HARCOURT'S orchards have begun harvesting crops as worker shortages stretch the industry.
Not all orchards are being affected equally.
Henry of Harcourt workers began picking fruit on Wednesday morning and is small enough that it does not heavily rely on overseas workers locked out by coronavirus border closures.
Some crops have been a miss this year, cider manager Michael Henry said.
"The Pink Ladies have been a bust this year, at least for me," he said.
"But we have 47 varieties overall. The pears will be good as long as I can keep the birds off of them for the next two weeks."
Worker shortages have been a concern across the industry, Fruit Growers Victoria's Mick Crisera said.
"Yeah, it's fluctuated a bit but we are running short of where we need to be," he said.
"It's not necessarily about the size of a farm. In the Goulburn Valley, where we are, it's the smaller operators who can struggle."
Workers might avoid smaller farms in more isolated areas out of concerns employment may not be consistent, nearby Mr Crisera said.
"It can also depend on how people have structured their companies," he said.
Geoff Thompson Orchards' Harcourt harvest will start next week after workers finish at properties elsewhere in southern Australia.
It is among the companies that have been able to find workers, general orchard manager manager Brent Reeve said.
"We've had some Pacific Islanders who have been in the country and are moving from one of our orchards to the next," he said.
Workers have also been able to take advantage of a cooler summer and work longer days at a time of year when heatwaves can force them inside.
"The shortages have been really bad for a lot of people, though. A lot of growers are are seeing their fruit fall on the ground and are trying to salvage things, Mr Reeves said.
"We've been helping neighbours of our land in Shepparton to make up the numbers."
Mr Crisera said people interested in trying out the work should visit Fruit Growers Victoria's "Pick Shep" page to apply, as the group would help funnel them through to the orchards most in need.
It would also help people get sense of whether the work is for them.