Climate change is wreaking havoc with Maine’s world famous wild blueberries, and could imperil future crops of one of the state’s most important exports, scientists say.
Rising temperatures in blueberry fields across the state have brought on a loss of water, scientists at the University of Maine said. They analyzed 40 years worth of data which indicates that while the state experienced a rise in temperature of 1.98 degrees Fahrenheit, the blueberry fields experienced a 2.3 Fahrenheit rise, according to The Associated Press.
Although the difference in temperature seems low, scientists say that the rising temperatures are likely to lead to a shortage of water in the fields, which could contribute to smaller crop sizes.
“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 Rafa Tasnim, a doctoral candidate in ecology, who headed up the team that published their findings in the journal Water. “What that will mean for the wild blueberry plants is they will be water stressed.”
Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the US. Last year, farmers produced 47.4 million pounds of wild blueberries, the lowest number since 2004.