Archive for the ‘News’ Category

UMaine Cooperative Extension Lab Bond Selected as Question 2, WABI Reports

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

WABI (Channel 5) reported the order of bond questions for the November ballot was determined by a drawing in Augusta. A bond referring to funds for an animal and plant disease and insect control lab administered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension was selected as Question 2. The question reads, “Do you favor an $8,000,000 bond issue to support Maine agriculture, facilitate economic growth in natural resources-based industries and monitor human health threats related to ticks, mosquitoes and bedbugs through the creation of an animal and plant disease and insect control laboratory administered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service?”

Press Herald Advances Food Preservation Workshops

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

 

The Portland Press Herald reported on July food preservation workshops hosted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The workshops teach techniques for hot water bath and pressure canning, as well as fermentation and drying of herbs, fruits and vegetables. Workshops are scheduled in Lisbon Falls, South Paris and Falmouth. The cost is $15 per person for materials, and registration can be completed online.

SeacoastOnline Interviews Kaczor About Health of Maine’s Beaches

Monday, July 14th, 2014

 

Keri Kaczor, of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and coordinator of Maine Healthy Beaches, spoke with SeacoastOnline about the health of Maine’s beaches following the release of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s annual report on the water quality at beaches throughout the nation. Maine Healthy Beaches is a partnership between the UMaine Extension/Sea Grant, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and local municipalities. The statewide organization is dedicated to monitoring and keeping beaches clean. Kaczor said despite Maine’s low rank in the NRDC report, there are plenty of beaches in the state with nearly spotless records, and most of those beaches are in state or national parks where there is little to no developmen

Haskell Facilitates Facilitation

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

 

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Professor Jane Haskell specializes in strengthening skills of group facilitators so meetings can be conducted effectively and efficiently. Fishermen and graduate students are among her more than 400 clients.

This summer, Haskell, who has authored a national facilitation-training curriculum, is working with members of Wabanaki Nations.

She’s also researching how to buoy skills of facilitators who assist refugees. Specifically, she’s studying how American-born, English-speaking facilitators and group leaders ask for feedback from refugees who have recently arrived in the United States.

Refugees, she says, may not have positive experience with regard to giving comments in a formal group setting and may not understand the concept from a Western perspective or framework.

Haskell and a colleague who specializes in immigration and refugees issues are exploring how to best partner with refugees so that their perspectives are heard and understood in Maine.

Maine Sea Grant Updates Guide to Managing Hurricane Hazards

Monday, June 30th, 2014

 

Hurricane hazards come in many forms, including storm surge, heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds and rip currents. All of these can affect people who live on shorefront land. To help property owners take steps now to make their homes more resilient and less damage-prone over the long run, Maine Sea Grant has updated the Maine Property Owner’s Guide to Managing Flooding, Erosion & Other Coastal Hazards.

The online resource contains detailed information on navigating state and federal regulatory and permitting processes associated with actions such as elevating a house, moving a house back away from the water, restoring dunes, creating buffers and stabilizing coastal bluffs. Normandeau Associates Environmental Consultants worked in partnership with Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension to make this new information available. Now, not only can coastal property owners learn more about the hazards they face and what can be done to protect their property, they also can access step-by-step recommendations and permitting guidance.

Examples of property owners who have taken some of these steps are highlighted in case studies from across southern Maine. Information about a tour of resilient properties to be offered in September will be online.

Property owners in Maine’s coastal communities are encouraged to review this updated guidance document as soon as possible. By taking action now to prevent hurricane damage, public and private property owners can greatly reduce their risk of damage and avoid significant costs and delays associated with repairs and restoration.

UMaine Extension’s Integrated Pest Management Program Cited in Press Herald Article

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

 

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s integrated pest management (IPM) programs were mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article about local organic strawberries being limited in Maine. Cathy Karonis of Fairwinds Farm in Bowdoinham said she has contemplated going organic, but can’t risk crop failure or inconsistent quality on her 14 acres of strawberries. Karonis said she follows UMaine Extension’s IPM reports and sprays when necessary. IPM is a comprehensive, decision-making process for solving pest problems. It is a sustainable approach providing economical control with the least possible hazard, to people, property and the environment.

