Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Yarborough Awarded Funds to Improve Integrated Pest Management for Blueberry Farmers

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

David Yarborough, a blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and professor in the School of Food and Agriculture, was awarded funds to improve integrated pest management practices for Maine’s wild blueberry growers.

The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine awarded Yarborough and fellow researchers Francis Drummond and Seanna Annis $116,268 from the Maine Department of Agriculture for the yearlong study.

The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine proposes to develop and implement an integrated pest management (IPM) program on weeds, diseases and insects for Maine’s 510 wild blueberry growers.

The study aims to address important crop management needs to ensure wild blueberry production isn’t threatened by developing IPM programs. If IPM practices are not developed to address the challenges, Maine’s wild blueberry crop and $250 million in annual economic impact are at significant risk, according to the researchers.

The integrated proposal contains three focus areas:

  • To develop effective weed resistance strategies and educate growers on weed resistance management.
  • To provide growers with disease forecasts to reduce crop loss and fungicide use while developing new IPM disease and insect management enhancements.
  • To develop an IPM program for the blueberry tip midge and determine the impact of wild blueberry damage from sap-feeding insects resulting from current fertility and disease management practice.

Signs of the Times

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Continuing or accelerating warming of the atmosphere and ocean. Intense precipitation events. Rising sea levels.

These are signs of climate change, and all of them are affecting Maine people, according to Maine’s Climate Future: 2015 Update, a new report from the University of Maine.

Recent consequences include: a record number of reported Lyme disease cases; a white pine needle disease epidemic; erosion of beaches, farmland and roads; and a Gulf of Maine heat wave in 2012 that resulted in a glut of lobsters on the market and an ensuing price crash.

“This report goes beyond global and national climate change assessments to what is happening in Maine,” says one of the report’s authors, Ivan Fernandez, a professor in the UMaine School of Forest Resources, Climate Change Institute and School of Food and Agriculture.

“We want to encourage cost-effective adaptation by citizens, businesses and communities in Maine using the best available information and tools. Being informed about how climate change affects the state is vital to developing cohesive plans to lessen its negative effects and capitalize on resulting opportunities.”

The new report builds on the report Maine’s Climate Future 2009. In 2008, at the request of then-Gov. John Baldacci, the University of Maine Climate Change Institute began assessing climate-related changes in the state. More than 70 scientists contributed to that report.

The 2015 update, say its authors, highlights researchers’ grasp of past, present and future trends of changing climate in Maine given their understanding and the accumulating evidence in 2015.

It also provides examples of how Mainers, including community planners and business people, are adapting to existing realities and preparing for future expected changes.

Noted in the 24-page report:

  • Rockland’s mapped flood zone has been moved inland 100 feet.
  • The city of Portland assigned $2.7 million to elevate Bayside neighborhood streets two feet so building foundation heights would meet new insurance regulations that anticipate flooding and sea-level rise.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its Plant Hardiness Zone Maps because boundaries have shifted north by half a zone.
  • Maine ski resort operators have signed the Climate Declaration to advocate for national action on climate change.

It’s important for stakeholders to continue proactive and preemptive preparation, say the report’s authors.

“Mitigation is also important, even as we engage in adaptation, since little has been done to reduce the rise in greenhouse gas emissions,” Fernandez says.

While the Northeast is experiencing a bitterly cold and snowy winter of 2015, the average temperature on the planet in 2014 was the warmest in 135 years of record keeping. Last year was the 38th consecutive year that Earth’s yearly temperature was above average, and nine of the 10 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000.

While it may not feel like it now, the average annual temperature in Maine has warmed about 3 degrees since 1895.

Sean Birkel, Maine State Climatologist and a research assistant professor with the Climate Change Institute, analyzed Maine’s future climate using models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — which account for both natural and human impacts.

His findings indicate by 2050 the annual temperature in Maine will rise another 3–5 degrees F.

Also, Maine’s warm season — when the average daily temperature is above freezing — has increased by two weeks since 1914 and is expected to lengthen another two more weeks by 2050.

The longer warm season, which now extends from mid-March to late November, has translated into longer growing seasons for farmers. In the future, it could mean the prime time to tap maple trees for sap will be in early February.

Warming temperatures also have provided a more suitable environment for ticks and their hosts, resulting in the northward spread of Lyme disease in Maine.

Reported cases of the bacterial infection hit an all-time high in the state in 2013, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control

The global climate system changes that have resulted in the temperature rise also have impacted the seasonal distribution and amount of precipitation in Maine.

