Whatcom Berry Production
There are nearly 100,000 acres of productive farmland in Whatcom county equating to over $350 million in agriculture production. Ranking 6th out of 39 WA counties for total agriculture production. The county produces nearly 85% of the nations red raspberries which totals nearly 48 million pounds of red raspberries a year. Whatcom county also harvested approximately 35 million pounds of blueberries in 2014. There are approximately 280 acres of Whatcom strawberries and 2,500 acres of blueberries in Whatcom county alone.
Blueberries and Red Raspberries have been grown in Washington state for over 50 years. Washington is the largest producer of both organic and conventional blueberries with about 50% of national production occurring in Washington state. Washington is the largest producer of processed red raspberries and the fifth largest producer of strawberries. In 2015 small fruit production in Washington was valued at $243.7 million.
As new markets open, production acres continue to increase. The conservation can help to align best management practices and farm plans with the development plans of new acres.
Since 1946 we have worked with landowners and farmers, on a voluntary basis, to manage natural resources in Whatcom County. We are meeting today's challenges with expanding programs and opportunities to help people conserve their land and its resources. The District has a wealth of information concerning water quality issues, and management of small and large farming operations.
The WCD offers the following:
- Farm Planning
- Habitat and Restoration
- Outreach and Education
For more information on services and information offered by the conservation district; Who is the WCD factsheet.
Clean water is essential for human health and for the health of fish, shellfish, wildlife, and livestock. Human contact with fecal contaminated waters can cause illnesses such as gastroenteritis, skin rashes and upper respiratory infections.
Food production is a crucial part of Washington’s economy and a vital component to the success of the region.
- A vibrant and efficient berry industry
- A strong coalition of dairies
- Healthy fishing and shellfish industry
Find more information on water quality here: Water Quality Factsheet.
Making Use of Hedgerows and Cover-crops
Riparian buffer zones are areas of trees and shrubs located adjacent to streams, ponds, and wetlands. Vegetative buffers act as bio filters, they absorb nutrient and chemical run-off. Cost share programs may be available to help with vegetative buffer installation
Many land management practices increase efficiency, benefit crop production and help to protect riparian zones.
- Establishment of riparian buffers
- No-drive or vegetative filter strips
- Pollinator habitat and flower strips
- In-row cover crops
More information on the use of hedgerows and cover crops can be found here: Riparian Factsheet.
Land with all three of the following:
- Primarily wet soils
- Supportive of wetland plants
- Possessing wetland characteristics
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can make a wetlands determination for existing land and any land you plan on purchasing. The following activities could jeopardize participation in USDA benefits, commodity programs and conservation programs: clearing forested wetland, filling, excavating or leveling, dredging wetland, stump removal, creating new drainage.
Find more information about wetland designations and management here: Wetland Factsheet.
Understanding and mediating the risks associated with manure application is the key to successful and ecologically sound manure use.
Manure has historically been an important part of berry production in Whatcom county, more recently the use of manure has been dependent on its availability and the cost of conventional fertilizer products. When used manure should be properly covered and contained to prevent runoff or leaching to groundwater.
Store your manure:
- At least 100 feet of waterbody
- At least 250 feet of wells
- Sloping away from surface water
- Away from neighbors
- Away from fields in flood plane
- On durable surfaces, not fast draining soils
More information on the use and storage of manure in berry production can be found here: Manure Factsheet.
Farm Conservation Plan
A farm plan is a document assessing site specific aspects of a property and outlining best management practices identified as necessary to avoid potential negative environmental impacts of agricultural practices. An action plan is part of a farm plan, outlining a series of actions (with timetables for implementation) developed to meet a farmer’s goals and financial capabilities. Many things are considered in a farm plan, including farm acreage available for grazing/hayland, soil types, slope of the land, location of well head and septic system, proximity to streams, wetlands, and/or water bodies (i.e. swales, ditches, ponds, etc.), type and numbers of livestock or crops, and resources such as machinery or buildings.