Early on Saturday, October 23 a blue helicopter with large spray wings attached sprayed the edges of the canefields in Pa‘ia. There were strong and variable winds and the spray blew directly into many nearby residences. Pa‘ia houses emptied as families stepped outside to gawk in awe as the flying sprayer made pass after pass along the canefields at the edge of town.
Moon Over Haleakala inquired of HC&S as to what was being sprayed so close to homes, children and old people – and why?
A&B spokesperson Meredith Ching was kind enough to find out what was going on and to send the Moon a detailed account of the spraying that day. Her full account and a sample of scientific controversy surrounding 2,4-D is on page 14. Our photo gallery of the spraying, and the links to internet sites describing the ongoing controversy surrounding health risks and the approvals for such wide use of 2,4-D are available at our website, mauimoonnews.com.
Below is Moon Over Haleakala staffer Madeline Ziecker’s personal account of events that Saturday morning.
By A&B spokesperson Meredith Ching
This is my understanding of the situation you have inquired about. On October 23, HC&S conducted an aerial application of an herbicide, Clean Amine, on its Field 212, located along Hana Highway, just west of Paia town. We were attempting to eliminate a noxious weed, castor bean, from the field, as it shades out the crop and depresses sugar yields. Aerial herbicide application was required because the 16-month old cane is too dense to allow access for ground spraying, and the weed height exceeded the canopy of the cane.
The active ingredient in Clean Amine is 2,4-D, which is among the most widely used weed control chemicals in the world and is present in a number of substances labeled for residential use. For more information about 2,4-D, refer to http://www.24d.org. This product is labeled for aerial application, and applications were made in compliance with the pesticide label. The mix used on Field 212 was a very diluted formulation, consisting of about 2% of 2, 4-D by weight.
We fully appreciate that the helicopter’s presence was likely startling for the residents. By design, they fly very low when applying the agricultural substances, for the very reason of minimizing drift and applying the substances most directly on the plants. Further, with this type of application of Clean Amine, the substance is only released when directly over the targeted weeds (which are very visible above the cane).
Further, when HC&S undertakes aerial applications on its fields, we generally do so in the morning when wind speeds are lower and more predictable; gusts and variable winds typically occur later in the day. Wind characteristics are an important factor for aerial applications, and one that HC&S carefully considers prior to any application. A spotter goes along on all aerial applications, monitors and records wind speeds and directions, and watches for any visual signs of drift so that prompt action can be taken to address it.
Funny how things work out. Our new mayor wants to take over plantation water systems (although when he had a chance four years ago, he backed down).
A couple of years ago, a combination of drought and low prices had HC&S on the ropes, and the board at A&B was beginning to wonder whether sugar was a business they wanted to be in. At best, it accounts for only about 7% of revenue. HC&S is such a small part of A&B that it cannot ever contribute largely to profits, although it can — and recently has — hammered them down.
Since A&B answers to Wall Street, which does not give a damn about Upcountry water meters, low sugar prices open the way to a county takeover of EMI. This would be a disaster, but, like I say, funny how things work out.
Arakawa’s in, sugar prices are up, A&B will presumably stick with HC&S for a while longer, the valley will be green and Kihei will not have to live through endless dust storms.
Alexander & Baldwin Inc. tripled its third-quarter profit with greatly improved performances from its ocean transportation service in China and sugar business on Maui.
The Honolulu-based company reported today earning a net profit of $25.7 million, or 62 cents per diluted share of stock, in the July-September period, up from $8.5 million, or 21 cents per share, in the same period last year.
The big gain was largely from A&B’s ocean cargo subsidiary, Matson Navigation Co., which posted a 67 percent rise in operating profit to $40.4 million in the third quarter from $24.2 million a year earlier.
A&B said Matson’s performance was principally driven by higher volume and yields in its China service, which it expanded in mid-September.
Another contributor to the rise in profit was A&B’s Maui sugar subsidiary, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which benefited from higher sugar prices and production.
HC&S, along with Kauai Coffee Co., delivered an $800,000 operating profit for A&B, which represents a $13 million improvement from a $13.8 million operating loss in the 2009 third quarter.
Operating profits from real estate leasing and sales were lower for A&B.
Alexander & Baldwin Inc. has added to its Utah real estate holdings with the purchase of a neighborhood shopping center in Sandy, Utah, for $20.5 million.
The Honolulu-based company said the purchase through subsidiary A&B Properties Inc. was made with tax-deferred proceeds from recent real estate sales, and becomes the third commercial property owned by A&B in the greater Salt Lake City area.
