Washington asparagus growers are cutting the last of this season’s crop from the fields, and have done well this year as far as crop quality, market prices, and weather. Despite all that, growers had to leave nearly ten percent of the crop in the fields due to a labor shortage; there just weren’t enough people available to cut it. This labor shortage could easily extend into the cherry harvest, which is just getting into full swing, and is expected to be yet another record breaking crop. B. J. Thurlby, President of the Washington State Fruit Commission and Northwest Cherry Growers says there’s definitely a fear of not having enough workers to pick the crop, but strangely enough the cooler weather has helped with that.
THURLBY: Overall, the growers I’ve spoken to always say they could probably use maybe a quarter more or a third more of the bodies that they currently have, but they’re making do. For the most part we’re getting this crop off. The cooler weather has actually kind of helped on that front cause it’s allowed some more people to get up here from California and it’s allowed the southern districts to pick, and then allowed the harvesters to kind of move north a bit. So, so far it’s been okay. That’s the best we can probably say about the labor situation, and it certainly could be worse. So, we’re hoping we’ll be able to continue to see enough bodies in the region to get this crop off.
Washington produces the bulk of the nation’s fresh sweet cherries. An estimated 40,000 workers will be needed to complete this year’s harvest.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.