Solve This Grower’s U-Pick Problem

Solve This Grower Problem logoEditor’s note: This is a new monthly advice forum debuting in American Fruit Grower’s August issue.

Tony Ndoca, a GenNext Grower in Illinois, recently contacted American Fruit Grower and Western Fruit Grower looking for advice on running a U-Pick farm:

“The problem we have is how do we deal with people that pick things and decide they’re not going to buy them once they’re at the counter. Some people will pick things that they think is not good quality and throw it on the ground. I’m looking for answers to solve this problem of having people picking stuff in the field and dumping it out without buying it.”

We put that question out to our readers and here are some of the suggestions we received through Twitter and Facebook.com/GrowingProduce:

  • “We try to have staff constantly circulating in the orchard, observing customer behavior to ensure a positive experience.”
  • “We require a $5 per person admission which is then credited towards their purchase of what they pick.”
  • “Put more workers in the field to show people what, where, and how to pick.”

How do you prevent loses like this on your U-Pick farm? Do you have any advice for this young grower?

Have a problem that needs solving? Email Us to be included in next month’s spot.

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One comment on “Solve This Grower’s U-Pick Problem

  1. We run a u-pick blueberry operation and would not expect our customers to take home anything but good quality fruit. When the field quality drops to a certain level we shut down. We feel it is more important to maintain a good reputation and customer satisfaction than to try to squeeze out the last few dollars.
    That being said, different crops have different situations. You don’t say how widespread the problem is but you should expect it to a certain level. If you have too much less-than-perfect fruit you may need to find a secondary outlet and have the customers place lower quality fruit in a container for this purpose. As another responder suggested, you may need to provide more instruction for your customers, but sending the “police” into the field is a bad idea for customer relations.

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