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November 13, 2017

Maine’s wild blueberry harvest drops precipitously

Photo / Ted Axelrod, axelrodphotography.com
Photo / Ted Axelrod, axelrodphotography.com
Maine's wild blueberry harvests of up to 100 million pounds a year represent a $250 million industry, according to the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine. This year's crop, however, came in at about 65 million pounds.

Preliminary industry figures show Maine's wild blueberry crop coming in at about 65 million pounds for 2017, well below last year's almost 102 million pounds.

An Associated Press report published by the Bangor Daily News said the crop is down because of factors including bad growing conditions, such as a lack of rain, and lack of farming effort, according to Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine Executive Director Nancy McBrady. Also, surplus supplies from recent years and a resultant drop in prices to farmers motivated some growers to scale back.

Prices in 2016 hit a 10-year low of 27 cents per pound to farmers. Maine's industry has been looking for new buyers to help drive up demand and improve prices.

In September, Marie and Dell Emerson, who manage Wild Blueberry Land in Columbia Falls and sell wild blueberries out of a blueberry-shaped retail shop on Route 1, were developing a marketing push to differentiate Maine's wild blueberries from cultivated berries grown elsewhere, the Ellsworth American reported.

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