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Australian fruit growers concerned over crops and backpackers

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Fruit growers are concerned they may lose valuable crops if there aren’t enough pickers, as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 

Fruit growers are concerned they may lose valuable crops if there aren't enough pickers, as the coronavirus pandemic continues. 

"One of the biggest issues comes down to backpackers, tourists, people trying to get working visas and things like that, those people have gone home," grape grower Jodi Marsh said. 

"The trouble is then the reliance of our local people to be able to do that and typically in the past we've needed more than that and pick what we want to pick."

Victoria's Chaplin Orchards Owner Trevor Chaplin said prime fruit picking season is just weeks away. 

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"In three to four weeks it's going to happen, whether there's enough pickers there and whether the virus has spread among the groups. The thing that worries me is they travel in mini-buses together," he said.

"It's very hard. We do rely on these seasonal workers because they do know what they're doing. It's not easy work."

Fruit Growers Victoria is urging growers to steer clear from hiring pickers from metro areas.

Industry Development Officer Michael Crisera said farmers need to have a close relationship with their staff.

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"We just don't know where they've been or who they've been in contact with. It's obviously important that we know our staff, who they've been in contact with and what they do when they go home."

The Macedon Ranges, south Gippsland and the Mornington Peninsula could struggle more than others.

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"Some regional, particularly the cool climate areas are still going through harvest so you can't just pick up the phone and get pickers in your vineyard as easy as you could," said Wine Victoria Board Chair Angie Bradbury.

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Source: 9News

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