Media report on new fiddlehead study warning against overharvesting

The Bangor Daily News and News Center Maine reported on a new study from a University of Maine Cooperative Extension expert that highlights the dangers of overharvesting fiddleheads. David Fuller, an agricultural and nontimber forest products professional, found that fern crowns with all the fiddleheads removed in a single harvest suffered significant decline in growth in the subsequent years, and in some cases were killed outright. By the third consecutive year of harvesting, those ferns exhibited a drop in mean fiddlehead yield per crown from 5.1 to 1.4, as well as mortality in 50% of the crowns. The plants in which Fuller harvested half of their fiddleheads exhibited a decrease in the mean number of fiddleheads from 6 to 4.7 per crown in the third year. The control group of plants left unharvested produced the same average number of fiddleheads every year. “These findings suggest that fewer than half of the fiddleheads from a given plant could be harvested and be sustainable with no follow-up harvest that year,” Fuller said. “Plants whose fiddleheads have already been harvested by other harvesters that spring should be left alone.” WGME (Channel 13 in Portland) shared the BDN report. and shared the UMaine news release.