2013 Newly Certified Master Gardener Volunteers

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Counties 2013 Master Gardener Volunteer graduates(LISBON FALLS) – Recently, ten dedicated volunteers were certified in the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Counties 2013 Master Gardener Volunteers Program. They include, from Androscoggin County, Mark Drummond, Paula Curtis-Everett, Nancy Morris, and Corbin Lichtinger, from Sagadahoc County Michelle Rines, and Ted Wolfe and from Cumberland County Teeter Bibber, Elly Dominguez, Ruth Klein and Peri Lanoue. Pictured from left to right; Ted Wolfe, Michelle Rines, Elly Dominguez, Peri Lanoue, Teeter Bibber and Mark Drummond.

The classroom portion of the 2014 program was held at the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn and focused on vegetable and fruit production topics presented by Extension Educators, Extension Specialists, and the Maine Board of Pesticide Control Trainer, among others.

To complete their Master Gardener Volunteers Certification, 22 participants will complete 40 hours of volunteer time helping others learn about research-based, sustainable gardening.  A variety of volunteers projects are underway, including, growing vegetables and fruit for the Maine Harvest for Hunger Project, helping friends and neighbors with gardening questions, assisting in maintaining the gardens established at the Maine Maritime Museum, the Sagadahoc County Courthouse, the Auburn P.A.L. Center and the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer, Hope and Healing.

The 2015 training will be held at the Topsham Public Library on Thursday afternoons beginning in late February.

To learn more about the Master Gardener Volunteers program, contact Administrative Assistant KymNoelle Sposato at the Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Counties Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Main St., Lisbon Falls, ME 04252 phone 353.5557 or in Maine 1.866.500.9088 or email kymnoelle.sposato@maine.edu or visit the UMaine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer page online.

Farm Scoop – June 2014

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

MOFGA-Logo-Green-72dpi-for-web-250x237Farm & Homestead Day – June 14

Farm & Homestead Day, a free event, offers hands-on and interactive sessions on farming and homesteading skills. It will be held on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s Common Ground Education Center on Crosby Brook Road in Unity. More information can be found on the MOFGA website.

 

Maine Family Farms: Life and Business in Balance

By Associate Extension Professors Leslie Forstadt and Tori Jackson, University of Maine

With the 2012 Census of Agriculture numbers available, a portrait of Maine farmers reflects lives that are complex, with much to keep in balance. There are more than 8,000 farms in Maine, an increase of 12 percent since 2002. Of these, 49 percent list their primary occupation as farming, with the average age of the principal operator 57 years old. Among women farmers, 57 percent list their primary occupation as farming, and 38 percent of them are in the “beginning farmer” category, with 10 or fewer years of farming experience on the present farm. The principal female operator is 53 years old on average, but there are young women too—24 percent of primary women farmers are under the age of 44 years.

The needs of farmers at each life stage are unique, as choices about farming practices, child rearing, business growth, and succession planning enter into decision making.

This series, Maine Family Farms: Life and Business in Balance, provides a starting point for farm families to think about issues that range from family conversations to managing stress and sharing ideas about life and business balance.

Titles include:

#4801 Why “Thank You” Matters: Expressing Appreciation
#4802 Running Successful Farm-Family Meetings
#4803 Farm and Family—Finding Balance
#4804 Understanding Roles in the Farm Family
#4805 Recognizing the Signs of Farm Family Stress

There are rewards and stressors at each stage of farm business and farm family life. This series of publications was designed with the people of Maine’s farming industry in mind. Interpersonal and intrapersonal needs are addressed, as readers are encouraged to think about, discuss, and access resources to support the personal experiences and relationships in family farming. We hope that these fact sheets will help foster farm family sustainability.

Workshops are available on the topics listed and more! For farmers and farm service providers Contact Leslie Forstadt for more information.

 

Farm plot2Food Donation and Liability on the Farm

Are you interested in donating produce you cannot sell, or having gleaners come into your fields to harvest unwanted crops? Are you worried about liability issues? The Federal Public Law 104-210, The Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, may relieve any fears or trepidation related to allowing gleaning or donating to occur on your farm.

