Blueberry Hill Farm
         University of Maine
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Name:        Blueberry Hill Farm

Address:    Jeff Brann - Farm Superintendent

                   Blueberry Hill Farm

                   1643 Old Rte. 1

                   PO Box 189

                   Jonesboro, Maine 04648-0189

Phone:        207-434-2291

Fax:            207-434-7481


Products and Services:

-educational programs

-outreach to blueberry growers & processors

-use of facilities for projects and activities

-oversees pesticide applications

-research of blueberry products

-research of blueberry insects

-research of health benefits of blueberries

-development of less toxic farming methods

-testing of irrigation strategies

-research of fruit pollination and bee health

What Makes Blueberry Hill Farm Unique?

With blueberries being such a popular fruit, it often comes as surprise to people that the wild lowbush blueberries that are abundant in Maine, and that sometimes are taken for granted, are not found in any other part of our country. Blueberry Hill Farm in Jonesboro is the only university-based wild blueberry research facility in the entire nation.  The farm is part of the University of Maine’s College of the Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture of the University of Maine.

Twenty years after blueberry farmer James Wyman requested that a laboratory be founded to conduct research on the production of wild blueberries, the Maine Legislature finally agreed to allocate $25,000 for this purpose in 1945.  A Blueberry Tax law was also introduced that same year, to help fund the research and outreach programs at the University of Maine.

For the cost of $35,058, the original laboratory building at the Jonesboro farm was constructed in 1945.  It was situated on the thirty-acre Sullivan property adjacent to Route One that had been purchased for $2500. The initial research structure was utilized for sixty years.  In 1955, thirty additional acres were purchased. Two additional storage buildings were erected in 1950 and 1976.

It was in 2004, that the original laboratory and research building at the Blueberry Hill Farm were replaced with a 4000 square-foot building that was better equipped to handle the advanced technology and new required regulatory measures.  There is a field lab in the new building as well as a clean lab with a walk-in computer controlled chamber and a cold room. The laboratory building is a state-of-the-art facility.  It also houses a conference room, as well as office space.

On the day that Unique Maine Farms’ visited,  Judy Collins, a research entomologist with the  the University of Maine, was conducting research on the spotted wing drosophila.  This particular invasive insect from Japan is regarded as a nightmare.  Not only does it decimate blueberries by cutting a hole in the fruit and depositing eggs, but it destroys all types of soft-skinned fruits such as peaches, raspberries, and blackberries. These insects are highly prolific with the ability to lay thirty eggs on one blueberry and produce a new generation every ten to fourteen days.

Judy Collins has extensive experience with the insects that bother blueberries since she has researched them for over twenty-five years. She explained how the researchers and workers at Blueberry Hill Farm have been placing red plastic cups with a yeast-sugar solution in hopes to trap the spotted wing drosophila throughout the blueberry fields.

Judy Collins works closely with Dr. Frank Drummond, a professor of insect ecology at the University of Maine at Orono.  He has worked for over twenty years in the research

of insects in the blueberry barrens and at various blueberry farms and is well-known for his work with native bees and honeybees.

Many other specialists have carried out research at Blueberry Hill Farm. Dr. David Yarborough has dedicated a great deal of time and effort to the study of the management of weeds in wild blueberry fields and the improvement of wild blueberry yields.

Joshua Stubbs, a Farm Mechanic II, and Christopher McManus, a Farm Technician, at Blueberry Hill Farm, kindly shared information about the harvesting of blueberries that takes place at Blueberry Hill Farm.  They each demonstrated the use of a motorized walk-behind harvester that was designed by Zane Emerson of Maine Wild Blueberry Equipment.  The harvester dramatically increases the amount of blueberries that can be  collected.  There has been some discussion in the media on how the incorporation of these types of mechanical harvesters of blueberries will decrease the demand for migrant workers in large blueberry operations.

Wild blueberry growers navigate to Blueberry Hill Farm to access the resources and to request assistance with all types of farming issues that tend to materialize including the eradication of weeds, the need for pollination sources, improved management techniques, and pest management methods.

The wild blueberry industry in Maine is a major force.  Around ninety million pounds of blueberries were harvested in 2013.  Thanks to the research and development work that has taken place at Blueberry Hill Farm over the past sixty-nine years, the Integrated Crop Management (ICM) blueberry fields are producing significantly higher yields.  A majority of the blueberries that are harvested are processed, rather than being sold as fresh fruit, and processing research and value-added product research also takes place at the farm.

A great deal of collaboration takes place at

Blueberry Hill Farm with staff, scientists, graduate students, blueberry growers and processors.  Jeffrey Brann, the Farm Superintendent at Blueberry Hill Farm, and his employees were recognized in 2010, with the Maine Department of Labor’s Safety and Health Award (SHAPE) for providing a safe and healthy workplace.  At the same time that Blueberry Hill Farm was recognized, Randy Smith, of the Aroostook Farm, was also the recipient of another SHAPE award.  The Aroostook Farm’s profile also appears in this project.

With the recent media coverage of the health benefits of blueberries as a source of antioxidants and the increased demand for the fruit, the future of the wild blueberry industry in Maine is looking strong. It is fortunate that blueberry growers and processors, students, teachers, and the general public have the opportunity to benefit from the research taking place at Blueberry Hill Farm in Jonesboro.

Around the

Judy Collins

Christopher McManus

Joshua Stubbs and Judy Collins

Research of 
Dr. David YarboroughBlueberry_Hill_-_Yarborough.html
Research of Dr. Frank DrummondBlueberry_Hill_-_Drummond.html