Fear of losing blueberry growers as prices drop, crop soars


City, Maine — Members of Maine’s husbandry industry and state government cold sweat the possibility of losing blueberry growers due to a indentation in prices that has made maturation the beloved crop a less dependable way to make a living.

Wild blueberries are a Maine custom on par with lobsters and lighthouses, but expense to farmers have plunged from nigh a dollar a pound (0.45 kg) in 2011 to around 25 to 30 cents per pounding (0.45 kilogram) last gathering. The number of farmers and acreages is retention steady, but other measures appear a decline in effort on farms, country officials said.

For example, bees are imported to Maine to inseminate blueberry fields, and the number of beehives future into the state declined by almost 20

per cent
from 2015 to 2016, aforementioned David Yarborough, a horticulture academician at the University of Maine.

Industry colleague said they are likely sounding at another year of low prices, and any farmers are using less of their arable in anticipation of a tough summer.

"These are intriguing times for the blueberry industry," aforementioned Homer Woodward,

of Jasper Wyman & Son, one of the Maine shrub industry’s major players. "Each is trying to rethink their holding management plan."

Gov. Saul LePage, a Republican, has submitted a society budget proposal that would use $2.5 meg in state money to market farming products such as blueberries. He and others sustain said the state needs to get new buyers for the blueberries to try to spur involve and buoy prices. State officials say luxuriant blueberry growers in Washington and Hancock counties, the affection of blueberry country, are seeing yearbook losses of $70 million.

One of the explanation for the drop in prices and profits is a multi-yr boom in harvest that has led to excess. The U.S. Department of Agriculture stepped in close year and allotted up to $13 zillion to buy surplus Maine blueberries and service stabilize prices. But excess avail remains.

Another problem is that Canada again produces wild blueberries and it’s exacting for Maine companies to compete with the society economically because of the weak River dollar.

Wild blueberries are not as customary in stores as the fatter cultivated blueberries, but aficionado of the fruit tout its unique

profile and higher level of antioxidants. Roughly 99

per cent
of the crop is icy, and it is widely used as a food constituent, such as in smoothies.

Canada and Maine, the U.S.’s solitary significant wild blueberry nation, have both churned out alpine levels of the crop in recent age, Yarborough said.

The two jurisdictions produced 400 1000000 pounds (181.44 million kilograms) of escaped blueberries last year, Yarborough aforementioned. The norm is around 250 zillion pounds (113.4 million kilograms), he aforementioned. Regardless of the size of this summertime’s crop, prices are unlikely to heave back to higher levels swiftly, Yarborough added.

"This especial situation isn’t going to resolve itself in a gathering or two, it might take longer," he aforementioned.

The drop in prices to farmers hasn’t trickled fine-tune to retail customers yet, except in the arrangement of occasional sales and coupons, Chemist said. He said growers and processors are hoping the society’s push to more aggressively marketplace the blueberries will attract new involvement outside the state.

State Farming Commissioner Walt Whitcomb aforementioned the state hopes to market blueberries augmented aggressively overseas and increase labour to get Maine blueberries into another U.S. schools. The school push has yielded any results, as more Maine blueberries were oversubscribed to schools in April than in all of 2016.

City McBrady, executive director of the Agrarian Blueberry Commission of Maine, aforementioned new consumers are what the Maine shrub industry needs the most.

"Thither is a real possibility that any growers might exit the dodge entirely," she said, "which is a genuine tragedy because this is a 150-yr-old industry in the state."