Shortage Of Pickers?
Growers in the Yakima Valley are continuing to see the number of pickers in their orchards falling- faster than the cherries can be taken off the trees.
First came the recent rains which threatened to ruin his crop by splitting the fruit. Now he faces a significant lack of workers longtime grower John Verbrugge is no stranger to events getting in the way of his cherry crop this season.
"Before we started picking cherries we started thinning. I've been running about 30-50 percent short of the amount of labor that I've needed."
Growers in the Yakima Valley are seeing a significant decrease in workers.
Many growers blame it on the fact that many people looking for these jobs aren't local, and they have to look elsewhere to find them- even going overseas.
Tighter federal immigration enforcement has limited the amount of traditional migrant farm workers available.
So, for growers any option is worth trying.
"There is no plan b with labor, right now, I'm advertising on Craig's List, we're advertising through Worksource, we're advertising by signs on the road, and we're getting slight responses from those areas but it's not very good," says Verbrugge.
Growers say they loose about 10 percent of their workers everyday and with a large cherry crop this season- the pickers that are here are working extra hard to make sure no fruit gets left on the trees.
"It's about 2- 3 weeks is when the cherry season is over, and than we work about 9 or 10 hours a day and its everyday so about 60 or 70 hours a week," says Jacob Griffen.
The rains may have passed, but Verbrugge knows this problem is here to stay.
For now, his solution is just to keep on picking, as quickly as possible.
" The best response we get is from signs on the side of the road and I don't know who is going to show up on a daily basis."