An Aroostook County manufacturer of wood pellets is cutting back production because of the mild winter and the loss of a key client.

Northeast Pellets of Ashland makes the pellets as an alternative heating source. The company has reduced operations from five to three days a week, in part because of the loss of University of Maine at Fort Kent. The school made up 15 percent of the company's business.

Company President Matthew Bell says retail sales have been down due to unseasonably warm weather. The university's decision to get its pellets from a Canadian supplier was a big hit to the company.

Bell says he still has contracts with the University of Maine at Presque Isle and with Northern Maine Community College

Northeast Pellets invested almost a half million in the mill’s capacity and efficiency last winter when business was booming during a long spell of below-average temperatures

Bell says there will be reductions in hours for 13 full-time employees.

Northeast Pellets was the first pellet plant in the state when it opened in 2006. Three other pellet plants have since opened.