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Farm Worker - 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 Workers work long days in the orchards, or in sheds, barns, and shops, and much of the work is seasonal.

  • Tasks often include tractor work and equipment maintenance. Although the work is mechanized or partially mechanized where possible, a lot of the work has to be done by hand.
  • Farm workers require minimal or no supervision; operate farm machinery and equipment; and acquire skills/knowledge through a combination of on-the-job training, formal training, and experience. Typically, farm workers need some secondary school education and up to two years of occupational training or farm experience.

Typical Job Titles

  • Field Person
  • Fruit Farm Worker
  • Tractor Operator
  • Machinery/Equipment Operator
  • Experienced Farm Worker/Field Person
  • Orchard Horticulture Worker
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What are the major tasks associated to this job?

Farm Workers perform activities related 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 
  • Propagate fruit trees 
  • Establish orchard site 
  • Prune trees 
  • Plant trees 
  • Construct and maintain trellis system 
  • Maintain and spray trees and orchard floor 
  • Apply fertilizer 
  • Irrigate and maintain irrigation system 
  • Train and maintain trees 
  • Thin fruit 
  • Harvest apples 
  • Perform post-harvest operations 
  • Use equipment, tools and technology 
  • Assist with equipment maintenance 
  • 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?

Workers are at the core of any farming operation – the people who actually do the work. They are also the people who are promoted to supervisory roles and/or trained to become technical specialists. 

  • Apple Farm Workers who apply themselves (and complete the necessary training) may eventually move up to supervisory or technical roles.

Are there opportunities for growth in this job?

In larger operations, Apple Farm Workers are often moved laterally – from one position to another within the same category. This lateral movement gives workers broader experience and prepares them for technical or supervisory roles. 

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.