Since 1895, total annual precipitation in the state has increased by approximately six inches, or 13 percent; most increases occur in the summer and fall. Precipitation is expected to increase another 5–10 percent across Maine by 2050.

Precipitation also has become more frequent and intense. In the last century, nine of 11 meteorological stations in Maine have registered the highest frequency of extreme events — defined for this analysis as two or more inches of rain or snow falling in a 24-hour period — in the last decade.

In August 2014, a record-breaking 6.44 inches of rain flooded Portland streets. The downpour caused $200,000 in damage to infrastructure in Brunswick, including culverts and roads. In May 2012, six inches of rain fell in Auburn in 24 hours. Due to erosion and nutrients flushing into Lake Auburn, an excessive algae bloom developed, oxygen levels plummeted and many trout died.

The report’s authors say the warming ocean surface water, which puts more water vapor into the atmosphere, is one factor that fuels extreme precipitation events, including this winter’s record snowstorms.

The report also points to adaptation efforts by agencies and communities in Maine that highlight the importance of communication and coordination regarding the climate change challenge.

In 2013, Gov. Paul LePage established the Environmental and Energy Resources Working Group to develop a coordinated strategy to address climate change issues.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s report from that working group recommended greater coordination among state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, Native American tribes, municipalities, researchers and UMaine to improve the state’s “ability to respond and adapt to changing physical conditions in the environment due to climatic influence.”

In spring 2014, the UMaine School of Policy and International Affairs, the Maine National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard co-hosted a conference that addressed political, military, economic and environmental challenges and opportunities related to diminished sea ice in the Arctic.

And last fall, at a University of Maine Climate Change Institute conference, researchers unveiled online tools, including the Climate Reanalyzer, to help community planners develop local solutions for specific consequences they are likely to experience.

“The University of Maine is uniquely capable of exploring the challenges associated with climate change in our state through research, education and community engagement and the complex themes encompassed in climate change-related studies are closely aligned with the recently developed signature and emerging issues related to climate change and marine science,” says Paul Anderson, director of the Maine Sea Grant program, which helped produce the report.

“Maine, the nation and the world stand at a crossroad imposed by our changing climate, but we have an amazing opportunity to reduce uncertainty about the future of climate and its impact and in so doing understand, address and deal with the challenge through rational and productive action,” says Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute and another author of report.

Other authors of the report are: Catherine Schmitt, communications director, Maine Sea Grant College Program at the University of Maine; Esperanza Stancioff, educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Sea Grant; Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Joseph Kelley, professor, UMaine School of Earth and Climate Sciences, Climate Change Institute; Jeffrey Runge, research scientist, UMaine School of Marine Sciences, Gulf of Maine Research Institute; and George Jacobson, UMaine Professor Emeritus, Climate Change Institute, UMaine School of Biology and Ecology.

Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777

Tree Fruit Pre-Season Meeting

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015  – New Date
8:00/9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Lewiston Auburn College
51 Westminster Street, Lewiston, Maine

apples on treeEveryone is welcome to attend. This meeting will provide pest and horticultural management updates for commercial, hobbyist, large and small-scale orchardists. Four pesticide applicator recertification credits will be awarded for attending 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Registration cost is $15 per person at the door, which includes lunch and breaks, and helps cover costs to host the meeting. For questions, contact Glen Koehler at or 207.581.3882.


Optional pre-meeting presentation for folks who are interested.

8:00 a.m.: Interpreting Weather Forecasts, Glen Koehler, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

8:30 a.m.: Registration, coffee and donuts provided by Randy Drown, Crop Protection Services

Regular meeting

9:00 a.m.: Adjuvants 101, Dwane Miller, Penn State University Cooperative Extension

10:00 a.m.: A Comparison of Production Costs of Plum, Apple, and Peach, and Notes on Tree Fruit Production in Lebanon, Dr. Renae Moran, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

10:45 a.m.: Break, provided by Milton Sinclair, Paris Farmers Union

11:00 a.m.: Recent Progress and Future Prospects for Improved Chemical Thinning of Apples, Dr. Duane Greene, University of Massachusetts

12:00 p.m.: Lunch, pizza buffet with salad, drinks, and dessert

12:45 a.m.: Maine State Pomological Society Update, Andy Ricker, Ricker Hill Farm

1:15 p.m.: Methods to Prevent Pesticide Drift, Glen Koehler

1:45 p.m.: New or Revised Suggestions for Using Plant Growth Regulators in the Orchard, Dr. Duane Greene, University of Massachusetts

2:45 p.m.: Break, Provided by Paul Peters, Northeast Agricultural Sales

3:00 p.m.: Insect and Disease Pest Management Update, Glen Koehler

3:30 p.m.: Board of Pesticides Control Update, Henry Jennings, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

4:00 p.m.: Adjourn


From the Turnpike (I-95): COMING FROM THE SOUTH, take exit 80. Take a left at the light at the end of the exit, and then take your first right onto Lisbon Street (Rt. 196) headed for Lisbon Falls. Turn left at the second stoplight (Maine Public Broadcasting will be on your left) onto Westminster Street. USM’s Lewiston-Auburn Campus is towards the top of the hill on the right, after Ryder Truck.

