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4 Tips for Optimizing the Harvest Season

| January 11, 2023 | By

When harvesting time comes around, you know how important it is to do everything you can to make it successful. You want everything you grow to be picked, plucked, and pulled from the ground at the right time and with as little waste as possible.

In addition to maintaining your equipment, training your laborers, and creating their work schedules, there are other things you can do to prepare your farm or orchard for maximum productivity. This post will cover the top actions you can take to operate efficiently during the harvest season:

Tips for Making the Most of Harvest Season

If you’re like many farmers, you love your farm as much as Hank Hill loves propane. (Maybe even more!) The season of harvesting and the gathering of crops—the whole process—lets you see your hard work pay off and reminds you exactly why you chose to farm.

To elevate your harvesting activities and achieve more efficiency this season, take the following actions:

Track Employee Hours and Productivity

Paper time cards and schedules posted on the wall might work for a small farm with only a handful of employees, but paper only gets you so far. This is especially true when your harvesting process involves several types of crops or if you have a large-scale operation with dozens or hundreds of employees.

Instead of tracking employee hours the old-fashioned way, you can use a badging system that automatically tracks clock-in and clock-out times. With a quick swipe of each employee badge, you immediately know who’s working and where. By automating the time collection process, you can improve timesheet accuracy, reduce errors, and avoid the hassle of managing too much paper.

Crew bosses and field managers can also use an integrated mobile app to track employee productivity. By recording piece counts for each picker, pruner, and warehouse employee on your farm, you don’t have to wait until the end of the day to see how much employees have harvested. 

Understand Your Labor Costs in Real Time

At a time when farmworker wages are steadily increasing year over year (the gross farmworker wage grew by 7 percent from 2021 to 2022), it’s critical to use technology to manage your regular payroll and overtime expenses.

Instead of waiting until the end of the pay period to know how much you’re paying employees during harvest time, you can use modern farm management technology to see a breakdown of employee hours worked and the resulting payroll expense. Using smart reporting tools and dashboards, you can track your payroll costs by time period, job type, and location—all in real-time.

Keep Employees Informed

Communicating with your employees is an important part of a successful harvest. Throughout the harvest season, you’ll need to ensure employees understand expectations and have plenty of training to do their jobs well.

It’s also critical to ensure employees have insight into their hours, production totals, and pay. A modern farm labor solution makes it easy for employees to get this information. Instead of having them go to a crew boss or field manager to review their hours or production, keep employees informed by providing their information in a user-friendly web app or directly to their phone with SMS summaries.

Automate Quality-Control Tracking

Coming across damaged or bruised produce is an unavoidable fact of nature. But when you have an effective way to manage quality control during harvest, you can take appropriate actions quicker. With the help of a simple app, you can take quality control notes and photos of the following occurrences:

  • Insect damage
  • Produce bruised after picking
  • Discolored produce
  • Evidence of improper picking (e.g., stemless cherries)

By catching these quality issues early, you can determine where to target additional employee training before the harvest is over.

Optimize Your Harvest

Having a successful harvest is about quality and quantity. Just as you want to harvest every bit of produce on your farm, you also want your employees and warehouse activities to work efficiently. Agricultural labor management technology supports those goals by helping you understand how much your employees are harvesting, the quality of what they pick, and much more. For additional insights, subscribe to our blog.