Sandy is Utah’s fifth-largest city, and is about 17 miles from downtown Salt Lake City.
The shopping center named Little Cottonwood Center contains 141,600 square feet of leasable space that is 97 percent occupied and anchored by a local super market. Other tenants include McDonald’s, Starbucks and Texaco.
The 25-passenger van slammed into a deep trench. Rotarians and court reporters bounced out of their seats. The abused van’s windows rattled while keeping heat and dust at bay. A small air conditioner at the rear of the vehicle provided marginal cooling.
Driver Tony Vierra – one of only two men allowed to take Roberts Hawaii vans into the fields – tried to miss the biggest holes in the sugar fields’ “roads,” but there was no way to avoid them all. The benign jostling and, later, the heat in the mill were the most uncomfortable parts of a slick, six-hour Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. tour Saturday.
It began at 8 a.m. in a conference room in the old Puunene headquarters. Despite the hour, tour coordinator Linda Howe radiated city energy. She and agronomist Mae Nakahata had come over from Alexander & Baldwin’s Honolulu headquarters. Howe attended to the sign-in sheets, name tags, liability waivers and menus for lunch.
The Rotarians were from Kihei. The court reporters had come to Maui for a meeting of the Court Stenographers and Captioners Association. It was a convivial group sincerely interested in learning more about HC&S. One Mainland retiree liked to talk about his experiences as an employee at a sugar beet operation. It was somewhat annoying and definitely off the point of the tour – lobbying on behalf of the sugar company via candid education. The syllabus centered on sustainability and the production of energy.
WAILUKU – Sixty years ago, when Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. was drawing up the plans for Dream City, its managers foresaw the day when Kahului would extend to what was then called Waiale Pastures.
That time is still years off, but it is close enough that A&B Properties has filed a preparatory notice with the Land Use Commission in anticipation of an environmental impact statement for reclassification of 545 acres on either side of Waiko Road.
“This will be a yearslong process before we are able to do anything physically on the property,” A&B Properties Vice President Grant Chun said Wednesday.
The proposal calls for about 2,550 dwellings, with village mixed-use, commercial and light-industrial areas, a regional park, community center, neighborhood parks, sites for a cultural preserve, a school and related infrastructure. In other words, something similar to Maui Lani, which lies along the northern boundary of the new area.
The project extends in a rough triangle, with a long frontage on Kuihelani Highway. A&B does not own a section north of Waiko Road that is being rapidly developed for light industrial uses. Its plan would include another 16 or 17 acres of light industrial in the area.
Chun describes the area as mostly flat, sandy and never cultivated. Tenants are using much of the land for cattle.
Alexander & Baldwin Inc. said it earned $28.9 million, or 70 cents per share, in the second quarter.
President Stan Kuriyama called it “a strong second quarter” compared with the $12.6 million earned in the second quarter of 2009.
Revenue was $398.9 million, compared with $351.0 million for the year before.
On Maui, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. made a sharp rebound after a bad 2009, which had the A&B board of directors considering whether to continue in sugar.
For the first half – a more informative period for comparison than just the second quarter – operating profit in agribusiness (which includes Kauai Coffee) rose by $13.9 million and net profit edged into the black at $700,000. Agribusiness had lost a net $13.2 million in the first half of 2009.
HC&S shut down its mill for an unusually long refit and it reorganized its plantings, which have been affected by drought for several years. Operational improvements combined with better prices for raw sugar turned losses into profits.
For the January-June period, Maui Brand specialty sugar sales were down $2 million and molasses sales were down $1.3 million, but power sales were up $1.5 million. Coffee sales increased by $1.5 million as well.
The big gains came from raw sugar, whose output was 31 percent higher, primarily from better growing conditions.
Maui County today announced a settlement today of a dispute over an environmental impact statement for a proposed stream water treatment plant.
Mayor Charmaine Tavares said the county will “revisit” the study.
Maui Tomorrow and Hui o Na Wai `Eha filed a lawsuit in Maui Circuit Court on June 21, challenging the adequacy of the Waiale Treatment Facility’s study.
The two groups also appealed a decision by the state Commission on Water Resource Management to restore only about one-fifth of the total flow from four streams.
A decision on the appeal is expected to take years and could affect plans for the Waiale plant, so the county has decided to take another look at the proposed project, county officials said.
Hui o Na Wai `Eha President John Duey said his group was glad the county agreed to carefully examine the costs and benefits of the treatment facility.
A&B Properties Inc., which developed the study, said the firm will continue to support the county’s effort to find water for residents.