On the Site:


Utah County Cherry Farmers Struggling To Find Workers

Jun 25, 2021, 5:47 PM | Updated: 8:29 pm

PAYSON, Utah – As the 2021 cherry harvest season quickly approaches, fruit farmers in Utah County said they have had a tough time finding workers to process the cherries.

Every time Robert McMullin heads out into his field, he can feel it.  

“There’s nothing better than nature,” he said as he picked through some cherry trees. “It just makes my soul feel good to just be able to walk out and go in the orchard.” 

McMullin owns McMullin Orchards in Payson.

He said he’s happy with his crop of cherries this year, but he’s not sure what’s going to happen next.

“Yes, we’re worried,” said McMullin. “Thank goodness we don’t have as big of a crop as we normally do.” 

McMullin said he’s worried about having enough workers this season.  

He has enough workers to harvest the cherries, including using a mechanical harvester, but he said he can’t find enough workers to process them.

In the past, fruit farmers have relied on high school students or adults looking for a little extra money to do the job, which lasts about three weeks. This season, those same workers have not been applying.

“This year, with a 2.5% unemployment rate in Utah County, and they’re paying 12 bucks an hour at McDonalds, you know, it’s just getting tough,” said McMullin.  

Many industries, like restaurants and fast-food places, have also struggled to find workers this year. 

To make things even more challenging, Curtis Rowley with the Payson Fruit Growers, said the government work visa program that farmers use for migrant workers in the field doesn’t apply for those workers who do the processing inside.  

McMullin has struggled to find people who want to work inside his cherry processing plant. (Winston Armani, KSL TV) (Winston Armani, KSL TV)

“This year, we’re just really struggling to find the help that we need,” said Rowley. “I know that they’re trying to get to 500 people to help in the plants, somewhere in that 500 range. We’re way below that. We’re hundreds below that right now.”  

It means either fewer high-quality cherries going to market because the processing will last longer, or some of those cherries just won’t be processed in time and go to waste.  

Since the next harvest and processing is two to three weeks away, McMullin said there is still time to find workers. However, in the past, he has already had most of his workers lined up by now.

“We do the best we can and we leave the rest. That’s all we can do,” said McMullin. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

(KSL TV)...

Lindsay Aerts

Student accused of attacking Kearns High teacher has special needs, district says

The Granite School district is now investigating what it calls an “egregious” attack on a teacher in the classroom. That teacher is said to be recovering, as is an Assistant Principal and a resource officer who assisted the teacher.

2 hours ago

(KSL TV)...

Shelby Lofton

Park City vet thinks he’s treated dogs with mysterious respiratory illness

A Park City veterinarian suspects he has treated dogs with a mysterious respiratory illness reported in other states, but a state veterinarian says Utah still has no confirmed cases.

2 hours ago

After a yearlong fight for a copy of the Utah attorney general’s schedule, KSL’s attorneys have...

Annie Knox and Daniella Rivera

KSL files motion seeking release of AG’s calendar in public records fight

After a yearlong fight for a copy of the Utah attorney general’s schedule, KSL’s attorneys have asked a judge to order the release of the records, without the case going to trial.

2 hours ago

The news of the Winter Games coming to Salt Lake City in 2034 was huge for young Utah athletes with...

Dan Rascon

Young athletes excited, looking forward to 2034 Olympics

The news of the Winter Games coming to Salt Lake City in 2034 was huge for young Utah athletes with Olympic dreams on their mind.

2 hours ago

FILE: The New SLC Airport. (Jed Boal/KSL-TV)...

Eliza Pace

Hawaiian Airlines announces daily nonstop flights between SLC and Honolulu

Hawaiian Airlines announced sales for daily nonstop service between Salt Lake City and Honolulu. 

3 hours ago

The National Park Service announced Wednesday that Kolob Canyons Road in Zion National Park is back...

Mark Jones

Kolob Canyons Road now open in Zion National Park, NPS announces

The National Park Service announced Wednesday that Kolob Canyons Road in Zion National Park is back open.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Utah County Cherry Farmers Struggling To Find Workers