Maine blueberry industry reels from drought, frost, virus

Business

FILE – In this July 27, 2012 file photo, wild blueberries await harvesting in Warren, Maine. The state’s wild blueberry crop suffered in 2020 due to drought and a lack of labor caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A late spring frost, a devastating drought and labor troubles wrought by the coronavirus pandemic conspired to make 2020 a difficult year for the wild blueberry producers who harvest the fruit in the nation’s northeastern corner.

America’s producers of wild blueberries are largely located in Maine, where the blueberry industry has battled fungal plant diseases and erratic market conditions in recent years.

The harvest takes place every summer, and industry experts say this year’s crop was likely far off last year’s total of about 87 million pounds.

Members of the industry say they’re still optimistic about the future because of the growing demand for so-called “superfoods” like wild blueberries.

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