A specialty crop picker’s first day’s pay for hand-harvest work could be less than minimum wage. Pairing a novice picker with a seasoned employee can dramatically improve a picker’s technique so that he or she earns $20, $30, $40… maybe even $50 an hour. However, this requires you to have picking rate data available quickly to compare to minimum wage calculations. Until then… the training period is on your dime.
If you could get this information with the click of a button, wouldn’t it be foolish not to utilize the technology? And from a fruit picker’s perspective, why work harder and faster if it doesn’t seem possible to make more than minimum wage? It can be as easy as running a report that automatically flags pickers under the minimum wage pay.
The best hand-harvest pickers want to make money. Paying field workers by the unit provides the opportunity to earn more money and attract good workers. The best workers pick faster and better-quality produce. Some farms have the advantage of a large workforce and long picking season. They can utilize 1,000 workers over their entire picking and pruning seasons. Not everyone is so blessed. No one makes money on unpicked fruit or vegetables left to rot in the fields.
If I know each bucket holds 20 lb., why not pay by the bucket?
From a picker’s perspective, I just need the bucket to look full in order to receive full credit. As a picker, I don’t care if there is 20 lb. in the bucket—the lighter the better! We all know that “fluffing” makes the bucket look full. Sure, the produce might bruise… but that’s not a picker’s concern.
Suppose the farmer is clever and weighs the bucket to make sure it is at least 20 lb. How will this create more trust and employee satisfaction and retention when pickers feel cheated every time they bring in a bucket over 20 lb.?
Pay by weight to eliminate many of the problems that arise from the “pay by the bucket” mentality. Use the FairPick Pro or FairPick Lite systems when harvesting high-value specialty crops such as cherries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes.