Yarborough speaks with Ellsworth American about Maine blueberry market glut

David Yarborough, a wild blueberry specialist with University of Maine Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension, was interviewed by The Ellsworth American for the article, “Market glut hits blueberry growers hard.” This year, many wild blueberry growers in Hancock and Washington counties left portions or entire fields unraked as the price of berries plummeted, according to the article. A market glut, fueled in part by competition from high-bush blueberries, drove prices for Maine blueberries so low that farmers were losing money on their operations, the article states. The prices growers get for Maine’s low-bush, wild blueberries have decreased steadily for the past five years, according to Yarborough. In 2012, he said, farmers were getting 76 cents per pound. In 2014, that number was 60 cents. Last year, it was 27 cents. Yarborough said he hasn’t heard of large-scale transfers of blueberry land, but he has seen some older farmers who were planning to sell decide to do so this year. “If you can’t sell [blueberries] to a processor, what are you going to do with them?” Yarborough asked. “There’s only so much of a market for fresh berries … I think the major challenges are just being able to survive the lower prices and come out of it farming a little differently, a little more efficiently. But you still have to have that market for your berries.” Mainebiz also reported on the glut, citing the Ellsworth American article.