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Conventional blueberry field near land of interest - beware or worry not?  RSS feed

 
Steven Kraft
Posts: 11
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I am thinking about investing in a piece of land in mid-coast Maine. The land is 23.2 acres and I've spent some time there, with the owner, and it is quite appealing on many fronts. One of the things the seller was excited to tell me was about the very high pressure that came out of the wells in the area. The plot for sale is part of a large tract his father used to own that has been split up over the years. Anyhow, one of the neighboring pieces of land is a conventional commercial blueberry field. Is this something that would steer any of you away from purchasing this land? Do you reckon this could have strongly adverse effects on the groundwater? Are there other issues related to this that I should be aware of? Or is this not that big of a deal? The owner of the plot for sale believes the land is owned by a large business, so I haven't gotten any single contact who might be able to give me more information as to what they are spraying or how much, unfortunately.

Thanks for any help or advice. Best,

_S
 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
Posts: 367
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Whether or not they contaminate your groundwater depends on who is uphill of whom. I'd probably avoid it for reasons of windblown poisons though, after reading horror stories of people getting sick because some neighbor "nearby" sprayed their lawn.
 
Isaac Hill
gardener
Posts: 356
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
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Yeah depends on the specifics but you can probably do some sort of buffer and be fine if you have 23 acres.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
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Location: FL
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I grew up in Bangor, spent summers in Columbia Falls, where my great-grandmother had 12 acres of wild blueberries.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has a big hand in recommending spraying to growers. See their Pest Chart (.PDF) for an idea of what is being sprayed and the application rates.

I've watched the fields being sprayed. We'd mark the area with milk jugs by hanging them on trees and bushes around the perimeter of the target field. Because of the trees, terrain, and shape of the fields, airplanes don't have the maneuverability to perform the job accurately except on the big barrens. Helicopters are used for the smaller fields. They fly across the field at a height of 10-20 feet, applying the spray with precision. While most of the stuff goes on the crops, the stuff is airborne and you can smell it as it drifts. We would stay inside for a couple hours. My grandmother had half of her field sprayed each year. It's a 2 year crop, so we'd pick the north side one year, the south side the next. This is a common practice, so you can expect your neighbor to spray part of his lands each year.

The pest we had to contend with was a blueberry maggot. I have no idea what kinda bug it was, but I've seen the maggots, about 1/8" long, white, and squirmy. At the end of a day of picking we'd haul the berries to the packing company pick up point. We just called it 'the factory.' She sold her berries to NEPCO, Northeast Packing Company. Another big biz is Stewart's. As I recall, there was a test that could be performed on a load of berries. A small sampling would be taken each day. I think the berries were then squished under UV lighting. This probably made the bugs glow in the dark. Get too many bugs, they don't buy your berries. Spraying is a small investment to get your crop sold.
 
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