Job : Tumbarumba Blueberries, Snowy Mountains, NSW – Blueberry Picking
The blueberry harvest season runs from late December to mid March each year.
The main focus of the business is export with all blueberries destined for these markets hand harvested. This is a labour intensive operation and requires large numbers of pickers.
Work commences at approximately 7.00am each morning Monday to Friday or as the weather permits.
Hand harvest usually concludes at 1.00pm to 2.00 pm as the weather is usually too hot for harvest after this time.
Blueberries cannot be harvested wet therefore any dew or rain must not be present. We are unable to control the weather and therefore no harvest will be possible on rainy days.
The packing shed is also in operation at this time which sees all the days hand harvested fruit packed as well as machine harvested fruit processed . The packing shed is operated in shifts by a number of different staff. A rotating shift is utilised that sees different tasks undertaken on rotating days. These shifts are made up at the start of the season and are on a first in basis. A priority list is then established to take the place of those that leave or do not meet the picking criteria. This criterion is based upon a minimum picking volume and ensures good pickers are rewarded with ongoing work.
The operating hours of the packing shed are usually 8.30 am to 6.00 pm.
Picking blueberries is not difficult with all work carried out from the ground. The trees are no more than two meters tall and are easily accessed.
There are no thorns or any other impediment to the picker.
The fruit is grown in clusters with the fruit ripening gradually within each cluster.
Each tree is picked a number of times over the season with only the ripe fruit removed each time.
As with any fruit picking not everyone is suited to the task. Some people will find that they are unable to pick reasonable volumes of fruit.
It does however take a few days to master the picking technique.
To enable a satisfactory wage pickers need to be dedicated to the task and work undistracted.
Experience has also shown that females are far better at picking than males due to their dexterity and application to the job.
This however does not rule out all males as some of our best pickers in recent years have in fact been male.
Pickers are assigned to a team each with its own team leader. Teams have their own rows and varieties to pick.
The team leader is accountable for the quantity and quality harvested by their team.
The most effective picking method identified to date is to pick into a two litre container tied around the waist (allowing the use of two hands) and when full carefully placing the fruit from the container into a ten litre bucket.
At regular intervals the fruit is picked up from the end of the picking row where it is identified to the picker, tipped from the bucket into a bar coded tray and then transported to the packing shed where the blueberries are weighed, graded and packed.
Each picker is issued with a numbered and bar coded card that is scanned at the time of pick up. The card is scanned together with the tray the fruit is tipped into which allows later identification.
Picking is paid on piece rates of $3.00/kg for export quality fruit.
The average serious picker should be able to pick approximately 5 kgs per hour of export quality fruit.
Processed grade fruit is paid at the rate of $0.50 per kg however pickers are discouraged from picking anything other than export grade fruit. Picking any volume of process grade fruit will be uneconomical for the picker and picked consistently will result in the picker being asked to leave.
Shed work and any other tasks are paid by the hour. The adult wage is $14.85 per hour.
Payment of wages will be by way of electronic transfer to each individuals bank account. To enable payment it is critically important to have correct banking details that include a 6 digit BSB and Account Number. For accuracy it is best obtain this from a deposit slip or bank book.
The pay week runs from Wednesday to Tuesday with funds available on or before Friday of each week.
All employees are required to complete a Government Employment Declaration together with a Tumbarumba Blueberry Producers Application for Employment Form and Work Place Agreement.
All employees are required to have a tax file number, Australian Residency or an Australian Government approved working visa.
The harvest season is a minimum of 10 weeks long and preference is given to people who are interested in staying for the full season.
FACILITIES and ACCOMMODATION<>br
The main location for accommodation is at the Tumbarumba Creek Caravan Park which is located beside the Tumbarumba Creek in Tumbarumba
This is a very picturesque location and offers excellent facilities onsite and is within a very short walk of the town centre where there are the usual supermarkets, takeaway, chemist, clothing stores, hotels etc.
Sporting facilities and activities within walking distance of the Caravan Park include: Swimming at the town pool across the road from the park; Golf on the 9 hole course; Tennis courts are available for hire; Netball and basketball courts are beside the park; Cricket and baseball fields are across the road; Fishing in the creek that runs through the park and in Mannus lake a short drive away; Squash courts are available for hire; Table tennis, badminton and volleyball are all available at the Caravan Park
The facilities at the blueberry orchard include clean amenities, fresh drinking water, shady areas and also drink and food vending machines.
Important items for blueberry picking include sturdy footwear, long sleeved top and protection from the sun.
Packing shed workers will be required to wear enclosed footwear and appropriate clothing for a controlled atmosphere packing room.
Location: New South Wales
Duration: Jan Feb Mar Dec
Job Type: Fruit Picking