Key US crops affected by extreme weather

Several crops in the US are suffering from the effects of severe weather over the last month or so. One of the affected sectors is the Maine blueberry industry, currently reeling from drought and frost.

One of the biggest problems was the drought, which afflicted much of northern New England throughout the summer. The rural Maine counties that contain most of the country’s wild blueberry fields are also currently facing moderate drought conditions, as indicated by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Additionally, the surprise frost in early June contributed to a challenging season, according to Lily Calderwood, a wild blueberry specialist at University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

The five-year average for the size of the crop is nearly 84 million-lbs. but signs point to a crop that could be half of expectations this year, according to the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine. However, demand for the fruit increased recently, and the industry can bounce back from the tough year, noted Eric Venturini, the executive director at the commission.

Also dealing with the heatwave are avocado farmers. An early September heatwave appears likely to reduce the size of next year’s California avocado crop.  High temperatures during the Labor Day weekend caused fruit to drop from trees, but marketers say the current crop will be larger than first expected.

The 2019-2020 California avocado season was expected to be a strong one, with farmers projected to exceed the commission’s volume estimate of 373 million-lbs.


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