Trouble May Lurk for Maine's Beloved Blueberries

Berry fields are warming faster than rest of the state, which doesn't bode well
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 5, 2021 12:11 PM CDT
Trouble May Lurk for Maine's Beloved Blueberries
Wild blueberries await harvesting in Warren, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

Maine's beloved wild blueberry fields are home to one of the most important fruit crops in New England, and scientists have found they are warming at a faster rate than the rest of the state, per the AP. The warming of the blueberry fields could imperil the berries and the farmers who tend to them because the rising temperatures have brought loss of water, according to a group of scientists who are affiliated with the University of Maine. The scientists analyzed 40 years of data and found that the state experienced a 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.98 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in average temperature, but the blueberry fields of Down East Maine experienced an increase of 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.34 degrees Fahrenheit).

That seemingly small difference is significant because rising temperatures could lead to water deficits that put the blueberries at risk, said Rafa Tasnim, a doctoral candidate in ecology and environmental science at UMaine and the study's lead author. Lack of water could result in smaller crop sizes and blueberries that are less likely to survive to be harvested. “What we are expecting is the temperature is going to increase a lot and we will not get as much rainfall in the summertime especially,” said Tasnim, who led a research team that published the study in the research journal Water earlier this year. “What that will mean for the wild blueberry plants is they will be water stressed.” Read more on the issue here.

(More blueberries stories.)

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