removed from a farmer’s field near St. John, Wash. The May frost stressed 17 acres,
leaving the wheat vulnerable to disease as well, he said. (Photo by Linda Weiford, WSU News)
Carpenter ants descended on eastern Washington
to mate, not to eat homes. They often build colonies
in trees and stacked wood. (Photo by entomologist
Art Antonelli, WSU Puyallup Research and Extension
“When the ants appeared, I barely had time to catch my breath between all the inquiries,” he said.
“As the wheat matures, I’m hearing from farmers concerned that sections of their fields don’t look right,” said Van Vleet, an agriculture scientist who serves farmers, agricultural businesses and communities in one of the most prolific wheat-growing counties in the United States.
Record heat, cold
Which doesn’t surprise meteorologist Nic Loyd of WSU’s statewide AgWeatherNet data and decision-making system. “May was a very strange weather month,” he said. Records were set for heat, cold and rainfall in certain parts of the state, including eastern Washington.
‘What the heck happened?’
A St. John, Wash., farmer’s 17 acres of choppy and discolored winter
wheat. The farmer asked Van Vleet to investigate what went wrong.
(Photo courtesy of Steve Van Vleet)
Winter wheat enters dormancy during the cold months and comes back to life in the spring, needing warmth and sun to reboot. A late cold snap can throw the crop’s growth off-kilter, resulting in lower yields or all-out decimation.
Explosion of ants
“Termites eat wood. Carpenter ants hollow it out to make room for their nests,” Van Vleet explained to the multitude of callers.
“The climate has been a serious issue this year and Mother Nature has shown us all who the real boss is,” he said, as rain pelted the Palouse and thunder boomed overhead.