The push is on to find 500 workers to pick a bumper citrus crop in the Gayndah region, with a campaign launched in an attempt to combat labour shortage woes.
Gayndah Fruitgrowers is behind the Pick the Burnett campaign, aimed at getting information about the harvest jobs to willing workers.
The citrus picking season in the region is due to kick off in coming weeks and run until October and Gayndah would normally be bustling with backpackers ready to do the work.
But with the backpacker work force drying up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is desperate to find alternative employees to get the fruit off the trees.
Gayndah Fruitgrowers secretary Judy Shepherd said they wanted to attract travelers still in the state to come to the region for work, as well as Australian workers.
"We've normally got around 200,000 people roaming around the country, all of them with the necessary visa... it's currently about 40,000 people with about 1000 leaving every month," she said.
"Last year was really strange... we still had a lot of people at the start of the season and it was a very, very small crop. The mood was quite panicky, people didn't know what they should be doing.
"This year we've got a massive crop and the region is quiet.
"We're used to having a pile of workers because this is a long running season that's going to give them most or all of their visa requirement in one go."
Ms Shepherd said finding the workers was vital for the future of the local citrus industry.
"If we don't get the fruit off the trees, we won't get a crop next year," she said.
Ms Shepherd said there were challenges in finding the right workers for harvest positions.
"I started my own little private campaign earlier to find workers [ for family business Shepherd Citrus] and I had a really good response but you're also looking for people with the experience and confidence to do the job," she said.
"There also seems to be this expectation that we'll sort out your accommodation for you and though I would love to help, we're working hard ourselves, we don't have the time to do that."
Ms Shepherd said while picking had a reputation for being hard work, it had its advantages.
"It's about technique and skill," she said.
"One of our longest running pickers over the years is an absolutely gun picker... he can fill two or three bins in a morning and go home at 1pm or keep picking and earn good money.
"Gun pickers would not pick on any other rate than a piece rate because they want to manage their own time."
Ms Shepherd said hopefully more people would discover the benefits of picking work this year.
"It's one of those rites of passage for a young country person to go working whether it's mustering at St George or to go picking and they may do it for three years and go up and down the country," she said.
"It's a great thing to do, it's a real confidence builder and to know that you can do something physical to earn a living is really good."
Agriculture minister Mark Furner said he congratulated the organisers of the Pick the Burnett campaign.
"The more voices of encouragement for Queensland workers to take up these jobs the better," he said.
The campaign follows in the footsteps of other ventures to address the harvest labour shortage including worker incentives and the federal government Pacific Labour Scheme.
Mr Furner said processing times to bring in Pacific workers under the Pacific Labour Scheme could vary significantly because of issues in their home countries.
"Queensland has already helped almost 1000 workers to come in, with hundreds more on the way," he said.
"We have $1500 in incentives available to encourage Queensland workers to take up picking jobs.
"We have also taken a proposal to the federal government for a regional quarantine hub at Wellcamp Airport which would be the perfect gateway for these workers."
"The Prime Minister needs to tell us if he is interested or not in this proposal."