While the cherries are ripe and beautiful, there aren't enough laborers to pick them all.
"There are several trees in my orchard," Petersen said. "There's beautiful fruit hanging on them that is just going to go to waste."
The California Farm Bureau's Bryan Little confirms the problem.
"The people who do early harvesting of cherries, asparagus and early season activity are about 30 percent to 40 percent short of (the workers) they would normally need this time of year," Little said.
The shortage has caused some labor contractors to come up with innovative ways to find workers.
"They're using Facebook, newspaper ads, even ads on Mexican television," said Petersen.
There are a number of theories as to why there are so few workers this year. Little cites increased danger from Mexico's drug wars and stricter enforcement at the border.
Both he and Petersen would like to see the federal government come up with some arrangement that would allow legal access for guest workers.
"I don't see how we can't create a system (that would) come up with a win-win situation for both sides," Petersen said.
Little believes the full extent of the problem will not be known until the height of the harvest of a number of crops beginning in late summer.
Written by Jonathan Mumm
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