What they do
Fruit and vegetable pickers harvest a range of fruit, vegetables, nuts and berries, depending on the season. Fruit and vegetable pickers work at farms, market gardens and orchards all around Western Australia, from banana plantations in Carnarvon, to vineyards in Margaret River and melon farms in Kununurra. They assess produce as it is picked, checking for ripeness and discarding any pieces that are over-ripened, or that show signs of rotting or disease. Depending on the particular crop and size of the operation, they may pick produce by hand or operate specialised harvesting machines. These workers may also carefully pack produce into boxes and containers, ready for shipping.
Fruit and vegetable pickers generally work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. Work conditions can range from hot and sunny, to cold, wet and windy, depending on the location and time of year. These workers are often paid according to the amount of produce they pick, so they must work quickly and for long hours, often from sunrise to sunset. The work can be physically demanding, as pickers will frequently climb up and down ladders and usually carry loads of produce as they pick.
Fruit and vegetable harvesting is seasonal work and pickers may need to travel great distances to find work, depending on the time of year. Some employers may provide food and accommodation, though this is generally very basic and pickers will more commonly arrange their own living arrangements.
Tools and technologies
Depending on the particular crop, fruit and vegetable pickers may collect produce by hand, using secateurs, or with specialised harvesting machines. Once picked, produce may be collected in tubs, buckets, bags, bins or on trays. In some cases, these workers will also be involved in cleaning and packing produce ready for shipping, which may also be done either by hand or with specialised machinery. Fruit and vegetable pickers may also be required to work from ladders or on elevated work platforms.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a fruit and vegetable picker without any formal qualifications and get training on the job.
Required registration and licensing
You may improve your employment prospects if you hold a valid driver’s licence and/or a licence to operate a forklift.