ACCUMULATIONS EXPECTED TONIGHT AND WEDNESDAY... .SEVERAL ROUNDS OF MOISTURE WILL OVERRUN THE VERY COLD AIR MASS CURRENTLY IN PLACE. THE FIRST ROUND ARRIVES THIS MORNING NEAR THE CASCADES AND SPREADS EAST LATE MORNING AND AFTERNOON. THIS WILL BE LIGHT BUT ALSO IN THE FORM OF SLEET...FREEZING RAIN...AND SNOW.

Today

Hi21° Wintry Mix Likely

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Lo20° Freezing Rain

Wednesday

Hi32° Rain/Freezing Rain

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Lo29° Wintry Mix Likely then Slight Chance Snow

Thursday

Hi36° Cloudy

Thursday Night

Lo27° Slight Chance Rain/Snow

Friday

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Friday Night

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Saturday

Hi35° Chance Rain

Saturday Night

Lo24° Slight Chance Rain/Snow

Growers find apple variety is key

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YAKIMA — Larger crops, changing varieties and mechanization are key issues facing the apple industry in the state of Washington in the years ahead, a horticulture official said at a convention in Yakima.

Growers will have to find the right mix of apple varieties for the market and continue to promote exports, said David Douglas, president of the Washington State Horticultural Association.

Apples are grown on about 160,000 acres in the state. Export sales account for about a third of all the apples sold, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported Tuesday.

Douglas made his statement at the 108th annual convention of the association that attracted about 1,600 people to the Yakima Convention Center.

Attendees are also checking out a trade show at the Yakima Valley SunDome, with 250 exhibitors showing off equipment, services and products.

Washington is the nation’s leading apple producer. This year’s crop was a record 121 million boxes. A box of apples weighs 40 pounds.

The mix of varieties has changed and is vastly different,” said Douglas, referring to the decreasing numbers of Red Delicious apples and increasing volumes of Honeycrisp, Gala and other varieties.

We have to continue to make sure we are growing the mix of fruit the market desires. As we grow larger crops, it is important to be in position to export,” said Douglas, a member of the family ownership group of Douglas Fruit Co.

Larger crops will come from higher yields on the same number of acres, he said.

An economic study requested by the Washington Apple Commission concluded the apple industry contributed more than $7 billion to the state’s economy during the 2010-2011 marketing season. Nearly 60,000 people were employed in production and related industries, generating wages of about $1.95 billion.

Labor shortages in the orchards the past two years have growers looking to increase mechanization.

Mechanization is something the industry needs to work toward,” Douglas said. “All our apples are hand-picked. There will be some that will be machine-harvested. It is hard to know how soon.”