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2010 Newsletters - Wild Blueberry Newsletter – July 2010

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wild blueberry newsletter headerJuly 2010

Wild Blueberry Crop Prospects

Maine - The blueberry plants in Maine came through the winter well with little or no winter injury. We did have an early spring, initially plant growth was three weeks earlier than average, consequently, we had a very early bloom and three nights of frost during the second week of May. Fields that were either low-lying or further away from the coast experienced 40 to 60% crop loss, but many fields Downeast were in early bloom so they did not receive as much damage. Pollination weather was excellent with some days at the end of May reaching over 80 degrees, so set was very good in fields which invested in pollinators. We did have a number of infection periods for mummy berry disease but for those that monitored their fields and applied a fungicide to prevent infection there was minimal damage, but those that did not experienced extensive damage. We did have isolated outbreaks of spanworm or flea beetle but if treated in a timely manner caused minimal damage. We are seeing some early blueberries and it appears we are still at least a week early in their development. In Jonesboro, we received only 2.04 and 2.93 inches of rain in April and May respectively but got 6.23 inches in June and had just over 2 inches by mid-July.

The high temperatures have put the plants under stress and more herbicide injury has been observed this year than in the past. If we continue to get adequate moisture for the remainder of the summer, it appears the crop in Maine should be below average at 60 to 70 million pounds as early harvests are producing less than expected yields.

Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia had a relatively mild winter, which resulted in lower than normal winter damage throughout most of the province.  The bud numbers in the fall appeared strong so the crop potential looked positive going into the spring.  March and April were warm and dry, and this led to abnormally early plant development in many areas of the province.  Some areas of the province were 3 weeks early, but May became cool and damp, which slowed down crop advancement, but also extended the pollination time, as many fields began to flower in early May.  Native pollinators were plentiful this spring and as of late June, fruit set is looking promising.  Overall the crop is looking positive heading into July with growers cautiously optimistic that yields could be better than last year’s poor crop but frost, poor fruit set form, less than ideal pollination, weather, botrytis, leaf diseases etc. may be having a bigger impact than first thought and so the crop could be less than average at 25 to 30 million pounds.

Quebec – After a mild winter and a snow cover under normal, Quebec had had a hot and dry spring with very low precipitation. The vegetative plant year growth suffered under these conditions. A lot of stress has been observed!  On the crop year, the plants were less affected by the hot and dry conditions and bloom, which usually starts at the end of May, was advanced one week ahead of normal.  At one week to ten days into bloom, we got a considerable amount of frost damage on the night of May 31 and some other fields also had some frost damage in June as well. This year we expect to have a decrease in production of about 50 %. Dry weather is further reducing the crop potential.  The estimated blueberry crop will be 25 to 35 million pounds instead of the usual 70 million pounds normally produced in Quebec.

New Brunswick – Generally, vegetative fields looked good in 2009. There were fields identified with various insect pests including flea beetle, gall midge and chain spotted geometer, and leaf disease issues but no major outbreaks. The winter was mild and little winter injury was noticed as the fields looked good in the spring. Bud break was early this spring likely due to the warm weather. It is estimated that most fields were 7 to 10 days earlier than normal. Growers had very good control of Monilinia blight, and disease pressure was low because of the dry spring, so an average crop of about 25 million pounds is expected.

Prince Edward Island – Prince Edward Island’s blueberry crop came through the winter well with very little winter injury.  The crop seemed to develop early due to warm temperatures in late March to early April.  This put the crop ahead by an estimated two weeks compared to historical trends.  However, cooler weather seemed to stall crop development for a short period of time.  There were several infection periods for Monilinia blight and many growers applied two fungicide sprays and were successful in controlling disease development. Pollination season was ahead of schedule this year by an estimated two weeks.  Many growers cut back on their hive requirements, as well as other inputs in an attempt to reduce their production costs.  The weather during bloom was wet early on, but enough flying days were available to achieve a decent fruit set.  Valdensinia leaf spot also showed up during the second week of June in a field with a known history of the disease.  Leaf feeding insects appeared to be isolated, with no major outbreaks reported.  PEI’s production is expected to be around 9 million lbs in 2010, due to the fact that growers are cutting back on their harvested acreage and other inputs.

Wild Blueberries: Total wild crop is estimated at about  144 to 169 million pounds which is considerably lower than last years crop of 226 million pounds.

