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Maine Blueberry Harvest Down As Industry Looks For Buyers

AP_17314504003035.jpg
Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press/file
In this Friday, July 27, 2012, file photo, workers harvest wild blueberries at the Ridgeberry Farm in Appleton, Maine.

A trade group says Maine’s wild blueberry crop fell sharply this summer to below 100 million pounds for the first time in four years.

Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine Executive Director Nancy McBrady says preliminary industry figures show the crop coming in at about 65 million pounds. Among factors for the decline were bad growing conditions.

“We had a wet, cool spring, not a heck of a good condition for pollination. And we had a really dry August, which caused the plants to be less productive,” she says.

McBrady says larger crops over the past 3 or 4 years have led to a large inventory of berries. The price of wild blueberries has dropped a lot over the past couple of years, leading some growers to cut back their operations.

McBrady says those in the industry hope that, with this year’s smaller harvest, prices will start to creep up.

n enough for Maine to remain far and away the wild blueberry capital of the country, but a sharp drop from recent years.
 
McBrady says the crop is down because of bad growing conditions and lack of farming effort. Surplus supplies of blueberries from recent years have motivated some growers to scale back. Prices are also down.
 
The industry is looking for new buyers to help improve prices. Oakhurst Dairy plans to issue wild blueberry milk in the spring.

Ed is a Maine native who spent his early childhood in Livermore Falls before moving to Farmington. He graduated from Mount Blue High School in 1970 before going to the University of Maine at Orono where he received his BA in speech in 1974 with a broadcast concentration. It was during that time that he first became involved with public broadcasting. He served as an intern for what was then called MPBN TV and also did volunteer work for MPBN Radio.