Harvest Work - Stone Fruit
I thought a stone fruit was some kind of new Australian breed of fruit, but it just refers to plums, peaches,
nectarines and the like which have pits and are soft. Stonefruit pickers are often given an
hourly wage because the fruit bruises easily and has to be picked carefully, but not always.
I didn't have to pick them thankfully, but one group of people on the pear farm I was on had to break
away and pick peaches for awhile. The farmer paid the same rate as with pears, even though the
picking was much slower because they had to colour pick and had to be more gentle. The thing that
really makes peaches bad is the fuzzy stuff. It gets all over your face and in places like the back of your
knees and other side of your elbows and itches like hell. Many people can't stand it or might be allergic.
Usually people picking peaches will be powdered up with talcum powder to prevent the itching.
Nectarines are picked the same way but don't have the itch-factor. Peach trees are quite small but can be planted
on uneven ground making ladder placement difficult.
Never picked plums, but I know in Donnybrook the plum farms use fancy platform machines so you
don't have to go up and down a ladder. Plums have to be treated with care as well, so an hourly wage is
likely, generally between $10-$12.