The fruit picking season is well underway, but growers have been left short-handed and wondering where all the casual labour has gone.
Fruit growers in Victoria could have a shortfall of up to 3000 seasonal workers to pick their fruit.
Mike Crisera from Fruit Growers Victoria said the situation was a cause for concern.
"It's mostly with cherries and stone-fruit crops that we can't leave on the tree for long periods," Mr Crisera said.
He said it was difficult to calculate specific numbers, the shortage was significant.
"I'd say we're probably two to three thousand people short in this area."
Mr Crisera said that growers were looking to the federal-government-run Seasonal Worker Program to help alleviate casual-worker shortages in the future.
Tonnes of fruit left to rot
In Tasmania, one berry farm has contacted Fruit Growers Tasmania looking for more labour after they had to leave hundreds of tonnes of fruit to rot on the ground because there were not enough pickers available.
Phil Pike, business development manager for Fruit Growers Tasmania, said the farmer was not alone.
"That's a challenge that we're hearing from across the state," Mr Pike said.
"Some people are fine. The larger corporate growers, to a degree, are fine. Some are not and certainly some of the smaller growers definitely are not."
So did Tasmania's fruit industry see this coming?
Backpacker tax an issue
"Certainly the backpacker tax and the reputational damage that that debacle did was forecast by us (and) by senior growers," Mr Pike said.
The tax was introduced by the Federal Government at the beginning of last year and taxes workers on working holiday visas 15 per cent on earnings above $37,000.
"When those second year visa-holders left, which was at the end of 2017, would the numbers of first-year visa holders for 2018-2019 be there? At this stage they aren't."
He said actual numbers were hard to track because casual worker movement was fluid.
"We know that, on average, it's about 6000 workers that are needed every year but we've got new plantings coming on line, we've got major expansions underway.
"I dare say, at the end of this season if we do a roundup on it, I would say that the demand would be a lot higher than the supply."
Mr Jennings was the strawberry grower from Cygnet who lost hundreds of tonnes of berries due to the shortage.
"There's just nowhere near enough people to go around at the moment," Mr Jennings said.
"We started picking mid-October. I would say the past eight weeks we would have been roughly about 80 people each day short of what we needed."
Despite advertising this week on the Tasmanian Agriculture Jobs website for extra pickers he said the response was nowhere near what would be needed to get the crop off.
"At this stage, it's possibly too late for us. In November and early December we would have lost about 300 tonnes of fruit just left to rot," he said
He thinks that a number of issues, including the backpacker tax have contributed to the problem.
"They've (the backpackers) lost most of their superannuation now, they're taxed from the first dollar they earn so it's very unattractive for them."
Expanding opportunities for backpackers
Dave Jennings also believed that the growing amount of work available was a further contributing factor.
"The labour force is just spread too thinly," he said.
"Every grower out there knows exactly what the issues are but no-one seems to be addressing them very much."
Mr Jennings said that extending backpacker visas to a third year and expanding the opportunities for backpackers under something similar to the Seasonal Worker Program that attracted workers from the Pacific Islands would help to alleviate the shortage.
Mr Pike believes that more preliminary leg work from job service agencies in researching who wants what and when in terms of labour would help.
He said the establishment of a network of jobs hubs throughout the state would also be valuable in managing the seasonal workforce better.