ZILLAH, Wash. - In just a few days, Rick Derrey will begin harvesting his cherry crop, but he's concerned he won't have enough pickers.
Right now Derrey has about eight people working for him at 3D Orchards, but he's going to need at least 50 in order to pick the crop before the cherries get too ripe, he said.
"Cherries have to be picked in a pretty narrow window because they ripen quickly, and they need to be harvested as soon as they are ripe," Derrey said. "If you let them get over ripe, they get soft and they won't be packaged and they won't be sold."
But this isn't the first time Derrey has had to worry about a picker shortage.
"We've had close or near shortages in the past and it seems at the last minute we find enough people to get finished," he said.
Derrey hopes that won't be the case this time around, but until he actually begins picking he won't know for sure.
If worse comes to worse, Derrey said he will have to look at using other resources.
"Employment agencies, word of mouth, neighbors, whatever the case maybe," he said.
If that doesn't work, the financial outcome could be devastating, Derrey said. He just hopes it doesn't have to come down to that.