Pesticide Rotation on Onion Thrips and Onion Variety Trial in Bulb and Green Onion Crops Webinar

This free webinar is open to all growers in Hawaii

The webinar discussion will cover:

  • Pesticide rotations to control onion thrips: yield and pest pressure
  • Variety trials of green and bulb onions
When: Wednesday, July 27th, 2021, from 4:00 to 5:30 PM
Zoom information will be sent to registrants
Registration is required: RSVP to Rosemary by emailing to


  • Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite
  • Joshua Silva
  • Kylie Tavares

HDOA Continuing Education Credits:

  • CEUs 1.5 hours
  • Approved categories: Commercial 1a, 9, 10, and Private 1

DOWNLOAD the Webinar Flyer

Open to everyone without regard to race, age, sex, color, or disability. Educational activities are accessible for individuals with disabilities. For more information or to request an auxiliary aid or service (e.g., sign language interpreter, designated parking, or material in alternative format), contact Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite at (808) 244-3242 or via email at seven days before the activity/event.

Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite Ph.D.
Assistant Extension Agent, Edible Crops
Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Science
UH CTAHR Maui Cooperative Extension Service
310 Kaahumanu Ave., Bldg. 214 Kahului, HI 96732
808-244-3242 ext. 232
" No task is too big when done together by all"

Sweetpotato Varietal Trial Field Day Enormous Success

For this trial 12 varieties of Sweetpotato were measured for the Marketable Yield and Weevil damaged per variety.

The participants of the Field Day provided information on each varieties appearance, taste, and texture - yes, each participant was provided with cooked samples of each variety!

This Trial was to help growers make decisions to determine which variety of sweetpotato to invest their efforts in for the various markets.

The sweeter varieties were more marketable for various reasons but were prone to insect damage.

Dr. Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite Ph.D. surveys the rows of sweetpotato grown for the Varietal Trial.
Ernest Rezents, Professor Emeritus Maui College and former head of the MCC Agriculture Department, looks for Rough Weevil damage as the typical damage done by Sweetpotato Weevil is displayed by Dr. Gutierrez-Coarite.

Sweetpotato Varietal Trial Field Day

This field day is open to all growers in Maui and will cover:
Yield and pest damage of twelve sweetpotato varieties.

When: Wednesday, July 14th, 2021, from 3:00 to 4:00 PM
Where: Kula Agricultural Park, lot # 16. 757-797 Pulehu Rd, Kula
(Face masks and social distancing during the event are required)
Registration is required: RSVP to Rosemary by emailing to

DOWNLOAD the Field Day Flyer

Open to everyone without regard to race, age, sex, color, or disability. Educational activities are accessible for individuals with disabilities. For more information or to request an auxiliary aid or service (e.g., sign language interpreter, designated parking, or material in alternative format), contact Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite at (808) 244-3242 or via email at seven days before the activity/event.

Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite Ph.D.
Assistant Extension Agent, Edible Crops
Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Science
UH CTAHR Maui Cooperative Extension Service
310 Kaahumanu Ave., Bldg. 214 Kahului, HI 96732
808-244-3242 ext. 232
" No task is too big when done together by all"

Mahi Pono farmers pivot amid pandemic

Maui News
by Kehaulani Cerizo –

New crops go to market; 3,500 acres of plantings slated this year –

Wind. Drought. Pests. Farming in Central Maui already holds a unique set of challenges. Add a global pandemic and agriculture operations are tested in a whole new way.

So Mahi Pono, the largest agriculture company on Maui, has made key changes to its operations in light of coronavirus.

The pandemic affected everything from shipping costs — a 46 percent increase in Young Brothers rates took effect last year — to in-field work that needed COVID-19 safety protocols. Restaurants and hotels — major markets for local produce — closed, causing the company to look at the type and scale of its crops.

One bright spot of the pandemic is that it emphasized the need for food sustainability, making farming more essential than ever, Mahi Pono officials said.

“We’re an island state that continues to import about 90 percent of all of our food; that makes us vulnerable every time there’s a natural disaster, shipping issues or a global pandemic,” said Shan Tsutsui, Mahi Pono chief operating officer.

