UMaine Wild Blueberry Conference Series

Wild BlueberriesDate: Wednesdays, January 27, 2021–March 24, 2021
Time: 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Date: Fridays, January 29, 2021–March 19, 2021
Time: 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

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Wednesdays, January 27 – March 24, 2021 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Jan 27: Farmer Panel: Irrigation
We will hear perspectives on irrigation from large and small wild blueberry producers. The two goals of this session are to A) provide information about currently used and not used irrigation systems in the Maine wild blueberry industry, and B) discuss the practicalities of putting irrigation in and using it.

Feb 3: Insect Pests; Speaker: Dr. Phil Fanning (University of Maine) (1 PA Credit)
This talk will give an update on the control of fruit flies, with primary attention given to Spotted-wing Drosophila including updates on thresholds, work on the species biology, and management in wild blueberry.

Feb 10: Beginning Wild Blueberry Production; Speaker: Dr. Lily Calderwood (University of Maine)
As wild blueberry land enters the hands of the next generation, learning how to manage this unique crop is critical! This session will cover what to look for when purchasing a wild blueberry field, how to “bring it back,” how to produce a commercial crop, and how to manage a field for home-owner use.

Feb 17: Acidic Podzol Soils; Speaker: Dr. Ivan Fernandez (University of Maine)
Professor, Dr. Ivan Fernandez from the School of Forest Resources will join us to talk about the characteristics of soil forming processes and the implications for management for acidic soils of Maine. He will give a background on a few of the basics of soil acidity in acid soils and what it means for nutrient availability. He will also describe a local (but also internationally recognized) whole watershed acidification experiment conducted in Hancock County.

Feb 24: Organic Pest and Crop Management; Speaker: Dr. Lily Calderwood (University of Maine) (1 PA Credit)
This session will cover what we’ve learned so far about growing organic wild blueberries. Specific topics that will be covered include soil type, irrigation, fertility, weed, insect, disease management. This session will conclude with a discussion of the costs associated with organic management of wild blueberries.

Mar 3: Fresh Pack Line Improvements; Speaker: John Belding (University of Maine)
John Belding is the Director of the University of Maine Advanced Manufacturing Center that works with Maine businesses to improve equipment and processes. John visited a few wild blueberry fresh pack lines this summer. He will share his observations and some solutions to common problems.

Mar 10: Plant Stress and Climate Change; Speaker: Yonjiang Zhang (University of Maine)
In this session we will hear a research update on the impact of increased temperature on wild blueberry in the field and the ability of drones to predict plant stress. The positive and negative effects of warming, and potential mitigation techniques will be discussed.

Mar 17: Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine Update; Speakers
Do you ever wonder what exactly the Wild Blueberry Commission does, or how you can become involved in it? Executive Director Eric Venturini will provide an overview of the Commission’s work last year to support Maine’s wild blueberry farmers and businesses, and present our plans to increase the prosperity of the Maine wild blueberry industry in 2021. The Commission is dedicated to our mission of “conserving and promoting the prosperity and welfare of this State and of the wild blueberry industry of this State by fostering research and extension programs, by supporting the development of promotional opportunities and other activities related to the wild blueberry industry.”

Mar 24: Crop Insurance and Food Safety Updates; Speakers Chris Howard (UMaine): Crop Insurance;  and Hannah Mullally (NRCS): Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management (IPPM) Program Overview
Chris Howard from the UMaine Extension Crop Insurance Program will give an update on crop insurance and food safety updates. If any other organization would like to give an update to this group on this date please reach out to Lily Calderwood at

Fridays, January 29 – March 19, 2021 12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Jan 29: Leveraging Technology for Wild Blueberry Sales; Speakers: Eric Venturini (Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine), Amy McCann (Local Food Marketplace), Joe Blunda (Forager)
Forager and Local Food Marketplace will present a detailed demonstration of their platforms that are helping farms and producers to increase their sales, visibility and order fulfillment across sales channels. Opportunities to expand wholesale relationships and sales using Forager will be discussed.

Feb 5: Weed Control Practices in New Jersey; Speaker: Dr. Tierry Besancon (Rutgers University) (1 PA Credit)
In this session, we will learn about management strategies and tools available for controlling weeds in New Jersey highbush blueberry production. Herbicide selection with regard to weed biology and herbicide resistance will be discussed.

Feb 12: Specialty Food Industry and Market Trends; Speaker: Dr. Louis Bassano (University of Maine)
Specialty foods are increasingly popular with consumers.  Workshop participants will learn about the specialty food industry, its key markets and best selling products.  In addition, workshop participants will learn about the core consumers of specialty foods and the 2021 industry trends.  If you are interested in starting a value-added business we strongly recommend that you also attend the March 12, “Recipe to Market” session.

Feb 19: Disease IPM; Speaker: Dr. Seanna Annis (University of Maine) (1 PA Credit)
This session will be a disease research update including information about how to manage mummy berry, botrytis, and leaf spot diseases.

Feb 26: Next Steps in Building a Wild Blue Wine Industry; Speakers: Bluet founders, Eric Martin and Michael Terrien
In this session, Bluet founders Eric Martin and Michael Terrien will lead the group through defining potential, mapping the ecosystem, and announcing a new working/trade group to bridge the gap between vision and reality for wild blueberry wine production in Maine.

Mar 5: Wild Blueberry Pollination; Speaker: Dr. Phil Fanning (University of Maine) (1 PA Credit)
This talk will give an update on how to assess and conserve pollinators in the wild blueberry system.

Rescheduled to April 2: Recipe to Market: Ca$hing in on Business Opportunities in Maine; Speakers: Dr. Beth Calder and Dr. Jim McConnon (University of Maine)
Are you interested in starting a home-based food business processing some of your berries into a new food product with enhanced value such as jam, fruit snacks or syrup?  This session will introduce participants to important topics that an aspiring entrepreneur needs to consider before starting a specialty food business. Topics include: business basics, an overview of the product development process, licensing and regulations and food safety concerns. We strongly recommend that you also attend the February 12,  “Specialty Food Industry and Market Trends” session.

Mar 19: Fertility and Water Management in Northern Highbush; Speaker: Dr. David Bryla (USDA ARS: Corvallis, Oregon)
This session will cover basic and advanced fertility for both conventionally and organically managed Northern highbush blueberry. Dr. Bryla is a Research Horticulturalist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service and you can read more about his expertise.

If you are a person with a disability and need an accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Mary Michaud at or 207.581.3175 to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least 10 days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be considered.