What is the Best Way to Pay Harvest Workers?

What is the Best Way to Pay Harvest Workers?

There are a few different ways to pay harvest workers, and the best way will depend on several factors, such as the type of crop being harvested, the location of the farm, and the size of the farm. There are three options that seem to work the best. Paying by piece, paying by hour, or a combination of both.

Is it Paying Piece Wage?

First, we’ll dive into paying by piece, which is the driving force for some of our labor tracking solutions such as FairPick and FairTrak. This can be a good way to motivate workers to work harder, but it can also lead to workers feeling exploited if they are not paid enough for their work, which is why it is crucial to set appropriate rates for each respective task that they are getting paid by piece.

Luckily, with 2nd Sight’s online portal capabilities administration can specifically set up piece rates for every single task that an employee may be doing on the farm. Additionally, it also allows administrators to retroactively adjust those rates at any given time if the employees are struggling with productivity or you would like to increase their pay for that given item or time frame. When paying by piece our system ensures that those employees will always be making at least minimum wage even if they do not make over minimum wage via piece rate.

What About Paying Hourly Wage?

Next, let’s talk a little about straight up hourly pay. Hourly pay allows the employer to set given rates for each respective task. The hourly rate is effective because you can pay workers different hourly rates by the task, but one thing that it does not track well compared to piece rate is you cannot track productivity well. You can have an employee doing half the work as another employee while getting paid the same amount, which can be extremely discouraging for the hard-working employee. The hourly rate does not provide the incentive to work harder when compared to piece wages.

Can We Combine the Two?

Does piece wage sound like a good idea, but you don’t want to deter from hourly? How about just paying your employees a combination of the two. For example, workers might be paid a piece rate for the first few hours of work, and then an hourly wage for the remaining hours. Another combination option would be paying your workers hourly, with a piece rate bonus. This can be a good way to motivate workers to work hard and produce more, while also ensuring that they are paid a fair wage.


Ultimately, the best way to pay harvest workers is the way that best meets the needs of the farm and the workers, while ensuring that they are paid fairly and accurately, that all legal requirements are met, and that clear instructions are provided to avoid any misunderstandings. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the best approach will vary depending on the specific circumstances.

Not So Conventional Farming

Farming for Love?

In January, I trotted from one ag trade show to another. My final outing in January was the Pacific Agriculture show in Abbotsford, British Columbia. While I was behind the booth waiting to greet customers old and new, a rather attractive young woman approached my booth – what a surprise! She then asked if I was single, and now I knew we were trending in the right direction. I swiftly answered “yes,” after which, she handed me a pamphlet about a new Canadian reality TV show for single farmers known as “Farming for Love.” This was not exactly the turn of events I anticipated.

Sadly, I do not reside in British Columbia and, although I work in the ag industry, I am not a farmer. The encounter gave me a good laugh, and it created an opening for some great conversations with my fellow exhibitors.

If you are a single farmer living in British Columbia, you might want to consider applying for a spot on the show. Check it out at Or, perhaps you know a single farmer looking for a relationship. You can anonymously apply for a friend. We hope to see one of our customers on the air soon.

Amazon Fresh Greenhouses

Amazon has its fingers in everything from prescription drugs, electronics, pantry food, and now:  fresh produce?  Now, Amazon is selling leafy green lettuce less than two years after investing in climate-tech startup Hippo Harvest.

Backed by Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund, Hippo Harvest aims to reduce food waste and land use by growing food in greenhouses using robotics. According to Hippo Harvest, its greens are grown using 92% less water and 55% less fertilizer than conventional produce. It farms its lettuce mixes in greenhouses close to the customer base using machine learning and robots.

Currently, only Amazon Fresh customers in the San Francisco market can buy these greens, but Amazon may scale up quickly, and lettuce greens are not the only food Amazon is eyeing, as it looks to the future of farming. Amazon Fresh recently transitioned to selling only cage-free eggs, including through Amazon's brand Happy Belly. Amazon also wants to source pork from farmers who do not use gestation crates with the goal of having it widely available in Amazon grocery stores in 2025.

With such a large customer base, it’s important to keep tabs on Amazon’s actions as they relate to the agricultural industry, especially when Amazon considers adding niche fruit like blueberries and cherries to its offerings.

An Abnormally Short Chilean Blueberry Season

South American growers have overshadowed US dominance in blueberry production in recent years. Today, the world’s largest blueberry producers reside in Peru, Chile, and Mexico. During the North American off-season South American producers are pumping out blueberries in great volume, essentially ensuring that blueberries appear in US grocery stores year-round.

Generally, the Chilean blueberry harvest runs as late as the third week of March, but this year Chile has experienced unprecedented heat. This excess heat led to poor fruit conditions, halting production by 50 percent in some regions and altogether in others. Experts say that the Chilean harvest is almost finished even though it is only late February. This setback for Chilean producers will lower the volume of imported blueberries, which may lead to a temporary price increase.

Chile’s South American peers are doing their best to take advantage of Chile’s short season. Peru and Mexico are expected to have successful harvests through early April, keeping those delicious little berries in our refrigerators before our North American peers begin their 2023 blueberry harvest.

Overtime Pay

Overtime Pay

New overtime thresholds for agricultural workers will go into effect on January 1, 2023. In Washington, employers must pay overtime to agricultural workers who work more than 48 hours in a work week. Oregon’s threshold is a little higher – employers will have to pay overtime when their employees work more than 55 hours in a week. In California, overtime pay kicks in if an employee works more than 8 hours in one day. The weekly threshold is 40 hours per week. California overtime for the agriculture sector will apply to all employers starting in 2025. Colorado, New York, Minnesota, and Hawaii all have overtime pay requirements for agricultural workers. 2nd Sight’s labor tracking solutions – FairPick, FairPick Flex, and FairTrak – allow employers to monitor overtime. Stay ahead of overtime pay; consider one of 2nd Sight’s labor tracking solutions.

New Leasing Options

Many growers have told us that the upfront cost of a FairPick, FairPick Flex or FairTrak gives them pause. To remedy this, 2nd Sight has come up with a leasing plan that makes obtaining these labor tracking systems more affordable. Now, growers can lease equipment for three or five years at a reduced cost. While 2nd Sight is confident that growers would get a return on their outright purchase investment in one year, now growers will see an ROI even faster. In addition, our Daily, Pay Period and Overtime reports give growers the information they need to know at the touch of a button. Who could ask for more than that? Contact us today to learn more about your leasing options.

Out and About

2nd Sight employees have been out and about this time of year attending tradeshows and visiting customers. In the last few months, 2nd Sight has had booths at 2 trade shows in California and at the NW Hort Show in Wenatchee. We have been in Savannah, GA at the Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference, in Salem, Oregon, at NW Ag Show, in Abbotsford, BC, at the Pacific Ag Show. We held a demonstration for a potential customer in Othello, WA, and our CEO has visited our largest customer– they have so many FairPicks, they call it their army. If you are interested in seeing a demonstration, we may be able to come in person. If not, we can always arrange a demo on Zoom. Reach out today and set up a time to see our labor tracking solutions.