SHE’S NOT AP­PLES IN THE OR­CHARDS

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - ROGER HAN­SON

AS the ap­ple sea­son moves into its later stages, grow­ers are strug­gling for pick­ers to get fruit off the trees.

Or­chard man­ager Scott Price of Calvert Bros at Ranelagh in the Huon Val­ley said de­spite this year’s crop be­ing of very high qual­ity, many grow­ers were find­ing it a chal­lenge to get pick­ers.

“There are many rea­sons for it – the late sea­son this year, there are also gaps in times to har­vest some of the newer va­ri­eties and pick­ers don’t like wait­ing, they like con­ti­nu­ity of work, also it’s get­ting a lit­tle cooler,” Mr Price said.

“Some pick­ers are work­ing at five dif­fer­ent farms to bring in the har­vest.”

He said he was hop­ing his or­chard could har­vest 2800 bins. Each bin weighs about 360kg and de­pend­ing on fruit size, con­tains about 2200 ap­ples.

Like many grow­ers Dane Griggs, of Griggs Grower Di­rect Ap­ples and Cher­ries just south of Huonville has found the num­ber of pick­ers dry­ing up.

“We are find­ing as the sea­son goes on, it’s get­ting harder to get pick­ers,” Mr Griggs said.

Fruit Grow­ers Tas­ma­nia busi­ness devel­op­ment man­ager Phil Pyke said there were some grow­ers with­out pick­ers, but the qual­ity of fruit and yields were good.

“In the Huon some of the ma­jor grow­ers are shar­ing pick­ers around be­cause they can’t get lo­cals to work in the or­chards,” Mr Pyke said. “The picker short­age is also about the sea­son run­ning late in Vic­to­ria, this then af­fected us here.

“Tas­ma­nia’s ap­ple sea­son is also run­ning late and we didn’t get that nat­u­ral flow of pick­ers to lo­cal or­chards.”

The is­sue, Mr Pyke said, was statewide.

“For some grow­ers it was a real strug­gle. It was quite chal­leng­ing.”

The back­packer de­ba­cle from last year is yet to bite.

“Many of the back­pack­ers work­ing this sea­son are em­ployed on their sec­ond-year visa. How­ever, it could hurt us next sea­son,” Mr Pyke said.

A new gov­ern­ment pro­gram to be tri­alled from July 1 for two years will al­low thou­sands of job­less Aus­tralians to earn up to $5000 do­ing sea­sonal work and not lose their wel­fare ben­e­fits un­der pro­posed new laws.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a Bill in Par­lia­ment to trial the changes, an­nounced in the midyear bud­get re­view.

Up to 7600 eligible re­cip­i­ents will be able to par­tic­i­pate in work such as fruit pick­ing with­out hav­ing their un­em­ploy­ment pay­ments re­duced, with a $300 travel al­lowance also on of­fer for those whose ap­proved job is more than 120km from where they live.

The ap­ple sea­son fin­ishes at the end of May and lo­cals who are look­ing for work are di­rected to the Tas­ma­nian Agri­cul­tural Jobs Project web­site to as­sist Tas­ma­ni­ans, mi­grants and hu­man­i­tar­ian en­trants re­sid­ing in Aus­tralia or in­ter­na­tional stu­dents to con­nect with job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Th­ese jobs may be ca­sual, part­time or even full-time. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, visit tasagjobs.com.au

Some pick­ers are work­ing at five dif­fer­ent farms to bring in the har­vest

OR­CHARD MAN­AGER SCOTT PRICE

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