blueberries

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One of Maine's truly iconic crops is the wild blueberry. It's been something of a wild ride for the berries over the last decade, with some bumper crops, some not so bumper crops, tariffs, competition and, of course, always the weather.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP File

The Maine Center for Disease Control is investigating a second outbreak of COVID-19 within Maine's wild blueberry industry.

BRUNSWICK, Maine - Maine's independent senator urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support his state's blueberry and potato industries amid difficulty in the market.

Maine Sen. Angus King says the state’s blueberry industry isn’t getting the assistance it deserves. He took to the Senate floor Wednesday to protest President Donald Trump’s trade war.

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State Agriculture officials say they are disappointed with a U.S. Department of Agriculture decision to exclude Maine wild blueberries from a federal program designed to help growers negatively affected by retaliatory tariffs.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's wild blueberry industry could be looking at another difficult summer, as the crop is projected to remain much smaller than just a few years ago.

Trade Retaliation Program Unlikely To Help Maine's Blueberry Growers

Aug 8, 2019
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - A federal program designed to help farmers suffering due to trade disruption is unlikely to assist Maine's wild blueberry growers.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's Congressional delegation is getting involved in a push to extend federal aid to members of the state's wild blueberry industry.

Robert F Bukaty / AP File

Maine agriculture officials are asking the federal government to help out wild blueberry growers as they deal with the effects of rising trade disputes with foreign countries.

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Blueberries play a huge role in Maine’s identity. We’ll learn about wild and highbush blueberries, how farmers grow and market their crops, any new uses for this iconic Maine product, and what blueberries mean for Maine’s culture and economy.

This is part of Maine Calling’s yearlong focus on topics that reflect what is iconic in Maine.

A legislative panel is considering a measure that would expand the number of growers on a commission that promotes the state’s wild blueberry industry.

Despite Popularity Of 'Superfoods' Maine's Wild Blueberry Industry In Decline

Sep 4, 2018
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

DEBLOIS, Maine - The Maine wild blueberry industry is locked in a downward skid in an era when "superfoods'' dominate the conversation about how to eat.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

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.

Patty Treworgy inspects some of her high bush blueberries at Treworgy Family Orchards
A. J. Higgins/Maine Public

Maine wild blueberry growers are trying to salvage what they can from this year’s harvest, which experts predict will likely be smaller in just about every way: Smaller berries, smaller total crop harvest and smaller prices than a few years ago. Some wild blueberry growers in Washington County actually decided it was more cost effective not to harvest their blueberries and have mowed their fields in hopes of better conditions next year.

At Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant, co-owner Patty Treworgy examines one of her high bush blueberry plants.

Lee Coursey / via Wikimedia Commons

Maine wild blueberries once again decreased in value in 2016. New numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have the price at a 10-year low - 27 cents a pound.

But the harvest is only about a month away, and Maine Blueberry Commission Executive Director Nancy McBrady says growers have taken steps this year to reduce yields, and, hopefully, increase prices.

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