The Somerset Newsflash, May 2023

Important Dates


The News in the County

Integrated Pest Management in Christmas Tree Production Workshop

Balsam Fir tip
Photo by Dave Fuller

June 27, 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Gooley’s Christmas Tree Farm, 249 Seamon Rd., Farmington, ME

Presented by UMaine Extension Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professionals Brett Johnson and Nick Rowley

This workshop will focus on a systematic approach to pest management in Christmas tree production systems. Participants will learn about weed management and there will be a discussion on control of smooth bedstraw at Gooley’s Farm. Participants will also learn about two significant Christmas tree insect pests and will hear of some current research being carried out by UMaine Extension to control these pests.

FREE. No registration required. For more information, visit the program page. For special requests, please contact Emily Collins at 207.474.9622 or email

Food Preservation Two-Part Workshop

Jars of PicklesJuly 11 and 12, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

Somerset County Office, 7 County Drive, Skowhegan

Ever wonder how to preserve all those great garden fruits and vegetables? University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s hand-on, two-part food preservation workshop will teach you the basics of canning, freezing, and drying garden produce, including water bath and pressure canning. Learn from the experts. We will provide fresh produce and canning jars.

Cost: $15 per person for 2-part series or $10 per class. The fee includes materials. Registration is required.

July 11, 2023 – Part I: Overview of canning and water bath canning.

July 12, 2023 – Part II: Pressure canning, freezing, and dehydrating.

For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact Sharon Paradis, 207.834.3905, 1.800.287.1421 (in Maine) or

Brett’s Bulletin: Issues Impacting Somerset’s Farms & Gardens

Brett Johnson is our Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional and develops educational programs and provides technical assistance to commercial agricultural producers, home gardeners, and community members.

Warm-season crops should be planted after the soil is sufficiently warm.

As air temperatures slowly climb this month soil temperature will increase at variable rates based on factors such as soil moisture, soil texture, and sun exposure. You may be tempted to plant your warm-season crops such as peppers, tomatoes, melons, and squash immediately after the threat of frost has passed. Taking your soil temperature using a soil thermometer will give you the assurance that the soil has sufficiently warmed to allow for expeditious germination of seeds or the vigorous growth and development of transplanted seedlings. The average soil temperature should reach 65℉ before planting most warm-season crops. Strategies to warm the soil in the spring include the use of raised beds, plasticulture, and timely tillage. You can learn more about the use of mulch and other season extension options in Bulletin #1022.

Alice’s Adventures: EFNEP Updates for the Month of May

Alice Cantrell is our Nutrition Community Education Assistant and leads classes as part of Cooperative Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

Homemade PastaAlice has been busy teaching gardening programs to youth and adults. She currently has a gardening series with Bloomfield Elementary in Skowhegan, Forest Hills Consolidated in Jackman, and the McAuley House in Bangor.

Soon, Alice will be done with the youth classes and will start cooking classes for summer programming at various afterschool and summer programs both in-person and virtually.
Lastly, Alice will be attending a few conferences, including an all EFNEP CEA conference in Orono and the Maine Nutrition Council conference in Bar Harbor.

The News

Becoming an Outdoors Woman

May 21, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Bryant Pond 4-H Camp and Learning Center, 17 Conservation Lane, Bryant Pond

The Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program seeks to provide introductory learning experiences in a variety of outdoor skills including hunting, fishing, wilderness survival, and outdoor skills.

For more information and to register, visit the program page.

2023 Master Gardener Plant Sale

Variety of seedlingsMay 27, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

UMaine Gardens at Tidewater Farm, 200 Presumpscot Point Rd., Falmouth

In addition to organic vegetable and herb seedlings and annuals and perennials, there will be an exemplary selection of Maine native plants and pollinator plants. Master Gardeners will be on hand to assist and advise you on plant selections. All of the proceeds from the plant sale go back into the Master Gardener Volunteers program to support educational and food security initiatives.

For more information, visit the program page.

Preserving Low-Sugar Strawberry Jams & Jellies Webinar

Thursday, June 8, 2023, 1 – 1:45 p.m.