During a recent farm tour, Tsutsui and Mahi Pono officials discussed the pandemic’s impact on last year’s farm plan and products made available in 2020, along with adjustments they’ve made to this year’s plan.

They highlighted the Chef’s Corner project, a test plot for new crops; the progress of the company’s community farm, which rents parcels to local farmers; and recent plantings that have done surprisingly well, including watermelon, broccolini, kale and green beans.

Instead of producing a signature crop, Mahi Pono wants to be known for an array of locally grown foods — a big departure from the monocrop of sugar cane that has occupied Central Maui fields for more than a century.

“Transforming former sugar cane fields into diversified agriculture is not an easy task,” Tsutsui said. “It takes time, hard work and financial commitment.”

Watermelon for the people

Chase Stevenson, Mahi Pono Chef’s Corner farm manager, showed off its rows of green, yellow and purple beans, butternut and kabocha squash, red kale, green kale, dinosaur kale, bok choy, green onions and orange sweet potato.

The corner, comprising about 40 acres of organically managed land off Maui Veterans Highway, tests what works best for Mahi Pono farmers and for the market, Stevenson said. From there, farmers scale and grow. Each time the crop is rotated, it improves the soil.

Stevenson, who has about a decade of Maui farming experience at Kula Agriculture Park and in Haliimaile, said farming in the central plains is both challenging and rewarding.

“You never know what you’re going to run into. It is fun even though it doesn’t sound fun — it keeps things interesting,” Stevenson said, laughing.

Some crops, such as watermelon, were a pleasant surprise. Watermelon grown on about a half-acre was consumed almost entirely by the local market with the remainder shipped to the Big Island, Tsutsui said. Because it was a hit, watermelon fields will be expanded with yields scheduled for summer.

Darren Strand, vice president of agricultural outreach and business development, said the company is learning that beans, broccolini and kale do really well, but with COVID-19 causing restaurant and hospitality markets to scale back, it’s hard to move produce that would typically sell easily.

“Anything you grow with a good quality and a consistent supply, you are going to be able to move,” Strand said. “Hopefully things are going to turn around in the next month or so and we will be positioned with this project, and some potatoes, onions and papayas, to be ready to hit that and run.”

Farther south, sweet onions are at various stages of growth, with some ready for April or May harvest. Non-GMO solo and sunrise papaya trees that were sticks last year have shot up and are producing well.

In all, Mahi Pono will plant more than 3,500 new acres of crops this year, according to Grant Nakama, vice president of operations.

Another program, the Mahi Pono community farm, expects tenants to move in by the end of this month. The program provides “farm ready” land, including water, to local growers for $150 per acre a year. Tentative agreements have been reached with 14 farmers and small businesses for an initial 60 acres. A second phase of community farmland will add more acreage, officials said.

Pivoting amid the pandemic

Despite the pandemic, Mahi Pono last year brought its products to market under the Maui Harvest brand. Potatoes were sold at Whole Foods in Kahului, Honolulu and Kailua; watermelon, KTA Market in Hilo; papayas, Takamiya Market in Wailuku; watermelon, potatoes, eggplant, Pukalani Superette; papayas, Target in Kahului; broccolini, Tamuras in Kahului and Lahaina; and watermelon, Times Supermarket in Kihei and Honokowai.

An extra emphasis was placed on row crops after the onset of the pandemic in order to provide more locally grown potatoes, onions and papaya.

“This shift allowed us to donate more than 60,000 pounds of produce to nonprofit organizations like Maui Food Bank, Hawaii Foodbank and Chef Hui that directly helped those in need,” Tsutsui said.

Another area of growth despite the pandemic was Mahi Pono’s staff. The company went from 150 employees at the start of 2020 to about 260 employees at the beginning of this year.

“As an essential business during the pandemic, we were fortunate to be able to continue farming, expand operations and hire more employees,” said Mark Vaught, vice president of farm development.

Vaught, Nakama and Tsutsui were promoted in 2020. Tsutsui succeeded Tim O’Laughlin, who relocated to California to focus on new initiatives for both Mahi Pono and Pomona Farming, a news release said.

