Apple Growers Worry As Mott's Labor Dispute Continues

September 27, 2013 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 6:25 PM EDT

By WKBW Internet

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September 27, 2013 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 6:25 PM EDT

LAKE ONTARIO WINE REGION, NY (WKBW) -- Many apples are almost ripe and ready to be harvested. The warmer than average temperatures and moisture this summer have jump started the harvest season for apples by a couple weeks, now set to start next week. But some orchard owners are hoping the latest dispute at a big apple plant won't affect them.

It's been three months since a labor dispute began at the Mott's apple processing plant in Williamson, New York and now dozens of local apple growers have to cross the picket line there to get supplies, such as apple crates, to harvest their crop. "We don't want to take sides... a lot of the boxes we use are there... so you know within the next week or so we're gonna have to cross that line and start picking up those boxes to begin picking apples," John Teeple, who grows apples for processing, said. "When our apples get ripe we have to pick them or they're gonna rot and they're worth nothing."

Growers say they hope this dispute doesn't affect their sales to the company. "The biggest processor on the east coast is Mott's, so it's very important to us, very important to Upstate New York," Teeple said.

A manager at Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which owns Mott's plant, says no impact is expected on the purchasing amount of the apple harvest as the demand for Mott's products continues to grow, up 8 percent year to date.

Many in the apple industry are holding the company to it. "They're saying they're going to be operating that plant at capacity so we're just going to take them at their word," Peter Gregg, the New York Apple Association spokesperson, said.