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Strong demand for stonefruit but lack of pickers

Many stone fruit growers are facing the tough decision to not harvest some of their fruit this season as they scramble to secure enough workers to get their fresh produce picked in time.

While farmers report strong consumer demand and great eating quality for this season's apricots, nectarines and peaches, some just can't find enough workers to pick and pack all their fruit as the numbers of seasonal workers and backpackers dwindle due to COVID-19 border restrictions and overseas travel.

President of the Swan Hill Summerfruit Development Association and Lake Boga grower, Michael Tripodi, said moving into peak season, the labour shortage was a major challenge.

"There could be farmers just walking away from blocks of nectarines and peaches, because you can't get it harvested," he said.

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