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Seasonal human migration: Map

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An American migratory worker in 1940.
Seasonal human migration is very common in agricultural cycles. It includes migrations such as moving sheep or cattle to higher elevations during summer to escape heat and find more forage. Human labor often moves with fruit harvest, or to other crops that require manual picking.

While the culture of many crops (especially "dry" crops) has become entirely mechanized, others, such as fruits and vegetables still require manual labor, at least for harvest, and some, such as tobacco, still need manual labor for its culture. Much of this work was once provided by family members or boarding students, but these workers are less available now, and farms are larger. Today migratory workers provide much of the hand labor required in agriculture in the US and some other countries. Labor contractors arrange with farmers to provide the necessary help at the seasonal time, often with foreign nationals whose employment opportunities are more limited in their home areas.

A number of migratory contractors, known as "custom harvesters", move with their combine to follow the wheat harvest in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker as the season moves north. Some crop dusters are also migratory, following seasonal patterns of need.

Most commercial beekeepers in the US are migratory, spending winter in warm climates and moving with the spring to follow the bloom, or pollination contracts for almonds, apples, blueberries, and other fruits and vegetables that require bees. Migratory beekeeping also is practiced in Francemarker, Australia, South Africa, Argentinamarker, and to a lesser extent, in other nations.

Seasonal non-agricultural migration

Some researchers suggest that snowbirdsCanadianmarker and U.S.marker citizens who move to warmer climates during the winter — exhibit patterns of seasonal migration. Although these people are not moving for agricultural reasons, they do move with the seasons. For example, many residents of Ontariomarker, Canada move to Floridamarker, USA during the winter. The practice actually dates back to colonial times, when Bostoniansmarker of means would often go (by sea) to Charlestonmarker or Savannahmarker for winter. Later, the wealthy in the growing country maintained several seasonal residences and shifted residence with the seasons to avail themselves of the best time to be at each location, naming the time to "be" there, "the season". In British India, Ceylonmarker and Malaya the cooler hill stations became the place of residence for Europeans during the hot summers, and Simla became the summer capital of the British Raj.

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