Strawberry season is right around the corner in Maine. Join UMaine Extension nutrition staff to learn how to make strawberry jam and jelly. We will discuss using natural and alternative sweeteners in jam and jelly-making and demonstrate making low-sugar jam. Instructors will demonstrate preparing recipes in an interactive format.

Registration is required; a $5 donation per session is optional. Register on the program webpage to receive the link and resources. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact UMaine Extension, 207.781.6099;

Digital Plant Disease Image Submission

If you suspect your plants have a disease, you can easily take a picture and submit it online for identification and control measures.

Dr. Alicyn Smart announced that the Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab has a new feature for those wanting a plant disease ID via an image. Now, you can go to the lab’s website and visit the Digital Plant Disease Diagnostic Submission Form webpage. Here, clients and county staff can enter their contact and sample information and upload images for ID.

The digital sample process video has been updated to reflect this change.

UMaine Extension Tick Lab adds Powassan virus and Heartland virus to tick testing service

Blacklegged Tick or Deer Tick (adult female)
Griffin DillDeer tick.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick Lab is adding two new pathogens to its tick testing panels.

The Tick Lab will now be screening ticks for Powassan virus and Heartland virus in addition to testing for the pathogens that cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia.

Powassan virus is a rare but serious pathogen that can be transmitted by infected deer ticks, woodchuck ticks or squirrel ticks; Heartland virus has been linked to the bite of a lone star tick. Powassan virus can cause severe neurological symptoms and is a potentially fatal illness. 

“We are constantly striving to improve our tick testing service to better serve our clients and help understand the changing dynamics of tick-borne disease in Maine,” says Griffin Dill, UMaine Extension Tick Lab coordinator. “The addition of Powassan virus and Heartland virus to our testing panel underscores our commitment to providing comprehensive and reliable tick testing solutions for the people of Maine.”

Dill also notes that while cases of Powassan virus have been reported in Maine dating back more than 20 years, Heartland virus has only been found in certain Maine wildlife species.

To reflect the increased scope of the tick testing service, the price will change from $15 to $20 per tick sample.

The Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee recently unanimously recommended additional funding to support the growing demand on UMaine’s Tick Lab and maintain affordable access to testing for Mainers. If the state appropriations is ultimately approved, the university plans to return the testing fee per sample to $15, well below what other public university labs in the Northeast currently charge.

More information on ticks in Maine and submitting tick samples to the lab is available on the tick laboratory website, or by contacting 207.581.3880, 800.287.0279 (in Maine);

Helpful Publications

Spring is here and that means the planting and growing season will soon be getting underway and people will be pursuing outdoor activities. We have many resources to educate you about pruning trees and shrubs, starting seeds at home, insect repellents, ticks, mosquitoes, and Lyme disease. Fiddlehead season will be here soon, and we have information on cooking and pickling fiddleheads, along with an instructional video.

Here are just a few publications available from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension publications catalog that may interest you:

#2751  Starting Seeds at Home

#2762  Growing Vegetables in Container Gardens

#4198  Facts on Fiddleheads

#4060  Facts on Edible Wild Greens in Maine

#2514  Growing Rhubarb in Maine

#2067  Growing Strawberries

#2422  Growing Fruit Trees in Maine

#2172  Raspberry and Blackberry Varieties for Maine

#2410  Plant Propagation in Maine

#2411  Planting and Early Care of Fruit Trees

#2701  Designing Your Landscape for Maine

#5037  Japanese Beetle

#2513  Pruning Forsythias in Maine

#2078  Home Vegetable Gardening

#5047  Ticks

#2367  Lyme Disease

#5108  Insect Repellents

#5110  Mosquito Management

Remember, UMaine Cooperative Extension has a variety of publications available that may interest you; everything from agriculture, small business, home, family and youth, gardening, and lots more! So pull up a chair and browse the publications catalog. You’ll be amazed at what you find!

The News in Agriculture

Learning Opportunities

Free Farm Succession Planning Assistance in Maine!

No-cost succession planning assistance is now available to Maine farmers. Reach out to initiate a no-cost consultation to take advantage of free succession planning assistance with this available funding by May 31.

