Farmers across California have reported leaving fields and orchards unpicked this year because they are unable to find enough harvest laborers.
Madera County farmers say it’s too soon to tell if there will be a similar labor shortage, but they are readying for it as the picking of hand-harvested crops draws near.
“We’re not having to leave fruit on the fields just yet, but as harvest gears up we’re going to be needing more and more people,” said Kevin Herman, owner of Specialty Crop Co., which grows a variety of crops including pomegranates and figs. “Figs mature earlier and quicker than raisin grapes, so right now we’re OK. When raisin harvest starts, that takes a lot of hand labor, and we’re not going to have enough to go around come early September.”
Crops that typically require a lot of laborers are fresh figs, raisin grapes, and late maturing stone fruit varieties, Herman said...