Federal law: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-104publ210/pdf/PLAW-104publ210.pdf

Maine State Revised Statutes: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/14/title14ch7.pdf

The existing UMaine Extension publication Bulletin #4301, Food for Your Community: Gleaning and Sharing has this information included in it.

 

Vegetable Growers: Expanded Crop Label for Dual Magnum® Herbicide

Maine vegetable growers now are able to use Dual Magnum® on an expanded range of vegetable crops including: asparagus, bell pepper, cabbage, carrots, garden beets, dry bulb onions, green onions, spinach, Swiss chard, pumpkin.  The target weeds for this registration and use are galinsoga and yellow nutsedge.  Growers need to go to Syngenta’s web site and agree to a waiver of liability and print off the 24C label. All label instructions will be supplied after the application for use is completed. Once on the farm assist web site, click products at top left, then indemnified labels.  Create a user name and password, select Dual Magnum, and the crop.  This is ONLY for the product Dual Magnum®, EPA #100-816.  It is not for Dual II Magnum® or the generic Dual/metolochlor products. Rates are about ½ of the normal rate of Dual® on many of these crops, so growers will need to pay attention to that.

 

Agricultural News – Sources You Might Find of Interest

  • Harvest Public Media – Harvest Public Media is a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. Based at KCUR in Kansas City, Harvest covers these agriculture related topics through an expanding network of reporters and partner stations throughout the Midwest.
  • Morning Ag Clips – This electronic ag news service collects breaking news and information for today’s farmer. They aggregate stories from the general media, industry trades, extension publications and other sources. Through their website or state-by-state daily e-blast, farmers, ranchers, industry leaders, advocates, educators and friends of farming get quick news on agriculture happenings every business day.  Morning Ag Clips New England edition is available.

 

usda (1)USDA Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program Sign-Up Begins –
Deadline is August 29, 2014

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that sign-up begins today for 2012 crop losses under the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program. The program, established by the 2008 Farm Bill, provides for one final period of eligibility for producers suffering crop losses caused by natural disasters occurring through Sept. 30, 2011, for crops intended for 2012 harvest.

“This sign-up period is only for those producers who suffered crop losses for 2012 crops before Sept. 30, 2011” said FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia.

To be eligible for SURE, a farm or ranch must have:

  • At least a 10 percent production loss on a crop of economic significance resulting from a disaster occurring on or before September 30, 2011. A crop of economic significance contributes at least five percent of the expected revenue for a producer’s farm.

Additionally, the crop must also meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • The crop must be considered a 2012 crop which means, in general, that the crop was intended for harvest in 2012;
  • For insured crops, the coverage period must have begun on or before Sept. 30, 2011;
  • For crops covered by the Non-Insured Crop Assistance Program, the coverage period must have begun on or before Sept. 30, 2011;
  • The final planting date, according to the specific coverage for the crop, must have been on or before Sept. 30, 2011.

Note:  A producer who only plants fall seeded or spring seeded crops with a final planting date on Oct. 1, 2011 or later) cannot meet the above eligibility criteria and will not be eligible for the 2012 SURE program.

  • A policy or plan of insurance under the Federal Crop Insurance Act or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for all economically significant crops;
  • Been physically located in a county that was declared a primary disaster county or contiguous county by the Secretary of Agriculture under a Secretarial Disaster Designation. Without a Secretarial Disaster Designation, individual producers may be eligible if the actual production on the farm is less than 50 percent of the normal production on the farm due to a natural disaster. A “farm” for SURE purposes means the entirety of all crop acreage in all counties that a producer planted or intended to be planted for harvest for normal commercial sale or on-farm livestock feeding, including native and improved grassland intended for haying.
  • Producers considered socially disadvantaged, a beginning farmer or rancher, or a limited resource farmer may be eligible for SURE without a policy or plan of insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program coverage. Farmers and ranchers interested in signing up must do so before the Aug. 29, 2014, deadline. For more information on the 2012 SURE program, visit any USDA Service Center or online.

 

NRCS Announces Deadline for Conservation Programs

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the application deadline dates for two of its conservation programs — the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Program.  The Fiscal Year 2015 application deadline for both of these programs is August 15, 2014.