Land For Good provides guidance to farmers, landowners and communities amid the challenges of farmland access, tenure, and transfer. They have helped hundreds of farmers find innovative solutions that keep their farms in farming, whether or not they have an identified successor. With this no-cost assistance for Maine farmers, they can help farmers provide a meaningful legacy and address the financial, legal and business challenges involved in transferring a farm to a next generation family member or unrelated successor.

Notices and Publications

Free Farm Business Advising Opportunity for Maine Farm and Food Businesses

Thanks to grant funding from the Northern Border Regional Commission, there is an opportunity for free business consulting for Maine farm and food businesses located in Androscoggin, Aroostook, Franklin, Hancock, Kennebec, Knox, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington counties.

Consulting can help with profitability enhancement, generational transfer and estate planning, strategic planning, management coaching, and more. Both start-up and established businesses are eligible. Businesses can receive up to $5,000 worth of consulting services at no cost to them. Work must be completed by June 30, 2023, so act now. For more information, contact

Setting prices for your upcoming market season?

The Maine Farmers Market Price Report provides market specific price data on a range of products including eggs and vegetables. The report is an interactive resource made possible with funding through the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry and the support of the Maine Federation of Farmers Markets, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Farmland Trust, and the University of Maine.

No-Till Listserv Launched

MOFGA recently created a new email-based Google Group as a place for discussion and resource sharing focused on the topic of no-till and low-till crop production in Maine. Join the group here. Please reach out to Anna Mueller ( if you have any questions or issues joining the group, and she can add you directly.

The News in 4-H

Summer of Learning Series Opening for Registration Soon

4H Clover

Keep an eye open for registration news about the Summer of Learning series. There will be a great assortment of different topics that will be offered in multi-week workshops, from science subjects to a variety of art-based projects and a lot in between. More details coming soon! 4-H members will have a short window of advanced registration before it is opened to a wider audience. Space is limited.

4-H Adulting 101 SPIN Club

The “4-H Adulting 101 Series” will introduce basic adult life skills by exploring a different topic each week including personal values; building healthy relationships; buying and caring for a car; youth entrepreneurship; mindfulness and stress management; and a topic chosen by the participants. UMaine Extension 4-H staff and guest speakers will lead the discussions.

The club is free; limited to 20 participants. Register by June 10 on the event webpage to receive the Zoom link and introductory email. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact 207.324.2814; Additional information also is available on the Extension 4-H Virtual Learning webpage.

Save the Date for 4-H Dairy Judging and State Show

The Maine State 4-H Dairy Show will take place on July 22 and 23 at the Windsor Fairgrounds in Windsor, ME. The contest is open to all 4-H members who want to participate and will include educational workshops, a fitting contest, a grilled cheese contest, and more!

For more information on upcoming 4-H dairy events visit the 4-H Dairy webpage or contact; 207.342.5971.

2022/2023 4-H Volunteer Training Opportunities

As we get ready for the new 4-H year, we are looking forward to offering a variety of learning experiences (both in person and virtual) for our 4-H volunteers. Sessions are free of charge, but require registration. Some sessions have limited space. Visit the 4-H Volunteer Calendar of Training Opportunities to learn more and register!

For more 4-H news, check out 4-H Happenings, our monthly 4-H newsletter for Somerset County.

The News in Homemakers

Extension Homemakers is a volunteer group that develops leadership skills, supports community causes, and promotes UMaine Extension’s educational programs in nine Maine counties. These organized programs are part of the statewide network of Extension Homemakers.

Local group members meet throughout the year to participate in educational programs and identify community projects, such as providing assistance to local food pantries, nursing homes, or veterans groups, or funding educational scholarships or youth camp programs.

Volunteer in Somerset County!

Would you or someone you know like to become more engaged in volunteerism throughout Somerset County? Consider joining Homemakers! The Somerset County Extension Homemakers are always welcoming new members. Please visit the Maine Extension Homemakers website for general information about the program or reach out to the Somerset County Extension Homemakers President, Rita Fortin with any questions or to express interest. Rita can be reached at 207.453.2945 or at You may also contact the Maine Extension Homemakers Coordinator, Lisa Fishman at 800.287.1421 or at