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Green Jobs: Apple Farmers Optimistic About Harvest

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U.S. Green Technology | Where Main Street Meets Green Street
Look for an abundance of green jobs at apple orchards this year. Image from lib.umn.edu.

Early this year, New England apple farmers weren’t optimistic about what the latter half of 2012 would bring. They experienced an early spring, which caused trees to flower, but then frost swept through and killed many of those flowers. Against all odds, many farmers say the apple crop is looking pretty good this year, meaning green jobs in orchards won’t be in short supply.

Granted, many orchards’ yeilds are about 10% down, but that’s less of a loss than many farmers expected to face. The president of the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association, Terry Bradshaw, said, “By all the textbooks, we shouldn’t have apples in this state.”

Some regions experienced more loss. Michigan lost roughly 90% of its harvest due to erratic weather. The area was actually declared a federal disaster area because of the extensive damage to the crop. Michigan apple orchards won’t have many green jobs to offer this year.

Vermont is another story. “For some reason, I’ve got a nice crop this year,” said Guy Patoine, owner of Dolly Gray Orchard.

Last year, apple farmers on the east coast had trouble finding people to fill green jobs and pick their fruit. In October 2011, Al Robinson, owner of Robinson Orchards, told CBS News that he usually has about 80 pickers working for him, but that year he could barely find 60. Part of the problem was the crackdown on illegal immigration, which made many regular workers anxious about taking the green jobs.

Robinson admitted green jobs in apple picking are “a lot of work.” A single picker is likely to move about 8,000 pounds of apples over the course of a nine-hour day. However, if they don’t fill these green jobs, growers could be facing more loss to their harvest. A single frost can ruin the crop.


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