Fruit & Tropical Crop Growing Jobs
Some farms in the United States are in tropical regions, so the crops they grow are very different from the crops found in other regions of the country. While the basic farming work is the same (plant, maintain, harvest), tropical crops have their own peculiarities.
In other words, if you’ve worked on corn farms your entire life, the work you’ll do on a mango farm will be very different.
Hawaii and Florida are the two states that have tropical climates. In Hawaii, the crops grown (that aren’t grown in most other parts of the United States) include avocado, banana, coffee, guava, lychee, macadamia, mango, papaya, persimmon, pineapple, and taro. In Florida, these crops include avocado, cantaloupe, grapefruit, guava, lime, mango, orange, papaya, and passion fruit. Sugarcane is also produced in both states.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular tropical crops grown in the United States:
Sugarcane is actually a type of grass that grows in warm climates. It can be harvested by hand or mechanically, though machines are most common in the United States. Hand harvesting takes much longer, but the stalk isn’t damaged as much, which means it loses less sugar content. In both cases, the stalk is cut just above the ground in the fall. The plant will grow again without replanting, and most farmers don’t replant for at least two years. When replanting does take place, workers use special machines to set new cuttings of the cane into the ground during late winter or very early spring.
Oranges are popularly known as one of Florida’s main crops, and this state has farms that grown a number of varieties. They grow on trees and are extremely temperature-sensitive, which means they don’t grow well anywhere north of Florida where frost is more common, though some varieties are also grown in southern California. While the fruits are developing, a major part of the orange farming job is to ensure that the trees are getting enough water. Oranges are harvested around the year, depending on variety, and over 95% of Florida oranges are picked by hand, so these farms hire a lot of workers.
Although most common in Florida, some varieties of grapefruit can also be successfully grown in Texas, Arizona, and California. The United States is the leading producer of this fruit, with the most popular varieties being Ruby Red, Pink, and Thompson. They’re ready for workers to harvest them by September or October every year, but can be kept on the tree up until May, which means that they’re in season and workers are needed during the fall, winter, and spring every year. Some farms use a machine to shake the tree and collect the fruit, but many still hire workers to collect the fruit by hand.
Hawaii is the only state in the United States that has a climate suitable for growing coffee, though it is also grown in some areas of Puerto Rico. Traditionally, coffee seedlings are transplanted by hand when they are about six months old, and they are pruned by hand every year to remove older growth. The fruit of the plant, called cherries, are picked of the course of several months as they ripen.
Macadamia nuts grow on evergreen trees in Hawaii are account for some of the most lucrative farms in this state. The trees start producing after about four years, and nuts are harvested from July to the following May annually. Some varieties are picked from the tree, but most are harvested from the ground below the tree, as they are only fully ripe when they drop. Agricultural workers are in high demand in Hawaii, and many farms resort to using large sweepers to collect the nuts, though manual harvesting is preferred, simply because they don’t have enough workers.