Cash prizes of up to $100,000 are being offered in a novel move to ensure Queensland strawberry growers have enough workers to pick this year's winter crop.
COVID-19 travel restrictions and high quarantine costs have caused serious seasonal labour shortages for Australia's horticultural industries.
With the pool of working holiday makers which normally pick around 80 per cent of Queensland strawberry crop now down to a puddle, the state's growers association decided to act.
In what the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association (QSGA) is describing as an industry first, people who work in the state's strawberry fields in the coming harvest will get the chance to win 10 individual prizes of up to $100,000 each.
People who work on participating farms during the peak harvesting time from June to October across Queensland's five growing regions will earn entry points into the competition based on how many weeks they pick.
At season's end a computer will randomly pick the names of 10 pickers who will then get the chance to play for up to $100,000 in cash.
QSGA marketing manager Jane Richter said the finals would be held at the Sandstone Point Hotel near Bribie Island on October 21.
Each finalist will get the chance to select one envelope from 100 placed in a strawberry patch which will be created at the hotel.
One of the envelopes for each of the 10 games will contain the $100,000 and the rest $1000.
Queensland produces about 42pc of Australia's annual strawberry crop which had a farmgate value of $435 million in 2020.
Ms Richter said as part of the program, the QSGA was working with tourist operators to ensure life wasn't all hard work for the pickers.
And she said the association would also ensure all workers understood their rights under Australian law with educational material printed in a number of different languages.
The horticulture industry has been dogged for years by reports and stories about poor worker conditions and underpayment.
Strawberries have to be picked every two to three days across a long period of time
"Without pickers and packers, a farmer can lose entire blocks to disease issues very quickly," Ms Richter said.
QSGA president Adrian Schultz said grower members were excited about what the incentive program would bring.
He said the industry would need about 7000 workers to pick Queensland's strawberries over winter.