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Some Maine farms say May's late frost was detrimental to harvesting their crops

One wild blueberry farm in Pittston lost about 75 to 80 percent of its crop.

MAINE, USA — The late frost in May has had immense impacts on some of the state's wild blueberry farms and apple orchards around southern Maine, especially.

One wild blueberry farm in Pittston lost about 75 to 80 percent of its crop. Slow Rise Farm co-owner Katie Mahaffey said the frost was "a gut punch."

"It was like going through the stages of grief a little bit. You had to accept you were going to not have all the berries you hoped and dreamed for," she said.

Usually, Slow Rise Farm gets about 6,000 blueberries every year, but Mahaffey said they only got about a couple hundred pounds as the frost hit at the worst time right as the berries were in the middle of pollination.

"For every berry, there should be another three or four berries," she said.

An Extension Wild Blueberry Specialist at the University of Maine, Lily Calderwood, said the low temperatures hurt harvests in southern Maine more than farms located in central or northern Maine. She said some wild blueberry farms along with apple orchards felt the impacts of the frost.

"A friend of mine called me up and he was in a panic cause all his apples, his blossoms turned brown," Guy Paulin, owner of Brackett's Orchards in Limington, said.

He considers himself one of the lucky ones, as he saw just about eight percent of his prized variety of Honeycrisp apples harmed with frost rings. Other farms in the region had a much different fate.

"A lot of orchards in New Hampshire don't hardly have an apple on the farm, and if they do, it's severely deformed," Paulin said. "You hate to start off on the wrong foot, and that's what it is with the frost."

Renae Moran, a fruit tree specialist and Professor of Pomology at UMaine said the frost impacted trees at certain elevations more than others. Some trees were at elevations with temperatures lower than 28 degrees, while others were higher in slight higher temperatures.

"So, we have orchards that have a full crop and some that have nothing," Moran said. She said she, unfortunately, expects to see more late freezes in the future in that key part of the season when fruits are in bloom.

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