There are two main types of orchards that hire agricultural workers in the United States.
First, jobs are available at large orchards producing food for major companies who use the fruit in food products. Most of these orchards work with a single corporation, and they may be independent to flat-out owned by the corporation. Secondly, you can work in an agricultural job at a smaller orchard that services a community. Many of these orchards have pick-you-own options and tours, so they also might fall into the “agri-tainment” category.
Orchards come in all shapes and sizes and are found in every state in the United States. A few regions can support tropical and subtropical species, but the most common types of fruits are those that can thrive in temperate areas. These include tree fruits like apples, cherries, pears, peaches, and plums, as well as berries like blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Less common plants that you might come across include apricots, bayberries, chestnuts, pecans, and persimmons, and although they are not in traditionally “orchards,” cranberries also fall into this category of farm work.
Like with other crops, your main job as an orchard employee will be ensuring that the plants are healthy and producing as much as possible. You could be responsible for running machinery, inspecting trees and bushes, harvesting fruits and nuts, fertilizing, applying pesticides, pruning, and more. Sometimes work is done fully by hand, and other times it is more automated.
If you work at a smaller family-owned orchard, you could also find yourself responsible for tasks such as selling products at farmer’s markets, transporting products to supermarkets and other buyers, giving tours, and helping to run festivals and pick-your-own parts of the business.
Minimum wage is the norm for entry-level positions when working in an orchard, but fruit is a crop with a high potential for profit, so owners can often afford to pay more to workers at this kind of farm.