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What’s grown in Washington may be part of your Thanksgiving feast

An overhead view of a typical Thanksgiving dinner.
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FILE

Buttery, creamy mashed potatoes. The perfect pumpkin pie. A juicy turkey leg. And don’t forget to wash it all down with a glass of wine.

Thanksgiving is upon us, and as families make their final meal plans for the big day, Washington farmers and the state’s economy are preparing for a boost. Agriculture, domestic sales and exports, is a huge industry as Washington tops the charts on goods such as apples and hops.

Wondering if a Washington farmer had a hand in any of your Thanksgiving dishes? Here’s a breakdown of some of Washington’s top crops:

Potatoes

Chances are high that the potatoes you mash, roast or fry came from right here in Washington. Spuds are the state’s fifth top commodity, raking in more than $942 million.

Washington is the No. 2 producer of potatoes in the United States, second only to Idaho. And if you prefer a sweet potato, Washington may still have your back. In recent years, Washington State University experts have been testing to see if sweet potatoes, usually grown in warm climates, can make it in Washington. So far so good, with crops in Mount Vernon proving to be productive.

Apples, cherries and more fruit

Opting for apple pie over pumpkin this Thanksgiving? Give thanks for Washington’s state fruit and its top crop: the apple.

Washington apples are a $2 billion industry. Seventy percent of apples produced in the U.S. are grown here. That’s about six out of every 10 apples consumed in the country and you can buy a Washington apple in all 50 states.

Washington harvests about 10 to 12 billion apples each year, grown on more than 175,000 acres of orchards, according to the Washington Apple Commission.

Or maybe you’re planning to make a cherry pie? Washington’s got you covered, again. Cherries are the state’s ninth largest commodity, making up $407 million. Not a fan of either? Washington is also the nation’s top producer of blueberries and pears, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

Rolls and stuffing

Adding stuffing or dinner rolls on your table likely means adding another one of Washington’s largest crops: wheat.

Washington is the fifth largest wheat producer in the country. It is a $1.7 billion industry and Washington’s third top ag product.

In 2021, wheat growers in the state harvested 2.3 million acres of wheat for a total of more than 87 million bushels, according to the Washington Grains Commission.

Wine and beer

For many, Thanksgiving is toasted with a glass of wine, and Washington is the source of some of the best.

It’s the second largest wine producer in the country with more than 1,000 wineries, 400 grape growers and 60,000 acres of wine grapes, according to the Washington Wine Commission. Washington is also home to 20 designated wine grape-growing regions.

Wine production contributes more than $8 billion in annual in-state economic impact, according to the commission.

If you’re more into beer, Washington hops may be an ingredient in your chosen brew. Washington-grown hops are a $434 million industry. The Yakima Valley alone contains about 75% of the total U.S. hop acreage.

What about the turkey?

Don’t fret. Washington does produce some of Thanksgiving’s main event, too, but not nearly as much as other states in the country.

Washington isn’t known for its turkey and doesn’t rank high in turkey production nationwide. Yet there are 684 farms raising turkeys in Washington, though most were small, family-owned, according to Washington State University. 

We are a popular destination for turkey hunters, however, with both fall and spring seasons to hunt the birds.

Other sources of protein are more of the state’s specialty. Cattle is the fourth largest commodity in the state, making up a more than $1 billion industry, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

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This story was originally cooked — er, we mean PUBLISHED — by Washington State Standard.