US (CA): Shortage of workers hampers SLO County's crop harvest

San Luis Obispo County’s harvest season is in full swing, with a variety of crops —from bell peppers to wine grapes — being picked from local fields. Growers, however, say they have fewer workers, and that has hampered their ability to quickly get wine grapes off the vine and vegetables out of the ground and into the marketplace.

“We’re struggling to find enough people to do the harvest of our specialty crops,” said Dan Sutton, general manager of the Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange, which specializes in such vegetables as Napa cabbage and bok choy. “People aren’t available, and this has probably been the most challenging season on record. It’s taking us a lot longer to do what we normally do quite a bit more efficiently.”

In years with an abundance of help, crews would consist of about 12 to 14 people, he said.

Now, crews average about eight to 10, and to keep up with the workload, they have been working longer hours and into the weekend, Sutton said.


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