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Immigration crackdown biting into apple industry?

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BRIAN WATT: Washington state is the nation’s biggest apple producer. The industry is worth more than a billion dollars to the state, but this year’s crop might fall short. From Seattle Jason Paur reports.


JASON PAUR: Already peaches, nectarines and plums are being left on trees because growers in Washington can’t find workers to pick the fruit.

But apples are the state’s biggest crop and farmers are fearful their most lucrative harvest may suffer as well.

Mike Gempler is with the Washington Growers League.

He’s been getting a barrage of calls from growers who say they’re already behind schedule.

MIKE GEMPLER: We have had difficulty all summer thinning apples which is an important part of apple production. We still have people thinning apples, there over a month late getting done. It’s really unprecedented.

No one’s sure of the reasons for the shortage, but growers point to the crackdown on illegal immigration and the lure of higher paying jobs in construction.

I’m Jason Paur for Marketplace.

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