Crop Worker Kaimahi Huangakai

Crop workers assist with the growing and harvesting of fruit, vegetables and other produce on farms, market gardens, orchards and vineyards.

Crop workers may do some or all of the following:

  • prepare soil for planting
  • plant crops such as grains, fruit, mushrooms, nuts or vegetables
  • maintain crops, which may involve weeding, spraying, pruning, thinning, fertilising and watering
  • check crops for quality
  • control pests and diseases
  • pick, sort and pack crops
  • operate vehicles and machinery such as forklifts, hydraladas, tractors and motorbikes
  • assist with general maintenance of buildings, fences and other structures.

Physical Requirements

Crop workers need to be reasonably fit, with strong arms and backs to do long periods of physical work. They should not have any allergies to plants, pollen, chemicals or fertilisers.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for crop workers includes:

  • gardening or farm work
  • supermarket work
  • any work involving physical labour
  • sports or other outdoor activities.

Personal Qualities

Crop workers need to be:

  • hard-working
  • reliable
  • quality focused with good attention to detail
  • efficient and practical
  • able to work as part of a team
  • able to follow instructions.

Skills

Crop workers need to have knowledge of:

  • growing and harvesting crops
  • crop diseases, weeds and pests and how to control them
  • local climate and weather conditions
  • food safety, market certification and quality requirements
  • applying agricultural fertilisers and chemicals
  • general maintenance and basic mechanics
  • assessing fruit or vegetables for ripeness, damage or size.

Conditions

Crop workers:

  • may start work early in the mornings or in the evening
  • may work long or irregular hours during harvesting
  • work on farms, orchards and vineyards, or in hothouses
  • work outside in most weather conditions
  • may have to travel to follow seasonal work.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a crop worker. However, agricultural and horticultural science is useful.

Year 11-12 learners can find out more about the horticulture industry and earn unit standards towards a New Zealand Certificate in Agriculture or Horticulture (Level 1 or 2) with the Trades Academy.

Year 12-13 learners can find out more about the horticulture industry and earn NCEA unit standards through the Primary ITO Gateway programme.

Crop Workers can earn around $21-$22 per hour.

Pay for crop workers varies depending on what they do and where they work.

  • New crop workers usually start on the minimum wage.
  • Crop workers with two to three years' experience usually earn between $21 and $22 an hour.
  • Crop workers who supervise others usually earn between $22 and $25 an hour.

Fruit and vegetable pickers may be paid by how much they pick. Harvest work usually pays more than pruning or thinning.

Sources: Horticulture New Zealand and Pick NZ, 2019.

Crop workers may move into team leader, shift supervisor or manager roles.

Crop workers may specialise in a number of roles, including:

Crop Monitor
Crop monitors check plants and trees for any pests and diseases and follow up on treatments.
Harvest Quality Controller
Harvest quality controllers take samples of fruit before and just after they are harvested to check their size, colour and quality.
Hydralada Operator
Hydralada operators use and maintain machinery to pick fruit off the tops of trees. 
Pruner
Pruners cut the branches of trees to improve a tree's growth and health.
Thinner
Thinners remove fruit from a tree that is of poor quality or not a standard size to improve the growth of other fruit.
Vineyard Worker
Vineyard workers help grow and pick grapes for wine production.

Years Of Training

There are no specific requirements to become a crop worker. However, horticultural knowledge or experience is useful.

Some employers support crop workers to gain horticulture qualifications on the job.

The Primary Industry Training Organisation (ITO) offers nursery, fruit and vegetable production courses and apprenticeships.

Crop Worker