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'Chronic shortage' of apple pickers in the Okanagan: BC Fruit Growers Association

Do you have what it takes to pick 2,400 apples an hour or 40 apples a minute?

If so, the BC Fruit Growers Association wants to hear from you.

"We have a chronic shortage of apple pickers as the harvest starts on Gala and Sunrise apples in the South Okanagan," says BC Fruit Growers' Association general manager Glen Lucas.

"With fewer foreign agricultural workers and pickers from Quebec here because of COVID we're appealing to local workers to consider picking apples. For sure, it's challenging physical labour that's not for everyone, but it is rewarding work helping with a harvest."

<who> Photo credit: 123RF

The 2,400 apples picked in an hour is spotlighted because that's the average number of apples in an 800-pound bin.

Orchardists on average pay $21 per bin picked, so a worker can make $168 a day if they fill a bin an hour for eight hours totalling 6,400 pounds or 19,200 apples.

BC's minimum wage is $14.60 an hour.

"This type of work usually doesn't appeal to your average Okanagan worker," admits Lucas.

"But we're making the appeal because we need local workers. The number of foreign workers is down from 4,500 to 3,500 and most of the young people from Quebec who helped out with the cherry harvest have gone home."

In all, 152 million pounds of apples need to be harvested in the Okanagan between now and early November as Sunrise, Gala, McIntosh, Red and Golden Delicious, Ambrosia, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp apples ripen in waves.

The most-grown varieties are Gala at 64 million pounds and Ambrosia at 60 million pounds.

If you want to give apple picking a go call the association's work matchmaker Ron Forest at 778-363-3620 or check out BCAgJobs.gov.bc.ca.



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