In our advisory work we are often asked to improve harvesting performances. The underlying reason of course is cost cutting. However, in order to implement change on a farm you need to know two factors - the current situation and the trend. In other words: what are the current harvesting costs?
It's essential to know the costs per picker, but also the costs per unit. These are the costs per kilo of harvested product in the various types of packaging. At this stage we often discover that growers have absolutely no idea what these costs are. In the best case the picking speed is roughly known, but not always up to date. In order to calculate precise costs growers must know the picking performance per individual, but also in which growing room with which flush and which quality grade. The picking performance is often lower in the second flush and also differs according to the various varieties, for example white and chestnut mushrooms.
Investing in a registration system is advisable. There are many good systems on the market, but make sure the one you choose can be linked to your own price calculation programs. Data must be able to be converted to eg Microsoft Excel, so the cost price for that day can be read out for harvest registration. Only when you have this sort of information can you start to define the trend and draw up an action plan.
Henk van Gerwen, AdVisie ‘The mushroom cultivation advisors’