June 18, 2024

Labor shortage: U-pick can make a difference in strawberries

strawberry season

Strawberry season is in full swing in Eastern Quebec. In the current context of labor shortage, producers believe that picking your own can help compensate for the lack of hands for the harvest.

Thanks to favorable weather conditions, the strawberries are sweet and delicious this year. They are therefore just waiting to be picked and savored. Strawberry field owners are just waiting to receive the pickers.

At La Fraisière Durette, in Saint-Ulric, picking your own represents 50% of the harvest, which is very interesting for the manager of the family business, Keven Durette.

«It increases a little each season, he notes. Often, people who come pick-your-own say they are satisfied and they come back every year.»

strawberry season

Keven Durette says he is relatively spared the effects of the labor shortage.

«Ideally, we might need to have a few more pickers, but we are lucky, we have passionate people who come back, so in general it is good, he believes. We have three workers from Mexico who are helping out.»

So far, the harvests have been excellent with several fruits per plant and tasty strawberries, but it would be premature to make predictions as to the outcome of the season, according to him.

«After a slow start due to a late spring, it’s off to a good start, but we’re barely halfway through the season. Now it all depends on the weather for the rest of July.»

Only 10% U-pick at Ferme Bourdages

For his part, the co-owner of Ferme Bourdages Tradition, in Saint-Siméon, Pierre Bourdages, would like to increase the share of pick-your-own in his fields. Unlike the Saint-Ulric strawberry field, this represents only 10% of the volume of strawberries harvested.

strawberry season

We always try to promote U-pick, but we see that the enthusiasm is increasing. It’s a great family activity. People can taste the fruit, we stuff ourselves with strawberries as they say, he laughs. It is interesting for the children, because it builds us a future clientele.

«Pick-your-own would probably make up for a little the lack of personnel,» say Pierre Bourdages, co-owner of Ferme Bourdages Tradition.

strawberry season

Pierre Bourdages adds that 2022 is set to be a very good year because strawberries are plentiful. He adds that the challenge will be to succeed in harvesting them all.

Moreover, the man is always looking for pickers.

We had planned 40 foreign workers, but we only have 30. We are calling on everyone to pick your own and for local workers who would like to come and harvest with us. For them, there is a way to make an interesting income.

Mr. Bourdages reminds us that growing strawberries is not easy.

When sometimes customers tell me that the strawberries are expensive, I tell myself that they have no idea of the manual work involved, he says. Before the strawberries arrive in the basket, they need to be planted, irrigated, weeded, mulched and harvested. There are many steps.

Starting at the end of June, the season is earlier in Baie-des-Chaleurs. The yield is currently at its highest.

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