When it cames to water in 2020, Nakama said Mahi Pono made “every effort to be efficient.”

In 2020 the company diverted an average of 22.7 million gallons per day from East Maui — below the state interim in-stream flow standards and half the allowable water allocation under the Alexander & Baldwin revocable permit, he added.

“The amount of water was the minimum needed to support our agricultural operations and to meet our obligations to the County of Maui for Upcountry residents and water users,” Nakama said.

Looking forward, he said the company will continue to divert only what is needed to meet crop and Maui County obligations.

For ‘generations to come’

Mahi Pono, a joint venture between a California farming company and a Canadian pension fund, acquired 41,000 acres of former sugar cane land and half of the East Maui Irrigation water delivery system from Alexander & Baldwin in late 2018.

Since the purchase, Mahi Pono officials have said they should be viewed separately from A&B, which has a controversial history of water use and sugar cane operations.

Still, Albert Perez, executive director and co-founder of environmental group Maui Tomorrow Foundation, said the future of the new company remains uncertain because A&B has a hand in its success due to A&B’s control of East Maui water rights.

He added that the foundation is working with regenerative farmers to provide Mahi Pono a list of suggestions that will boost soil fertility, reduce and eliminate the need for pesticides, minimize windblown dust and increase the water retaining capacity of the soil.

“However, we are hopeful that under the leadership of Maui native Shan Tsutsui, sustainable, value-added agriculture that provides local food security will truly be the goal,” said Perez, who recently toured the farm.

Tsutsui, the former Hawaii lieutenant governor, said his life has been dedicated to public service. He said he sees Mahi Pono, which provides student internships and nonprofit programs, as the next chapter of community outreach.

“For me, it has been rewarding to be able to be a part something that’s going to have a major, positive impact on our community for many generations to come,” he said. “Not only are we growing crops for consumption, but we are also ensuring that Central Maui will remain undeveloped and in agriculture well into the future.”

Tsutsui said that in its short time, Mahi Pono has been working tirelessly, especially during a pivotal pandemic year. This includes clearing the land, researching the best crops that would thrive in Central Maui’s soil and climate, investing in modern farming technology and equipment, planting and maintaining fields, and implementing a food processing system and distribution channels.

It also established relationships with distributors, wholesalers and chefs to get Maui Harvest produce into stores, restaurants and homes, he said.

But like all worthy endeavors, changing the course of history will take time, Tsutsui said.

“We still have a long a road ahead,” he said. “We really want the public to be patient and understand that this will take time, but we are committed to delivering quality, Maui-grown produce.”

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at



Crops already in the ground:

• Citrus: More than 1,800 acres. Along Haleakala, Maui Veterans and Kuihelani highways and Central Maui interior fields.

• Coffee: More than 150 acres. Right below Pukalani.

• Potato: More than 50 acres. In western fields between Maui Veterans and Kuihelani highways.

• Onions: More than 50 acres. In western fields between Maui Veterans and Kuihelani highways.

• Papaya: More than 20 acres. In Central Maui interior fields.

• Avocado: More than 10 acres. Near Maui Humane Society and Maui Veterans Highway.

Planting this year:

• 3,500 more acres of citrus.

• 150 more acres of coffee.

• Replanting onions and potatoes.

• 20 more acres of papaya.

An additional 20 acres to be planted in the Chef’s Corner project (in western fields between Maui Veterans and Kuihelani highways), which will serve as a test plot for potential new crops.

30 Years Without a Plan — Auditor Rips Agribusiness Development Corp.

Hawaii Free Press

Audit of the Agribusiness Development Corporation

Auditor’s Summary — Report No. 21-01 –

From Hawaii State Auditor, January 14, 2021 –

More than 25 years after its creation, we found an agency that is generally unaware of its unique powers and exemptions, and has done little – if anything – toward achieving its statutory purpose. From 1994 to 2012, the corporation managed two former plantation water systems on Kaua‘i and one on O‘ahu, supplying water to farmers but doing little else to develop new international, national, and local markets for Hawai‘i-grown products, to promote diversified agriculture across the state, or to develop an agriculture industry to replace the economic loss caused by the closure of the plantations.

