ORONO, Maine (AP) — Maine’ s wild blueberry growers are cautiously optimistic about prospects for a healthy crop this year.

University of Maine experts expect an average or slightly above average yield of 80 million to 100 million pounds of berries, thanks to adequate rain in May and June.

Blueberry specialist David Yarborough says the hot, humid, but largely dry, first few weeks of July stressed crops to some degree. But he says recent showers are refreshing them.

The blueberry harvest begins this week in southern Maine, next week in the mid-coast area and the first week of August in the extensive blueberry barrens Down East.

Maine is the nation’ s top wild blueberry producer. Last year’ s harvest came in at 3 percent above the 2006 crop.