From the Turnpike (I-95): COMING FROM THE NORTH, take exit 80. Bear right coming off the exit to get onto Lisbon Street (Rt. 196) headed for Lisbon Falls. About 100 meters after you get onto Lisbon Street, you will cross Pleasant Street. After another 100 meters, the next intersection is Westminster Street (Maine Public Broadcasting will be on your left). Turn left onto Westminster Street for about 0.3 mile. USM’s Lewiston-Auburn Campus is towards the top of the hill on the right, after Ryder Truck.

Maine Vegetable and Fruit School – March 10 and 11, 2015

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Highmoor FarmMaine Vegetable and Fruit School 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015
8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Keeley’s Banquet Center, Portland, Maine


Wednesday, March 11, 2015
8:30 AM to 4:00 PM
Bangor Motor Inn Conference Center, Bangor, Maine

Registration Fee: $40.00, includes lunch

PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please preregister by February 27, 2015.

This day-long school is offered for Maine farmers on two dates at two locations: March 10 in Portland or March 11 in Bangor. The agenda and registration form are posted on UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Highmoor Farm website.

Hoskins Dishes on Dirt in Sun Journal

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Bruce Hoskins, assistant scientist of Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Maine, was quoted in a Sun Journal column that listed 10 things to get excited about this year. Hoskins remarked on the U.N. General Assembly naming 2015 the International Year of Soils. “People just kind of take it for granted. It really is the foundation for all plant production, food production,” said Hoskins, whose lab annually tests 15,000 soil samples then suggests how to improve crop production.

Dill Speaks with Sun Journal About Common Winter Pests

Monday, January 5th, 2015

James Dill, a pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Sun Journal for an article about insects that are common in Maine during the winter. Dill spoke about several pests and how to cope with them, including snow fleas, western conifer seed bugs, northern house mosquitoes, winter moths and spiders and Asian lady beetles. “It used to be when I first started, people would say, ‘Oh, boy, it must be boring during the winter being an entomologist,’” Dill said. “With the things that have come in, and looking at pests and you name it, there’s truly not a slow time of year anymore.”

Dill Quoted in Press Herald Article on Lyme Disease, New Lab

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

James Dill, a pest management specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Portland Press Herald for an article about the state’s increase in Lyme disease cases and the new research lab at UMaine that will help with treatment. In November, voters approved an $8 million bond to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to build a new animal and plant disease and insect control laboratory. Testing at the lab will allow researchers to more quickly get information on infected ticks to doctors, which would increase the effectiveness of treatments, Dill told the Press Herald. He said the waiting period for Lyme test results should decrease from several weeks to about 48 hours.

PPH Reports on Plight of Honeybees

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

The Portland Press Herald covered a conference sponsored by University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry that focused on the plight of honeybees. Honeybees experience colony collapse disorder and presenters said perils for the bees include pesticides, malnutrition, being attacked by mites and being overworked.

Pesticide Training Offered for Growers

Monday, December 1st, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering growers a training session for the Bureau of Pesticide Control (BPC) private pesticide applicator core exam. Training will be 3–6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, at the UMaine Extension Oxford County office, 9 Olson Road, South Paris. Participants also have the option of taking the exam 6–7:30 p.m.

Effective April 1, 2015, a new Maine state law requires a pesticide license for fruit, vegetable and grain growers who use only general-use (over-the-counter) pesticides, and annually sell more than $1,000 of plants or plant products intended for human consumption. Each operation must have at least one licensed owner or employee on the farm. To qualify for the license, the candidate must pass the private pesticide applicator core exam.

Cost for training is $10. For more information, to register for the training or request a disability accommodation, contact Barbara Murphy, 207.743.6329,

Highbush Blueberry School – January 15, 2015

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Blueberries on bushHighbush Blueberry School 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015
10:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Registration Fee: $15.00

PREREGISTRATION IS STRONGLY ENCOURAGED. Please preregister by January 9, 2015.

The Highbush Blueberry School will be offered for those who are interested in growing highbush blueberries as a commercial enterprise. The agenda and registration information are posted on UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Highmoor Farm website.