We’re just a couple of weeks away from a new crop of apples; growers in the Yakima Valley of eastern Washington, whose 175,000 acres of orchards produce some 10% of the nation’s apples, are expecting to pick about 130 million boxes this year. All they need is a few cold (not freezing) nights before the fruit color sets and the field crews can move in.

Hipsters in Seattle (the wet west side) think of Washington State’s economy as Boeing, Paccar and Kenworth for manufacturing, Weyerhaeuser for lumber, Microsoft for software, and Amazon for everything else. But the state’s number two export, after airplanes, is agricultural products: potatoes, wheat, cherries, apples.

Grain harvested in the Palouse gets loaded onto barges and floated down the Columbia, where it’s loaded onto ships that sail across the Pacific to make noodles in China. Apples keep pretty well if stored properly, and have many uses: eating, baking, sauce, juice. Spuds go to processors in Idaho before they get shipped to McDonald’s. Cherries, with a short shelf life, go out by air to markets in Europe as well as Asia. (There’s talk of building a major new airport in the desert flatlands near Moses Lake, by the way.) Ag exports to the TPP nations came to $2.5 billion last year. And grapes, let’s not forget. Vinifera grapes are actually the highest value agricultural crop but need “processing” before they become wine.

Article by Ronald Holden, Forbes.com