Wild Blueberry Newsletter – January 2015

January 2015

Wild Blueberry Commission Newsletter – Winter 2015

Change in Wild Blueberry Spring Meetings

In past years, we have had our March spring meetings in the evening in both Waldoboro and Ellsworth and on Saturday in Machias.  This year the Wild Blueberry Advisory Committee has suggested a different format for the spring meetings, which will include a one-day, long meeting giving us the opportunity to go into more detail on each topic.  This year’s spring meeting will be held on Friday, March 20, 2015 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ramada Inn on the Odlin Road in Bangor.  Program details, registration and directions will be provided in the February newsletter.

Pre-registration is required for the meeting and luncheon. Deadline to register is March 10, 2015.

Please contact Phoebe Nylund at phoebe.nylund@maine.edu, 207.581.2892 with the number and names of those attending the meeting/luncheon, a telephone number and an email address.

Maine Wild Blueberry Crop 2014

The 2014 wild blueberry crop for Maine, as reported by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service on January 23, 2015, totaled 104.4 million pounds of which 600,000 pounds were fresh. This is the second largest crop, after the 110.6 million pounds we had in 2000, and exceeds the five-year average of 89.6 million pounds. Production figure details for wild and cultivated blueberries in the United States may be found in the “USDA NonCitrus Fruit and Nut 2014 Preliminary Summary, January 2015” available on the web at http://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Todays_Reports/reports/ncit0115.pdf.

Blueberry plants in Maine had a long fall but a cold winter that extended into March, so plants were delayed in their development and pollination occurred later than normal.  We did observe some winter injury and there were scattered frosts, but not much damage occurred.  Despite the delay we had a large bloom with plenty of blossoms creating the potential for a large crop. We had very few infection periods for mummyberry disease so most growers were able to protect plants with just one fungicide application and there was little Botrytis blossom blight observed.

We had poor conditions at the beginning of pollination, especially on some fields in the mid-coast area where pollination was not good, but pollination conditions improved in early June when most of the crop was in bloom. Set was very good in coastal Downeast fields. Tony Jadzack’s estimate for bees contracted to pollinate wild blueberries this year was up to 80 thousand hives, which continues the trend of a “new” record number of hives used to pollinate Maine’s blueberry crop.

In Jonesboro, we received 4.78, 3.27, 3.39, 5.92, 2.68 inches of rain in April, May, June, July and August respectively, so moisture was adequate which provided for both good blueberry and weed growth.  We also had delayed detections of Spotted Wing Drosophila and populations did not increase until much later in August.  Growing conditions were cool and moisture adequate throughout most of the season so crop quality was good and harvest was extended through the second week of September, which gave us the second largest crop on record.

Canadian Wild Blueberry Crop

The wild blueberry crop in Canada was 222 million pounds, making this a record crop for Canada which is more than 1.5 times last year’s crop of 130.5 million pounds and well above the five-year average of 147.9 million pounds. In Quebec there was good snow cover and little winter injury and pollination weather was good but growers were not able to get adequate numbers of honey bees and so supplemented the crop with bumblebees and leaf-cutter bees.  A crop of 78.3 million pounds was the best in the past 5 years and exceeded the 50 million pound average.  In Nova Scotia a combination of increased honeybees and native pollinators and good growing conditions produced a large crop of 62 million pounds greatly exceeding the average of 40.6 million pounds.  An increase in the number of pollinators and good native bee numbers also paid off in New Brunswick which had a record crop of 60 million pounds well above their average of 42.3 million pounds. Prince Edward Island also had a bumper crop at 22.7 million pounds, which exceeded their five-year average of 14.9 million pounds. This crop increase is also attributed to the growing number of acres coming into production and is expected to continue to increase the average crop in future years.

North American Blueberry Pie 2014

 Total North American Blueberry crop was 327.9 wild + 718.9 cultivated = 1046.8 million pounds.

Cultivated Blueberries

Total reported cultivated production in the United States reported by the USDA for 2014 was 312.6 million pounds fresh and 241.1 million pounds processed for a total crop of 566.9 million pounds. In addition, British Columbia, Canada had a bumper cultivated crop of 150 million pounds, 60 million fresh and 92 million processed, reflecting the increase in the acreage.  Michigan/Indiana had a slightly under average crop of 94 million pounds. In New Jersey the crop was down to 57.9 million pounds, which was also less than last year’s crop of 65 million pounds. There was a larger crop on the Pacific Coast (CA, OR, WA) at 237.2 million pounds, which exceeded last year’s record crop of 223.1 million pounds with both Washington and Oregon at 96.1 and 86.1 million pounds respectively. In the Southern States (AL, AR, FL, GA, MS, NC) the crop was 175.9 million pounds, with GA at 94 million pounds making it the largest producer of cultivated blueberries in the United States, but well behind Canada’s British Columbia at 152 million pounds.


David E. Yarborough
Extension Blueberry Specialist

Wild blueberry fact sheets, past newsletters, contacts, resource links, calendar of events, and more can be found at the wild blueberry website: www.wildblueberries.maine.edu

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2015

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Call 800.287.0274 or TDD 800.287.8957 (in Maine), or 207.581.3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.

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