May 12, 2015
Lack of labor puts Michigan asparagus harvest on hold

Michigan asparagus is ready to be harvested, but a lack of labor is putting things on hold.

And this isn’t a new issue.

Here’s more from WZZM13, a television station based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Asparagus farmers in Oceana started harvesting last week, but already some farmers are mowing crop down because they don't have enough workers. Last week alone, farmers mowed down several thousand pounds that could have gone to market.

It's something that seems to keep happening, according to Bakker. “We have been struggling with having enough labor for a number of years now. This year seems to be perhaps the worst we have ever seen.”

Fresh Michigan asparagus should be available for the next six to seven weeks. Even with the shortage of workers, farmers in Michigan are expected to grow around 20 million pounds of asparagus. Only the state of California grows more. Demand for Michigan asparagus might creep up this season because of a significant drought in California.

As the industry well knows, a lack of labor can lead to a number of things. Lower yields and higher prices are expected.

According to WZZM, Michigan pickers are paid about $14 an hour, but there is very little interest to hand pick the crop.

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