Even though we are a long way from the fires, this was the sun setting in smokey Shepparton last night.
It's harvest time in Shepparton and young back-packers from all over the world come here to work. Plunket Orchards put out the following information for those interested in earning money picking pears and apples from January to April.
Fruit picking is strenuous and physically challenging. It involves climbing up and down ladders, carrying picking bags that can weigh up to 15 kg and moving ladders around that weigh approximately 15 kg. It isn't suitable for all people, but anyone who is motivated and in good physical condition can pick fruit.
New pickers are trained in how to pick fruit without causing damage. Fruit is picked according to colour and size specifications set by management.
The most successful fruit pickers are the consistent ones who have the patience to stick it out for the first few days and stay on for more than 2 weeks and develop their fitness and speed over time.
Pay is based on the number of bins picked. A ‘bin’ is a wooden fruit bin that holds approximately 400 kg of fruit. The pay rate varies with different fruit, but as a guide, the rate is approximately $30.00 per bin. New pickers take a couple of days to develop their picking technique, during which time 2 to 4 bins per day would be expected. More experienced pickers can achieve anything between 4 and 10 bins per day. Some fruit varieties are paid on a hourly basis.
If fruit picking is too physically demanding for you, there are several positions available grading apples and pears, separating the good fruit from the not so good but you'll be required to stand for long periods.