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Farm Labourer - Apple Production

 Lydia Schouten

Apple Farming Overview

The ‘tree fruit and vine’ industry includes farms that produce all types of tree fruits such as apples and cherries and tree nuts such as hazelnuts.

  • Work in the tree fruit industry is labour intensive, requiring extensive hand-picking and packaging. It’s also subject to the most pronounced seasonal pattern of any agricultural industry. As a result, the industry relies more heavily on foreign workers to meet its labour requirements.

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Apple Farm Labourers perform a wide variety of tasks that depend on the type of operation. Much of the work is seasonal, and many are only hired for the harvest period.

  • Apple Farm Labourers typically work long days in orchards, or in packing sheds, barns, and shops. During harvest time 70 hour weeks are not uncommon. Although the work is mechanized or partially mechanized where possible, a lot of the work has to be done by hand.
  • Farm Labourers are fully supervised, may operate farm machinery, and acquire skills/ knowledge through on-the-job-training. Typically, farm labourers need no formal education or prior farm experience.

Typical Job Titles

  • Apple Picker
  • Fruit Farm Labourer
  • Line Labourer
  • Packing House Labourer / Sorter / Packer / Line Labourer
  • Orchard Maintenance Labourer
  • Harvester
  • Assistant Pruner
  • Seasonal – Casual General Farm Worker / Farm Assistant
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What are the major tasks associated to this job?

Farm Labourers assist with activities relating to planting, cultivating, and harvesting crops.

  • Comply with legislation and regulations 
  • Follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) 
  • Maintain the health and safety of self and others 
  • Follow on-farm food safety procedures 
  • Follow environmentally sustainable work practices 
  • Assist with the propagation of trees 
  • Assist with the preparation of orchard site 
  • Prune trees 
  • Assist with the planting of trees 
  • Assist with trellis system construction and maintenance 
  • Maintain trees and orchard floor 
  • Irrigate and maintain irrigation system 
  • Assist with the training maintenance of trees 
  • Assist with fruit thinning 
  • Harvest apples 
  • Perform post-harvest operations 
  • Use equipment, tools and technology 
  • Assist with the maintenance of equipment 
  • Apply knowledge specific to growing apples 

What competencies are required for this job?

These competencies were identified as most important for successful job performance.

  • Agriculture Health and Safety
  • Environmentally Sustainable Work Practices
  • Apple Production
  • Teamwork
  • Adaptibility 
  • Achievement Orientation
  • Continuous Learning
  • Attention to Detail 

What attracts people to this job?

This job is a good starting point for people seeking temporary or long term employment. In most cases it is not necessary to have tree fruit experience or even any formal working experience, nor is it necessary to have a high school diploma.

Are there opportunities for growth in this job?

Apple Farm Labourers that gain experience and learn to perform more complex tasks and activities will become an experienced Worker. With more production experience and some training courses, they can become specialized in some aspect of apple production, or can become farm supervisors to manage a crew.

What are the typical pay rates and benefits for this job?

Depending on the operation and the region of Canada, pay for this job ranges, but tends to be hourly at minimum wage or slightly higher.

  • Health and dental benefits are possible for full time year round workers.