Agricultural producers and foresters are encouraged to sign up now for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides financial and technical assistance to address varying natural resource priorities. The Fiscal Year 2015 funding consideration application deadline for most EQIP fund pool categories will be August 15, 2014.  This does not include the EQIP National Water Quality Initiative and Conservation Innovation Grants.  These deadlines are yet to be determined.

The August 15, 2014 deadline for 2015 funding consideration is for both applications for EQIP local Field Office fund pool categories (such as animal waste, cropland, forestry, seasonal high tunnels, pasture, and wildlife) and the statewide fund pool categories (Beginning Farmer, Socially Disadvantaged, Tribal Projects, Water Conservation/Irrigation, Aquatic Organism Passage Projects, Conservation Activity Plans, On-Farm Energy and Organic).  The August 15, 2014 signup deadline is an extension to the previously posted July 1, 2014 deadline for the EQIP local Field Office fund pool, or “general” categories.

Agricultural producers are also encouraged to sign up now for the Agricultural Management Assistance Program (AMA), which also has a Fiscal Year 2015 funding consideration application deadline of August 15, 2014.  AMA assists agricultural producers to manage risk and voluntarily address issues such as water management, water quality, and erosion control by incorporating conservation practices into their farming operations. For 2015, Maine NRCS will again be offering financial assistance for irrigation systems and  introducing an opportunity for funding deer exclusion fencing for orchards through the AMA program.

There is a continuous, year-round sign-up for these two programs, but applications submitted by August 15, 2014 will be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2015.  Proposals submitted after that date will be held for Fiscal Year 2016 funding consideration.

Interested landowners should visit their local NRCS office located at the USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. USDA Service Centers are listed online, or in the telephone book under United States Government, Agriculture Department.

More information on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Agricultural Management Assistance Program can be found online.

 

Seeds for Veterans

If you are or know of a family of a military veteran, Burpee Seeds has a special program with free seeds. UMaine Extension is partnering with Maine Farmer Veteran Coalition in making these seeds available in Maine. To obtain the “welcome home” packet of garden seeds, contact Extension at 1.800.287.1471 or email Lynne Hazelton. Use Seeds for Veterans in the subject line of your email message.

UMaine Extension Offers Harvest Preservation Workshop

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014
canned picklesUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Preserving the Harvest workshop will be held Tuesday, June 17, 4:30-7:30 p.m., at Little Ridge Farm, 101 Gould Road, Lisbon Falls.

UMaine Extension staff members will lead the workshop, which will include hands-on, USDA-recommended hot water bath canning and freezing food preservation methods. Learn to preserve pickles, jam, vegetables, and fruits, as well as rhubarb orange chutney. Home food preservation allows for year-round consumption of locally grown foods and enables preservers to control additives, including sugar and sodium.

Fresh produce, canning jars, and other canning equipment will be provided. Participants should bring a potholder. Cost is $15 per person; partial scholarships are available. Register by June 10 at umaine.edu/food-health/food-preservation/hands-on-workshops/. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.781.6099, 800.287.1471 (toll-free in Maine).

Farm Scoop – May 2014

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

University of Maine Cooperative Extension offers FREE Hayfield, Pasture Management Workshops

Baling hayRick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension educator in Waldo County, will lead the “Got Hayfields?” workshops, which focus on how to best manage hayfields and pastures to produce high-quality feed for livestock. Topics include weed control, managing soil fertility, hay and pasture renovation techniques, grazing management and basics of forage quality.

Workshops are scheduled for the following dates, times and locations:

•  May 14, 5:30-7:30 p.m., UMaine Extension, 24 Main St., Lisbon Falls

•  June 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Noon Family Sheep Farm, 78 Sunset Road, Springvale

Pre-registration is requested. To register, or to request a disability accommodation, call 1.800.287.1426, or visit the Waldo County program page.

 

2014 FAMACHA Workshop

GoatOn Saturday, May 17th at 3:00 p.m. the North East Livestock Expo (NELE) in Windsor, attend a FAMACHA workshop, designed to equip sheep and goat producers with the skills and knowledge to determine the degree of infections of Haemonchus contorutus (barber pole worm). Cost PER FARM: $20.00 (enrolls multiple attendees). For more information or to enroll, please visit the Cumberland County program page.

