The 2021 harvest will be very challenging in regard to labour. There is a lot of misinformation circulating in regard to pay rates and working conditions. This needs to be countered with the facts.
With good organisation, appropriate training and clear instructions, anyone who is reasonably fit and well motivated can earn good wages from fruit picking. Think of smart ways to motivate and retain harvest labour.
Make sure you have back up staff for critical jobs such as tractor drivers and forklift operators to make sure these people do not work excessive hours.
Pickers need clear instruction on what fruit to harvest when selective picking. Good picker training is necessary and needs to cover the many tricks of the trade that high performing pickers implement.
Understand the value of the fruit to be harvested and be prepared to bypass low value fruit if there is high value fruit ready for harvest.
Try to keep up with fruit maturity progression. The best fruit that is easiest to handle is that harvested in the first week of the harvest window. Regular maturity testing commencing three to four weeks ahead of expected harvest date is critical to identify maturity progression.
Heat units accumulated over the first 42 days after full bloom correlate strongly with the length of time from full bloom to harvest. This spring the heat units over that period were 40% above normal. This means that harvest will be earlier than normal by maybe a couple of weeks.
Early season Summerfruit appear to be running about two weeks ahead of normal.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.