Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Cherry season means cherry inspector jobs at WSDA

Amber Betts
WSDA Communications

Washington state cherries are a worldwide favorite. The beautiful color, taste, size, and quality are widely known. With cherry season nearing, WSDA is looking for inspectors to join the force for the duration of cherry season (six to eight weeks), but with only a week before training begins, we are not seeing as many applicants as in year’s past.

“We usually get quite a bit more applicants, but this year we just aren’t seeing the numbers we usually do,” commodity inspection manager Robert Newell said.

WSDA typically hires more than 100 inspectors to visit the local warehouses in Brewster, Chelan, Wapato, Wenatchee, Pasco, and Yakima. But this year, several positions are still available with just a week to go before the start of the cherry inspection period.

What a cherry inspector does

Inspectors start training June 1, and over the course of cherry season they visit cherry packing warehouses and inspect the product for quality, color, and other facets.

If you’re a returning inspector, training is a one-day refresher course. For first-timers, this is a three-day endeavor where we will teach you grade and sampling procedures; how to identify defects, what the grade requirements are, how to sample the products, what the cherry crushing process looks like, and how to best communicate with the facility where you are inspecting.

Inspectors also learn  about our inspection documents, how to enter sample information into the computer program, create accurate documents, and issue shipping permits.

In an effort to fill all the needed spots, WSDA has increased wages from $15 an hour to $17.24 an hour.

Once hired, inspectors visit warehouses, sometimes perform a sanitation walkthrough looking for debris such as leaves that may need to be cleared out. But the primary work is to take samples of packed cherry boxes and look for color, grade, size, and condition. Inspectors perform a crush test, checking to see if the cherries are home to fruit flies. Once all the checks are balanced, inspectors record the information and issue shipping permits and other documents that allows our cherry packing facilities to ship the product all over the country and abroad.

Inspectors are expected to produce accurate and quality work, paying attention to detail as they inspect and certify fresh cherries at shipping points for domestic and foreign markets. Making sure the grade and condition of the cherries meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and WSDA.

“By working together with our industry partners, we continue to keep Washington state cherries a sought after product worldwide,” Newell said.

How to qualify

To qualify for this position, you must be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license and a GED or high school diploma. The best candidates also have the ability to work cooperatively in a fast-paced team environment and have reliable transportation. If you also have the ability to use good judgment, tact, and withstand stressful situations, this is the job for you.

Some years, there’s also opportunity for frequent overtime pay. Visit www.governmentjobs.com or agr.wa.gov to apply.