THE HAWAI‘I STATE LEGISLATURE created the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) in 1994 amidst a series of sugar and pineapple plantation closures that lawmakers viewed as “an unprecedented opportunity for the conversion of agriculture into a dynamic growth industry.” Projecting that the downsizing of sugar and pineapple production would free up 75,000 acres of agricultural land and 50 million gallons of water daily over the next decade, the Legislature established ADC as a public corporation tasked with developing an “aggressive and dynamic” agribusiness development program to convert former plantation assets for use by new large-scale commercial enterprises producing the majority of their crops for export.

What we found

We found that ADC has done little – if anything – to facilitate the development of agricultural enterprises to replace the economic loss created by the demise of the sugar and pineapple industries. After almost 30 years, ADC has yet to develop an agribusiness plan – a plan required by statute – to define and establish goals, objectives, policies, and priority guidelines for its agribusiness development strategy or other short- and long-range strategic plans.

Instead of leading the State’s agricultural transformation, ADC primarily manages 4,257 acres of land it started acquiring in 2012 at the direction of the Legislature as well as the Waiāhole Water System on O‘ahu. Yet, we found that the corporation struggles to manage its lands, challenged by the myriad duties required for effective land management. For instance, a preferred anchor tenant had occupied ADC land for years without a formal, written agreement. We saw evidence of the tenant’s farming activity during an October 2019 site visit, roughly two weeks before ADC finally executed a license agreement with terms retroactive to 2016. That tenant also had provided services in exchange for rent credits, building reservoirs and paving roads used by other ADC tenants. But, ADC did not follow the state procurement process when authorizing the work nor did it document, monitor, or track the services, labor, or materials the tenant provided. In fact, the Executive Director acknowledged that ADC had opted to take the tenant’s “word” on the services provided, the costs incurred, and the materials used.

Finally, we found that ADC’s Board of Directors, as the head of the corporation, has provided minimal guidance and oversight of ADC’s operations. Rather than taking an active role in developing agribusiness policies, establishing short- and long-term strategic plans, and charting the corporation’s direction, the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson believe that the Board’s responsibility is to address whatever business is brought before it by the Executive Director. And, as a result of the Board’s abdication of its policy-making and oversight responsibilities, ADC has yet to provide the necessary leadership to facilitate the transition of agricultural lands and infrastructure from plantation operations into other agricultural enterprises that it was intended to provide after almost 30 years since its creation.

Why did these problems occur?

ADC – both its Board of Directors and its staff – does not understand the corporation’s overarching purpose, a mission that has remained unchanged since its creation in 1994 and is clearly stated in statute: ADC was established “as a public corporation to administer an aggressive and dynamic agribusiness development program” to replace the economic loss caused by the closure of Hawai‘i’s sugar and pineapple plantations. The Legislature intended the corporation “to facilitate the transition of agricultural infrastructure from plantation operations into other agricultural enterprises, to carry on the marketing analysis to direct agricultural industry evolution, and to provide leadership for the development, financing, improvement, or enhancement of agricultural enterprises.” And, ADC was granted powers and exemptions unique in Hawai‘i state government that afford the corporation unrivaled flexibility to bring former plantation lands back into production “in a timely manner.” However, as with its primary statutory mission, the corporation is generally unaware of those powers and how they can be used to develop a diversified agriculture industry for Hawai‘i.

ADC has failed to prepare a Hawai‘i agribusiness plan – which is required under Chapter 163D, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes – that would define and establish the goals, objectives, policies, and priority guidelines for the corporation’s agribusiness development strategy. The Executive Director thinks such a plan is unnecessary: “I have everything up here,” he said, pointing to his head. In lieu of a written strategic plan, short-term or long-term, ADC gave us a “project matrix” that looked like a to-do list of 85 tasks ranging from lawn mowing to acquiring property.

Limited participation from ADC’s Board of Directors compounds the corporation’s challenges. Board members receive no orientation or training and offer ADC’s management and staff little meaningful oversight or direction, primarily considering matters that the Executive Director chooses to bring before them or getting involved in day-to-day staff-level work. The Board has not set goals or performance measures for the Executive Director to fulfill and has not held him accountable for neglecting statutory requirements such as preparing the agribusiness plan or conducting market research.

