When the price of field corn nearly doubled last year, farmers responded. They added 10 million acres to the planting schedule this spring.
You dont want to do that with eggplant.
On the other hand, if you grow standard eggplant and are getting $8 a box, why not shift some toward Chinese or Indian eggplant and get $30 a box?
Not a million acres, but maybe five or 10.
Prices are good if you know what to grow, and how much of it, said Bill Sciarappa, a Rutgers University Extension agent.
While its enticing to think of selling exotic peppers for $25 a box instead of $6 a box for bells with not much additional effort, he said the other possibility is also real: A grower could invest thousands of dollars to grow a crop that sits on the dock because theres no demand for it.
» Read more
When Gregory Billikopf goes into a field to watch farm workers pick produce, its not hard for him to figure out their pay system. If theyre all moving together in a row across the field, with no one too far ahead or too far behind, theyre probably being paid by the hour.
When theyre paid by the hour, the fastest worker works no faster than the slowest one, he said.
Billikopf, a labor management farm adviser for the University of California (UC), said an hourly pay system leads to unproductive workers. He recommends a piece-rate system, where workers are paid for the amount of work they do, not how long it takes them to do it. The piece-rate system has to be properly designed, however. If its improperly designed, the results are much the same as with the hourly system.
The proper piece-rate design permits employees to maximize
» Read more
The shortage of farm workers growers had been fearing had not shown up by Memorial Day. And with Congress hotly debating new immigration policy that might take the pressure off the thousands of undocumented seasonal workers, growers were decidedly less nervous.
There were some early-season scares. When it came time to pick asparagus in Michigan about May 1, growers were not able to keep up with the harvest.
Theres a major problem out there, Todd Greiner said. There is asparagus being mowed down because there is no labor to pick it. Its real bad.
Growers come in and want to know if we know of any workers available. We tell them were having a hard time on our own farm. We do have an ample supply in the packing shed.
In Michigan, asparagus is a bellwether crop the first to dip into the migrant worker stream for
» Read more
Well, it finally happened the long awaited legislation to reform immigration and tighten U.S. borders finally came to Congress for debate. The AgJOBS provisions many farm groups wanted is in the package, along with provisions that would change U.S. immigration law in unprecedented ways.
It is not clear these provisions can in fact pass.
It seems now that the best course, for farmers, is to stick with a plan they were putting in place before the developments described on page one of this issue occurred. They need to make it clear that United States agriculture needs a work force that includes foreign workers.
Fruit and vegetable growers need to convince their members of Congress its safe for them to vote for immigration control measures that include allowing foreign workers access to farm work in the United States.
And to do that, they need to convince the general
» Read more