Lack of workers for strawberry harvest may see prices rise for some, as fruit left to rot

The fate of a Kiwi summer favourite is up in the air, as the country's biggest strawberry operator remains in a bureaucratic battle with the Government to find enough workers to harvest the fruit.

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One of the nation’s biggest growers fears she’ll have to close due to overseas pickers allocation. Source: 1 NEWS

Recently 1 NEWS reported that a resolution had been reached, but the prospect of price hikes and fruit being left to rot in the ground still hangs over the summer season due to the worker issue.

"We've rung every employee we can find in the country. With our own numbers, we've got to about 80 and we need 150," Francie Perry, managing director of Auckland's Perrys Berrys says.

When 1 NEWS first talked to Ms Perry 11 days ago it seemed she had a solution to the picker shortage.

Immigration NZ told her - like any approved grower - just apply and the application process would be quick.

However, just five days after our story Ms Perry got an email from Immigration saying they generally ask for applications six months in advance.

The picking season begins in under two weeks.

"It's completely unworkable, there's no chance to get workers by Christmas," Ms Perry says.

Immigration New Zealand's General Manager for Settlement Steve McGill says they "have to run due diligence against all applications".

Last year Ms Perry didn't have enough pickers and a third of her crop rotted in the ground, doubling prices Christmas week at the supermarket.

The Government's promising a review of the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.