Washington orchards desperate for apple pickers



YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Apple growers in Washington state say they could have had one of their best harvests ever — if they’d had enough workers to pick the fruit.

Washington growers produce about half of the nation’s apples. Their harvest has been late this year because the growing season got off to a slow start with a cold, wet spring.

Farmers say some migrant workers didn’t stick around to wait for the harvest. Others never came because of border crackdowns on Mexican workers entering the country.

Jeff Pheasant says he usually has 65 pickers during peak harvest at his orchard near Soap Lake. This year, he only had 50, and many were inexperienced.

Many growers posted “pickers wanted” signs outside their orchards and asked neighbors to send prospective workers their way.