Wild Blueberry Newsletter, January 2021

Wild Blueberry Newsletter header graphic, text and a photo of blueberries and leaves

January 2021

Upcoming Events in Order of Occurrence

Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine Meeting

Date: Thursday, January 14, 2021
Time: 9:00 am – 12:00

Join the meeting by computer:
Password: 885643

Join the meeting by phone: 1.301.715.8592
Meeting ID: 880 5715 8360
Password: 885643

Virtual Agricultural Trade Show Wild Blueberry Sessions

Wild Blueberry Insects and Weeds – PAT – 2021 ATS
Date: Thursday, January 21, 2021
Time: 8:00 am – 9:00 am

Wild Blueberry Diseases and Pollinators – PAT – 2021 ATS
Date: Thursday, January 21, 2021
Time: 9:30 am – 10:30 am

The Ag Trade Show will run from January 19-23, 2021. There are many virtual sessions and exhibitor “tables” available this year online. It will be different but please make an effort to attend! Find out more.

UMaine Wild Blueberry Conference Series

This winter’s conference will be offered online via zoom January 27 – March 26. One-two hour sessions will be held on Wednesdays from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm and on Fridays from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm. Registration (https://extension.umaine.edu/register/product/umaine-wild-blueberry-conference-series/) is required. More information can be found on the agenda page. For phone registration, please call Mary Michaud 207.581.3175. All sessions are listed at the end of this newsletter.

We are currently finishing the final edits on the 2021 Wild Blueberry Research and Extension Report. All growers on our mailing list will be sent a paper copy of the report and updated pesticide charts in February.

National Heritage Area Feasibility Study Update

In this February meeting organized by the Sunrise County Economic Council, discussion will focus on “Do we have the community interest, resources, and organizational capacity  to support a National Heritage Area (https://www.nps.gov/subjects/heritageareas/index.htm) designation?” This is a time to ask questions, provide feedback, and learn how the National Heritage Area program could benefit our businesses, communities, and organizations.

Choose from one of two options to join this public Zoom discussion.

  • Register for Wednesday, February 3, 2021 10: am – 12:00 Noon
  • Register for Thursday, February 4, 2021 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Registration is limited to 30 participants for each date.


Drought and Irrigation Survey
The University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is working together to assess the direct and indirect effects that drought has had on agricultural production in Maine over the past five years. The survey is confidential and anonymous. A final report will be made publicly available in Spring 2021. The results of this survey will identify opportunities for investment in water resources in Maine, such as reviving programs that assist with pond construction or irrigation infrastructure and inform future outreach and education around these specific issues.

Questions?  Contact Rachel Schattman, email: rachel.schattman@maine.edu
Phone: 207.581.2913. To take the survey.

NASS Maine Wild Blueberry Crop Survey
The New England office of the National Agricultural Statistics Survey (NASS) is specifically looking for wild blueberry growers and processors to report their crop data. The survey  should be filled out by the end of February.

New Online Content

Dr. Phil Fanning gave a presentation titled A Decade of SWD: Lessons for Management,  which is posted on the website for viewing.

Two Technician Positions Available

1. Lowbush Blueberry Disease Program with Dr. Seanna Annis
Blueberry Plant Pathologist, Dr. Seanna Annis is looking for a Research Assistant to work on her Lowbush Blueberry Disease Program in the School of Biology and Ecology at the University of Maine in Orono. The full job description and application portal can be found at http://jobs.umaine.edu/. A cover letter, resume, and names and contact information for three professional references are required. Review of applications to begin on January 20, 2021. Tentative start date is February 8, 2021.  Any questions about the position, please contact Dr. Seanna Annis via: email sannis@maine.edu or at 207.581.2621. The University of Maine is an EO/AA employer.

2. Wild Blueberry Extension and Research with Dr. Lily Calderwood
Extension Wild Blueberry Specialist, Dr. Lily Calderwood is looking for a Research Assistant to join her Research and Extension Team as a member of Cooperative Extension. Work includes assisting with weed, soil, and nutrient management research and Extension topics. The full job description and application portal can be found at http://jobs.umaine.edu/. A cover letter, resume, and names and contact information for three professional references are required. Review of applications will begin on February 8, 2021. Tentative start date is March 1, 2021.  Any questions about the position, please contact Dr. Lily Calderwood via: email lily.calderwood@maine.edu or at 207.581.2621. The University of Maine is an EO/AA employer.

2021 Virtual UMaine Wild Blueberry Conference Series

Register Online

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.

Jan 29: Solutions for Online Sales and Farm Management
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 3: Insect Pests (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 5: Weed Control Practices in New Jersey (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 10: Beginning Wild Blueberry Production
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 12: National Specialty Food Industry and Market Trends
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 17: Acidic Podzol Soils
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 19: Disease IPM (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 24: Organic Pest and Crop Management  (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.

Feb 26: Next Steps in Building a Wild Blue Wine Industry
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 3: Fresh Pack Line Improvements
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.

March 5: Wild Blueberry Pollination (1 PA Credit)
This talk will give an update on how to assess and conserve pollinators in the wild blueberry system.

March 10: Plant Stress and Climate Change
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.

March 12: Recipe to Market: Ca$hing in on Business Opportunities in 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.

March 17: Wild Blueberry Commission Update
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.”

March 19: Fertility and Water Management in Northern Highbush
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.

March 24: Crop Insurance and Other Updates
Chris Howard from the UMaine Extension Crop Insurance Program will give an update on wild blueberry related crop insurance programs. If any other organization would like to give an update to this group on this date please reach out to Lily Calderwood at lily.calderwood@maine.edu.