Labor shortage: U-pick can make a difference in strawberry fields

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Labour shortage: U-pick can make a difference in strawberry fields

Strawberry growers promote U-pick.

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

Thanks to favorable weather , strawberries are sweet and delicious this year. They are just waiting to be picked and savoured. 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.

Eating strawberries means eating in the summer.

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

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's good, he says. We have three workers from Mexico 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 about 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. »

— Keven Durette, manager of La Fraisière Durette

For his part, the co-owner of the 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, it represents only 10% of the volume of strawberries harvested.

With U-pick, we can savor the fruit still full of sunshine.

We always try to promote self-picking. But we can 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's interesting for the children, because it builds us a future clientele.

“U-pick would probably compensate for a little lack of staff. »

— Pierre Bourdages, co-owner of Ferme Bourdages Tradition

La Ferme Bourdages Tradition hires about thirty foreign workers (archives).

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.

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 them. we. 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 stages.

Started at the end of June, the season is earlier in Chaleur Bay. Yield there is currently at its highest.

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