Mention Maui and visions of sandy beaches, surfers, palm trees, and umbrella drinks come to mind. Maui certainly has all those things, but dive past the postcard perfect shoreline, and you’ll find that Maui’s unique microclimates and wealth of fertile volcanic soil also make it prime farming land. Here are three spots to get an authentic taste of homegrown aloha.
Maui Gold Pineapple Farm
It’s almost impossible to think of Hawaii without thinking of pineapples. Tropical, sweet, and juicy, pineapples taste of smiles and sunshine. Go right to the source with Maui Pineapple Tours. If you’ve ever wanted to frolic through golden pineapple fields (not recommended—pineapples are spiky), this is the place to do it since it is the only working pineapple farm in the U.S. you can tour. You’ll visit the Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation, home to the trademark Maui Gold pineapple, a variety prized for its sweet flavor and low acidity. Check out the packing and shipping factory, head out to the farm, and eat as much pineapple as you’d like, straight from the fields.
You will leave with sticky fingers, a Maui Gold for the road, and more knowledge about pineapples than you’ll know what to do with (like how to select a good pineapple at home, the best way to cut and core it, even how to grow your own pineapple plant from the crown of the one you just ate). Continue reading
If one Big Island coffee grower is correct, the solution to the industry’s recent problem with the destructive coffee borer beetle might exist in the coffee plants’ own ecosystem.
The beetle was first detected on Big Island coffee farms this year, particularly in the dry South Kona area. Its spread has proved disastrous in some areas, costing farms as much as 75 percent of their usual yield.
Melanie Bondera of Kanalani Ohana Farm thinks the beetle is likely not new to the island and that the infestation might have been due to severe drought conditions that killed off a fungus — Beauvaria bassiana — that had been keeping the beetle in check for years.
Bondera said she got the idea from another farmer at a meeting last month and conducted a study of infected plants on the organic farm that she operates with her husband.
Examining scores of infested beans, Bondera found evidence of “white crystalline stuff” overflowing from beetle exit holes. When she cut the beans open, she found dead beetles stuck in the exit with the fungus growing out of their bodies.
Bondera, who holds a master’s degree in agriculture, speculates that the beetle has been in Hawaii for years but has been controlled by the presence of the fungus, which lives within the tissue of the coffee plant. She and other farmers think that when the drought hit, the fungus died off, allowing the beetles to do more damage. Continue reading
KAANAPALI — For those of us who remember what West Maui used to look like, it’s a cold reality check. Gone are the sugar cane fields that seemed to stretch for miles coloring the landscape with their vibrant hues of green. With the recent phasing out of pineapple in West Maui, it too was another blow to our island’s agricultural roots.
The truth is what was once the “traditional” farm is no longer a viable option for many plantations due to an unstable economy, rising operating costs and global competition. But another solution is offering hope to West Maui’s agriculture woes in the form of Ka‘anapali Coffee Farms — a “new family farm” concept that not only offers a viable option, but a promising one at that.
Thanks to a dynamic collaboration between Kaanapali Land Management Corp. and MauiGrown Coffee Inc., this true agricultural community now melds the best of both worlds — spectacular home sites with a working coffee plantation.
Kona coffee is the market name for a variety of coffee (Coffea arabica) cultivated on the slopes of Mount Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. This coffee has developed a reputation that has made it one of the most expensive and sought-after coffees in the world. Only coffee from the Kona Districts can be legally described as "Kona". The Kona weather pattern of bright sunny mornings, humid rainy afternoons and mild nights creates favorable coffee growing conditions.
There are approximately 800 Kona coffee farms, with an average farm size of less than 5 acres (20,000 m2).
Kona coffee blooms in February and March. Small white flowers cover the tree and are known as Kona Snow. In April, green berries begin to appear on the trees. By late August, red fruit, called "cherry" because of the resemblance of the ripe berry to a cherry fruit, start to ripen for picking. Each tree will be hand-picked several times between August and January, and provides around 20-30 pounds of cherry.
Storm Felicia Menaces Hawaii Sugar, Coffee Areas
New York, Aug 10 – Tropical storm Felicia is churning toward the Hawaiian islands on Monday and may threaten the sugar and coffee farms in the area.
The National Weather Service said in a statement that Maui, one of two areas growing sugar in the state, faces the threat of heavy rains and floods.
The other sugar growing area on Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii may also be targeted by Felicia.
The Big Island is the only producer of Kona coffee prized by the specialty coffee market and connoisseurs around the world.
According to the U.S. Agriculture Department’s monthly supply/demand report, Hawaii is seen producing 160,000 short tons of sugar in 2009/10, down from last season’s 200,000 short tons.
Sugar industry analysts said any downfall in Hawaii’s output as a result of storms would come at a time when the United States would need to import sugar in the spring of 2010 to meet a domestic shortfall.
There are about 600 Kona coffee farms in Hawaii that produces about 2.0 to 3.0 million pounds of coffee per season.