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An extensive mail survey of Maine wild blueberry growers was conducted in spring 2010, the first extensive survey of growers in almost three decades (1974). The objective of the survey was to quantify the diversity of growers’ philosophies, management practices, and perspectives on their priorities in producing blueberries. We also wanted to identify the sources of new information upon which growers rely. Our results are based on 100 responses from a grower population of 353. We asked growers to place themselves into one of four categories representing distinct approaches to management: conventional (12%), integrated pest management (IPM, 65%), organic (13%), or no-spray (11%). Conventional and IPM growers incorporated more pesticides into their production than organic and no-spray growers. IPM growers, however, were more likely than conventional growers to monitor their fields for pests and need for fertilizer. Conventional growers harvested fewer acres, made less money from blueberries, and were less likely to attend University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE) meetings than IPM growers. No-spray growers were similar to organic, with a few differences. No-spray growers used herbicides and fertilizers whereas organic growers used sulfur and pulled weeds by hand. No-spray growers made less of their income from blueberries, were less likely to grow blueberries full time, and were less likely to attend UMCE meetings regularly than organic growers. Conventional and IPM growers (pesticide adopters) shared similar goals: making a profit, maintaining land value, providing healthy food for the public, and leaving a legacy for their family. Pesticide-avoiders (organic and no-spray)—characterized by their minimal use of pesticides and lower likelihood to rent or purchase commercial bees—also shared similar goals: providing healthy food for the public, making a profit, and being a steward of the environment. In general a few trends were observed for all growers. Field size was associated with management intensity and education level, and years as a grower had little influence on production practices.
Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station
wild blueberries, organic blueberry production
Rose, A., F.A. Drummond, D.E. Yarborough, and E. Asare. 2013. Maine wild blueberry growers: A 2010 economic and sociological analysis of a traditional Downeast crop in transition. Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment Station Miscellaneous Report 445.