Kennebec Journal quotes Yarborough in report on blueberry crop, drought

David Yarborough, a professor of horticulture in the School of Food and Agriculture and blueberry specialist with the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Kennebec Journal for an article about how some Maine blueberry farmers are using irrigation systems to deal with the recent drought. Maine is about halfway through its typical harvest season and current projections show a production of about 80 million pounds of wild blueberries, slightly below the normal hauls of 85 million to 90 million pounds, according to the article. Yarborough said the industry was in good shape earlier in the year and had potential to see a crop around 100 million pounds, as was the case last year, but rainfall has been down about an inch per month since the summer began. Precipitation has been more erratic and limiting over the last several years as the climate continues to change, Yarborough said, and the hot weather causes stress on the plants. “They need moisture to cool off,” he said. “And if they can’t get it from rainfall, the plants will start taking moisture from the berries.”