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Climate change may bring Maine more cranberries along with peaches and kiwis

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Temperature changes due to global warming could lead to an expanded cranberry harvest in Maine, although rising temperatures could also bring an increase in pests and diseases that prey on cranberry vines, a University of Maine scientist says.

Charlie Armstrong, a cranberry specialist at the university, says peaches and kiwis might also become a viable crop in Maine. Peaches are typically found as far south as Georgia but in Maine are grown only in small numbers in rural areas.

"I never thought it would be possible to grow peaches in Maine," Armstrong said.

Cranberries are grown on only 210 acres in Maine. This year's yield is 25,000 barrels, about 2.5 million pounds, slightly less than the best ever crop in 2010 of 29,000 barrels but more than last year's crop of
23,700 barrels.

Increased pest infestation did not lead to steep crop declines this year, and crop disease was low. Low yields elsewhere in the nation have also improved Maine's market position.

Climate change, Armstrong said, could "prove beneficial."
"For some growers, it might be more of a headache, because there might be more pests," he added. Cranberry harvests in large-producer states like Massachusetts and New Jersey could be negatively
affected, while Maine, with its cool evening weather, might become favorable for cultivation.

Grower-owned Ocean Spray of Lakeville-Middleboro, Mass., is seeking land as far north as the Canadian province of New Brunswick (North Cairn,  Portland [Maine] Press Herald, Sept. 30). --RE

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500


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