Crop Situations in Other Areas

Cultivated Blueberries – Total cultivated production is estimated at 469 million pounds which is above the 450 million pounds produced last year. About 70% will be sold fresh and 30% processed as an effort is continuing to be made to market more of the crop as fresh.

Michigan/Indiana – The crop was about two and a half weeks early this year and is estimated as the same as last year’s 103 million pounds for Michigan with 50 million fresh and 53 million processed.

New Jersey, NY, ON – Estimated crop in NJ is 40 million pounds with 32 million fresh and 8 million processed, but there are problems obtaining enough labor to pick the fresh crop.

Pacific Northwest (WA,OR,BC,CA) – Estimate a good crop with OR at 50 million pounds and WA at 42 million pounds BC is estimating a of 90 million pounds with about 50% being sold as fresh despite problems with wet weather, hail and disease.

Southern States (NC,GA,AR,FL,MS,AL) – The southern states have had wet weather.  Florida produced 16 million pounds that went all to fresh. GA is estimated at 47 million pounds with 28 fresh and 20 processed and NC will have 38 million pounds with 10 million being processed.


REGION 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 5-YR AVG
Michigan, IL, IN, other 77.3 86.4 94.6 113.8 106.2 95.66
New Jersey 46 52 54 59 59 54
NY an others 1.0 2.2 2.5 2.5 4.6 2.56
British Columbia 65 63 70 70 89 71.4
OR, WA, CA 51 64.6 91.9 89.1 109 81.12
North Carolina 26 25.5 14.5 28.5 34.1 25.72
AR,FL,GA,AL,MS 32.7 45.4 26.7 56 48.4 41.84
Total Cultivated 299 339.1 354.2 418.9 450.3 372.30
Maine 58.4 74.6 76.5 89.95 88.5 76.99
Quebec 44.4 69.2 44 72 70 59.92
Maritime Provinces
Nova Scotia 31.5 30.6 26.4 41.5 24 30.8
New Brunswick 19.7 20.4 26.1 33.6 33 26.56
Newfoundland 1.5 1 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.82
Prince Edward Island 8 8.4 8.3 9.8 10.3 8.96
Total Wild 163.5 204.2 181.8 247.45 226.3 204.05
Cultivated & Wild 462.5 543.3 536 666.4 676.6 576.35

Wild Blueberry Shippers and Processors are Responsible for Wild Blueberry Taxes

Periodically the question is asked; who is responsible for paying the Wild Blueberry tax?  Monetarily, one half of the tax is paid by the grower and the other half is paid either by a processor or shipper.  However, it is the Wild Blueberry processors and shippers who are responsible for remitting the wild blueberry tax to the Maine Revenue Service by November 1st.  In other words, the shippers and processors are responsible for collecting the tax on berries grown and sending the whole tax to the Maine Revenue Service.

Sometimes there is confusion regarding berries that are fresh packed.  Since the definition of a “processor” in Maine statute includes “fresh packing”; any person, firm, partnership, association or corporation fresh packing wild blueberries is responsible for remitting the full wild blueberry tax on all pounds fresh packed.

Prior to processing or shipping wild blueberries in Maine, a processor or shipper of wild blueberries shall obtain certification from the state tax assessor (Maine Revenue Service) by applying for tax registration.  A grower transporting wild blueberries from the field to a certified shipper or processor is not a shipper; however, a “Maine Wild Blueberry Transport Permit” is needed if a grower transports more than a 25 pound quantity of wild blueberries. The “Maine Wild Blueberry Transport Permit” may be obtained from the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine (581-1475).

If you are a processor or shipper you may contact the Maine Revenue Service at 207-624-9609 to obtain the proper forms or to talk to someone in person about getting certification, and paying the wild blueberry tax. It is important to note that you must complete an “Application for Tax Registration” and obtain the certification before you file a “Blueberry Tax Return.”

If you have online access and Adobe® Reader® the forms are available online in pdf format at the Maine Revenue Services website at

From the website complete the following steps:

  1. Go to “Related Links” on the right side of the page to click on “Application for Tax Registration”
  2. Go to page 7 and page 11 to complete the application – to complete page 11 fill in lines 56 to 58 and check line 61 “Blueberry Tax” in Section 9
  3. Return the application to the Fax number or to the mailing address at the top of the form
  4. Once you are registered and receive your certification you should receive the Blueberry Tax Return in September before the taxes are due on November 1st of each year.



David E. Yarborough
Extension Blueberry Specialist

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.


Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.

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

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