East Texas farmer says tough year to find pea-pickers - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas farmer says tough year to find pea-pickers

Source: KTRE Source: KTRE
Source: KTRE Source: KTRE
Source: KTRE Source: KTRE

Otis Harbuck has been tending to farms for 24 years.

Despite the fluctuating weather, Harbuck said peas are able to endure long dry weather.

“We've had some dry spells. I'm sure to welcome a shower in here,” Harbuck said.

However, a good year for crop presented another challenge. The East Texas farmer said it's been a tough year for find good workers to pick purple hull peas. While the harvest has been abundant, the farmer had to plan months in advance to find an alternate solution: a machine which picks purple hull peas.

The heat of the day, they're (pickers) getting limited. It can be on up there trying to be out in the middle of the field trying to pick,” Harbuck said.

The farmer said each year he averages about 20 pea pickers, but this year he has 14. This meant he had to find a solution.

“To alleviate the problem, my son was interested in this business, said dad we need to buy a machine,” Harbuck said.

It takes the machine for a whole row moving at a pace of 0.9 miles per hour about 10 minutes. On the flip side, it takes the hand pickers, picking a bushel an hour at fourth of the row.

While the machine cuts the time, Harbuck said it doesn't differentiate between mature and immature peas, something the seasoned pickers do really well.

“You get a better quality match grade pea with pickers,” Harbuck said.

Learning lesson this year, the farmer said investing in the crop picking machine this spring has saved a lot of money in labor.


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