Local orchard short on workers to help with apple harvest

CASTLETON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Apple season is quickly approaching, but local farmers are facing some challenges with getting help.

Driving through Goold Orchards, owner Ed Miller showed off his fresh apple crop.

“There’s a good crop and really good quality,” he said.

He credits most of it to lots of rain.

“It was good, ideal growing weather, and the rain just helps to size them,” he said.

The apples have been growing so well that Miller said they’re running ahead of schedule. While it’s good news, it’s also a problem. Miller doesn’t have the help to harvest them, yet.

“I’m hoping that they’re going to get here pretty soon because the crop is ready,” he said.

Miller gets his workers through the H-2A program, which allows him to bring in labor from outside the country. They’ve usually arrived by this time of year, but this year, Miller’s had issues with paperwork.

“It’s a fighting battle to get these workers and get the paperwork done correctly,” he said.

Miller said current immigration reform hasn’t helped.

“We don’t get them until the government clears the job orders to allow the men to come into the country,” he said.

At this point, he’ll have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks.

“We deal with everything as a farmer because Mother Nature is the silent partner that tells us what to do,” he said.

Apple picking at Goold’s starts Labor Day weekend.

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