 

Pilot Farmers’ Market in Lisbon

The Town of Lisbon, under its Healthy Maine Streets initiative, is interested in starting a pilot Farmer’s Market for the 2014 season at the MTM Community Center at 18 School Street. If you are interested in participating in this exciting new market, please contact Economic & Community Development Director, Tracey Steuber.

There will be an informational meeting for all interested vendors on Tuesday, May 20th at 5:30 p.m. at the UMaine Cooperative Extension office located at 24 Main Street in Lisbon Falls. If you are interested, but unable to make this meeting, please let Tracey know.

 

UMaine Cooperative Extension offers 2014
Master Food Preserver Program

Strawberries-with-other-vegsMaster Food Preserver (MFP) volunteers serve to extend Extension’s educational programs in food preservation to adults and youth. The MFP Program includes 10 three-hour kitchen lab sessions in the Gorham Middle School, Family and Consumer Science Room, and the UMaine Cooperative Extension Cumberland County office in Falmouth.

Sessions will take place throughout the growing season from June – September, focusing on food preservation techniques including: canning, drying, freezing, fermenting and winter storage techniques.  

Once MFPs have successfully completed the Program, they serve as a volunteer and resource in the community to provide the public with research-based information from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and USDA.

Details and application packets are available online at the Food Preservation – Master Food Preserver Program page.

 

The Andy Valley Successful Farmer Irrigation Workshop

This is the final session in a series of workshops for farmers in the Androscoggin Valley. Irrigation for Field and High Tunnel Production will cover state regulations, water budget, watering systems, drip irrigation, soil moisture monitoring, water conservation and related programs— May 6—All-day— Classroom session at Androscoggin/Sagadahoc Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Main Street, Lisbon Falls and on-site session  at Six River Farm in Bowdoinham.  Advanced Registration Required. To register contact: Jane Heikkinen at 207.753.9400 ext. 400 for a form or go to www.androscogginswcd.org.

Please notify us with any special accommodation needs by May 1. The cost for this workshop session is $15 per person.  BRING YOUR  OWN  LUNCH . Scholarships are available for second person from the farm. Call at number above for scholarship details. Costs are able to remain minimal because of grant funding provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service under project#68-1218-13-17.

 

University of MaineNew UMaine Extension Garlic Website

Found as an important ingredient in many cuisines, garlic is an easy-to-grow, high value crop that is increasingly popular in Maine with farmers and gardeners. The UMaine Garlic Website will assist in all aspects of the garlic growing cycle.

 

Sign-Up for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs Restored by Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting today, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency.  The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014.  The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment.  Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more.  Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss.  Details are available from any local FSA office.

For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.

 

Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success Free Course for Farmers

The Farmers Market Federation of NY and the NY Farm Viability Institute are cosponsoring an online course in Marketing aimed at farmers called Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success. This program is funded by USDA SARE’s NE Professional Development Program and hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County.

There is no charge for the course which can be taken by farmers at their convenience asynchronously and is accessible any time, day or night. Participants do not have to follow a specific schedule which makes it easier for farmers to participate since they can move through the course at their own pace.

The curriculum includes the following five components, or modules: Self-Assessment, Market Assessment, Customer Assessment, Communications Assessment, and Business Assessment. Within each module there are three sessions which include a video of each live presentation, Q & A documents, glossary of terms, links to additional resources, an online discussion forum, homework assignments, and a quiz. By completing all five modules, farmers will be able to learn essential marketing skills to analyze their personal and business capacity, determine optimal marketing channels, build their customer base, and increase their sales and profits. After completing the course, participants will have all the knowledge needed to create their complete farm business and marketing plan.

Successful completion of all sessions within each of the 5 components including the assignments and quizzes will earn the participant a Certificate of Achievement. In addition, farmers who complete the course in its entirety will be eligible for borrower training credits through the USDA Farm Services Agency.

To register for this free online curriculum to help farmers increase their marketing skills and grow their business, go to the Marketing for Profit: Tools for Success page.

