Discussing Labor Issues

Discussing Labor Issues

Discussing Labor Issues. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Fruit Grower Report.

A lot of research is being done on mechanizing tree fruit harvesting but we are not there yet so labor is still a huge part of the tree fruit industry. Jim Schupp, Associate Professor of Pomology at Penn State - Biglerville a research and extension center recently spoke with growers about their labor issues.

SCHUPP: Labor, depending on who’s crop and who’s estimate is at least 60% of the total production cost at the farmgate. Labor availability is also a growing concern. Now there are solutions. One of which would be to develop a workable guest worker program. I should also add in the absence of a national mandate in this area, we’re starting to face individual states taking these things on - not always to our advantage.

He says their approach in Pennsylvania is to try and increase labor efficiency.

SCHUPP: We’re doing this first of all by trying to encourage growers to develop labor efficient growing systems. Those systems must be biologically efficient which means we have to at the same time as we’re trying to get labor efficiency, simultaneously increase our marketable yield. That’s a very doable thing.

Schupp says this is a win-win situation.

SCHUPP: Such technologies obviously also be compatible with mechanization and so in addition to developing labor efficient systems we’re also evaluating new technologies to increase labor efficiency and also simultaneously to try and increase yield and fruit quality.

That’s today’s Fruit Grower Report. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network. 

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