Downeast Blueberry Growers Hoping for Rain



CHERRYFIELD — While vacationers and residents alike keep an eye on the skies, hoping for rain to break the oppressive heat wave, Downeast blueberry growers are giving the matter full attention, hoping for the rain that can turn yields from mediocre to above-average.

“It’s region by region,” said organic blueberry grower Hugh Lassen.

Lassen, who along with his wife, Jenny, owns and operates Intervale Farm in Cherryfield, said blueberry crops in some areas of Maine are thriving while other areas are struggling to overcome setbacks caused by a wet windy spring and subsequent lack of rain.

Lassen said blueberry growers from all areas experienced a great winter with plenty of snow cover that led to great blossoms early this spring.

Two or so weeks of soggy, cold weather, however, meant those blossoms were not as well pollinated as in the past, he added.

Lassen said domestic honeybees brought in to pollinate blueberry blossoms require warm and dry weather; otherwise, they don’t leave the hives.

He said native bees operate in harsher conditions, but there are fewer of them. Though he considered bringing in bees this year — his sixth at the farm — he didn’t.

“I will for sure next year,” he said, adding that he has a “pretty spotty crop” now.

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James Straub

Reporter at Ellsworth American
Former Ellsworth American reporter James Straub covered the towns on Deer Isle and the Blue Hill Peninsula. He lives in Brooklin.