Press Herald interviews Yarborough about blueberry industry struggle

The Portland Press Herald interviewed David Yarborough, a wild blueberry specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and a professor in the UMaine School of Food and Agriculture, for the article, “Maine’s small wild blueberry farmers struggle on what they’re raking in.” Yarborough has worked with wild blueberry growers for 40 years, and witnessed three record harvests in a row that, while impressive and a point of pride, contributed to the drop in price per pound and the current market decline, according to the Press Herald. And he has seen the contributions of other factors to the industry’s dire situation as well. “You can blame Canada, or you can blame cultivated, but you can’t change what is going on in the world,” said Yarborough. He said some growers are letting land grow fallow after a late frost in June damaged many fields and decreased the yield, which is usually 5,000 pounds per acre. “Even the large companies have some acres that are only yielding 2,000 pounds per acre,” said Yarborough. “So they are just mowing the land.” And processors told small growers last year that they wouldn’t be able to buy this year’s crops. “I feel for the small growers that have been doing this all their life and now they don’t have any market for their berries,” Yarborough said. “The question is, will the price come around to the point where it doesn’t undermine their ability to operate?”