ORONO (AP) – Maine’s 2003 wild blueberry harvest totaled 80.2 million pounds, a 29 percent increase over the previous year, according to final figures released by the New England Agricultural Statistics Service.

Production in 2002 was 62.4 million pounds.

Canadian wild blueberry production last year came in at 120.8 million pounds, an all-time high, said David Yarborough, the University of Maine’s cooperative extension specialist for blueberries.

But the cultivated, high-bush blueberry harvest, primarily from Michigan and New Jersey, was down at 187.7 million pounds, well below the five-year average of about 210 million pounds, Yarborough said.

“The amount of blueberries out there, either wild or cultivated, has an effect on what the price will be based on supply and demand,” he said. “The Canadian crop was big, but the cultivated crop was down. It could have been worse for us if cultivated had a bumper crop, too.”

Maine growers are now preparing for the 2004 crop, but the industry faces an uncertain future because of a price-fixing case, now under appeal, that resulted in a $56 million verdict against three major processors.

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