H2A program hampers harvest season for growers

New York shovels out apple orchards from last week's snow

New York’s apple pickers worked to harvest the estimated 28 million bushels of apples last fall, a crop that was ample and enjoyed favorable weather. As with many other northeastern states, New York was also dealing with snow. 

Orchards had to be shoveled out from the amount of snow dumped on January 4. Maintenance and pruning aside, Sarah Dressel of Dressel Farms says they’re packing Macintosh currently. “We had a really big nice crop this year so we’re steadily packing it away. The fruit is moving well so we’re happy.” 

Traditional varieties like red delicious are still holding onto places in the market, even with the recent launch of RubyFrost and SnapDragon (which can only be grown in NY state). Dressel says red delicious is still very popular, as is Honeycrisp, which is gaining space in the market. “Red delicious went out very quickly,” she notes. Dressel’s fruit is sold by Hudson River Fruit Distributors, which she points out know of the proper markets to distribute particular apple varieties to. “They know areas where red delicious is still alarmingly popular.”

Dressel says she continues to deal with the hassles of the H2A program. “It’s expensive, it’s bulky to work with.” It would seem that all of the paperwork gets in the way of start times. Last year she put in an early request. “They were a week late last year so this year we requested a start date of a week earlier so we could be on time and they arrived three weeks later than the request.” Her year-round staff stepped up, whom she relied heavily on until the workers arrived. “They were troupers – they got us through.”

It was a good year for New York apples; Dressel’s setting up for another successful one. “The whole state did well. There’s no reason to think that this upcoming year won’t be even better.”

Sarah Dressel
Dressel Farms
Ph: 845 255 0693

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