For more information on the curriculum, or on using the course to qualify for borrower training credits, please contact the Farmers Market Federation office at 315.637.4690.

 

Female black-legged tick  photo by Scott Bauer

Female black-legged tick
photo by Scott Bauer

UMaine Extension Tick I.D. Lab

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office has started a new tick identification lab.  The PMO has always identified ticks with averaging around 50 or so specimens a year.  The bulk of Maine’s tick identifications were done at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute in Scarborough.  There, they processed up to 1300 samples per year, looking at tick distribution and occurrence of Lyme disease as well as other tick borne problems.  

As of Dec 31, 2013 they stopped this part of their research and approached the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Pest Management Office to take over the I.D. part of this service.  A website, as well as a submission program/online form, were quickly established, and a $10 fee per tick for ID instated.  To ensure quick turnaround time on specimens, an extensive day-long training was held at PMO for tick ID of the 14 species found in Maine. The program came online the first week April, and the first tick specimens are now being submitted.  Please go online to view the new website and find the submission form.

 

Pollinator Protection – A very important topic for growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators

In 2012, David Yarborough, University of Maine Wild Blueberry Specialist, said, “There are usually about 55,000 hives trucked in each spring from places as far away as Florida, Texas and California.” With anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 bees per hive, that’s a billion bees. Without these pollinators Maine’s wild blueberry crop yields would suffer.  Many other crops also rely on pollinators, especially our fruits and vegetables.

Nationwide, honey bee colonies have been declining in recent years due to several factors, including parasitic mites, viruses, fungal diseases, malnutrition, lack of genetic diversity and improper use of pesticides. The overwintering losses have averaged in the 30% range over the last seven seasons (see graph below courtesy of www.beeinformed.org).  This level of decline is not sustainable.

honey bee loss graph in the US

The prevailing theory among scientists in the EPA, USDA and global scientific and regulatory community is that the general declining health of honey bees is related to complex interactions among multiple stressors including:

  • pests (e.g., varroa mite), pathogens (e.g., the bacterial disease American foulbrood) and viruses.
  • poor nutrition (e.g., due to loss of foraging habitat and increased reliance on supplemental diets);
  • pesticide exposure;
  • bee management practices (e.g., long migratory routes to support pollination services); and
  • lack of genetic diversity.

Growers, commercial beekeepers and pesticide applicators in Maine must work together to help stem this tide of pollinator decline.  The Board of Pesticide Control’s website now has a web page to provide growers and applicators with resources to help reduce the risk of pesticide applications affecting pollinators (see link below).

We all need to know which pesticides and adjuvants are toxic to pollinators and how to reduce the potential for pollinator exposure when we use those products.  Of course the most risky products are insecticides, but there are some combinations of insecticides and fungicides or certain types of surfactants that appear to be toxic to bees and other pollinators in either their adult or larval stages.

Pesticide Bee IconSome products (neonicotinoid and diamide insecticides at first) will have new label warnings that include this “bee icon” on the label.  It is extremely important for growers and applicators to follow the restrictions on those labels very carefully.  Other labels will continue to have language that restricts application during bloom or when bees (or other pollinators) are foraging on flowering crops or adjacent weeds.  Of course those restrictions are equally binding.

Other important practices that pesticide applicators should follow to protect pollinators include:

  • Avoiding unnecessary pesticide applications by following integrated pest management practices
  • Choosing pesticides carefully – see How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides
  • Application of pollinator toxic pesticides (PTP) at night or when temperatures are under 45 degrees F
  • Delaying application of PTP until after full petal fall
  • Avoiding tank mixes, especially with insecticide-miticide or insecticide-fungicide combinations
  • Avoiding spills or splashes that leave pesticides in puddles or standing water
  • Notifying beekeepers within 2 – 3 miles of your application site prior to PTP applications
  • Avoiding multiple applications of systemic insecticides on potted nursery plants
  • Avoiding use of organo-silicone surfactants around bloom periods – see Compendium of Herbicide Adjuvants
  • Proper planting of treated seed to avoid creation of toxic dusts

The Board’s new Pollinator Protection web resource page provides additional information.

More additional resources:

 If you have any questions, please contact us at pesticides@maine.gov .