We had difficulty pinpointing exactly why ADC struggles with managing the lands it has acquired since 2012, in part because the corporation’s recordkeeping and filing system are in disarray. Documents were piled under desks and kept wherever space allowed. Staff hastily assembled tenant files after we requested them, but the files they provided were disorganized and often missing important documents, such as board approvals, license agreements, and proof of insurance. When we requested documents we believed would be essential to the day-to-day operations of a corporation that manages land and properties – such things as land management policies, land acquisition guidelines, inventories of land holdings, tenant listings, and rent rolls – we were informed that the requested materials did not exist and would need to be assembled. ADC could not provide us with even baseline metrics of its land holdings and its management of those resources because they do not collect, track, and document such data. We had to create our own inventory of ADC’s lands and licenses issued for portions of larger parcels during the audit.

ADC also has not developed documented policies and procedures to guide its operations, which precluded us from assessing which, if any, part of a process may have failed. When we asked to review the corporation’s acquisition process, staff came up with a 10-step process on the spot, although, in practice, each of ADC’s purchases has been directed by the Legislature. The Executive Director told us that documented guidance would be “good to have” but he does not want to “get stuck with something in writing.” But operating without documentation, a formal plan or strategy, or board oversight, has resulted in a corporation that lacks a clear sense of direction and accountability.

Why do these problems matter?

The Legislature recognized the demise of Hawai‘i’s sugar and pineapple industry would create a significant loss to the state economy and had the foresight to identify the need for “aggressive and dynamic leadership” to develop an agricultural industry to fill that economic void. ADC was created to provide that leadership, to facilitate the development of Hawai‘i-based agricultural enterprises whose products are primarily for export, and to assist Hawai‘i-based agricultural enterprises with marketing and promotional strategies to exploit local, national, and international markets. ADC has not become the entity the Legislature envisioned – one that would develop an agriculture industry to stand as a pillar of the state economy, alongside tourism and the military. After nearly 30 years, the economic void created when plantations ceased production remains mostly unfilled.

The current pandemic has highlighted the necessity of having a diverse and well-balanced economy during difficult times. The spread of COVID-19 caused the State to restrict travel to Hawai‘i, virtually shuttering the tourism industry and disrupting the State’s economy. Large-scale agricultural enterprises whose crop productions are primarily for export would likely have lessened the economic blow while providing the State with greater food self-sustainability. The high cost the State has paid for ADC’s past inaction and its continued lack of direction, focus, and competence is immeasurable; the missed opportunities are unknowable. However, what is clear is that the State can no longer wait for ADC to figure out what it is, what it is supposed to do, and how it is supposed to do it.

READ: Full Report or Summary

Flashback Dec 19, 2019: State Agribusiness Dev Corp land a haven for criminal activity for years—ADC Spokesman: “We don’t want to do a sweep”

CB: Auditor: State Agriculture Agency Is Failing To Fulfill Mission

In the Marshall Islands, climate change is already influencing decisions to move

Yale Climate Connections

The low-lying island country in the Pacific is vulnerable to sea-level rise, freshwater shortages, and extreme heat.

n the middle of the Pacific Ocean – between Hawaii and Australia – lies the Republic of the Marshall Islands. The low-lying country is vulnerable to sea-level rise, freshwater shortages, and extreme heat.

In recent decades, many citizens have moved from the outer atolls to cities within the country, or abroad to the United States. Yet surprisingly few say they are motivated by climate change.

“The perception is that people are moving because of education, healthcare, and jobs – the traditional drivers of migration,” says Maxine Burkett, a professor of law at the University of Hawaii and a global fellow at the Wilson Center.

Her team dug deeper into migrants’ decisions and found that climate change did in fact play a role. She says many health and job concerns were linked to climate.

“As heat affects the agriculture output, as we see freshwater decreasing and making it more difficult to grow food, these sorts of things can be in the background and impact the decision-making that one will have regarding jobs and employment and well-being, generally speaking,” Burkett says.

So her research suggests that climate change is already influencing migration.