Farming in and around Heppner

Photo: Wheat Harvest in Morrow County

Most of the farms in the Heppner area utilize dryland-farming techniques, which normally include utilization of a two-year wheat/fallow rotation. Water stored in the soil profile during the fallow period is used to increase the yield potential of wheat grown in the subsequent year. Annual cropping (no fallow period) is becoming more popular in some of the higher rainfall areas located south and west of Heppner. Wheat is the most commonly grown crop in the area, produced on about 175,000 acres annually.

The wheat produced here is soft white wheat. Consumers from around the world enjoy the products made from this kind of wheat. Superior milling and baking properties of the soft white wheat are used to produce flatbreads, steamed breads, cookies, cakes, pastries, and cereal. The soft white wheat varieties can be subdivided into either a “common-type” or a “club-type.” Both types of wheat are grown in the Heppner area. These types are often mixed and marketed as Western White Wheat. The purchaser can request the percentage of club wheat in the blend. Western White Wheat is the worlds’ most popular wheat mixture and is available only from Morrow County and other similar wheat-producing areas in the Pacific Northwest.

The northern part of the county, which extends south from the Columbia River down to an area about twenty miles north of Heppner, utilizes irrigation water to produce potatoes, alfalfa hay, onions, corn, and a variety of grass seed crops. Potatoes and alfalfa, which are the two biggest crops, are each grown on about 15,000 acres annually. Crop quality is excellent, and demand for these products is stable.