Last Friday’s daylong meeting of the State Land Use Commission, to rule on a petition by mega-developer D.R. Horton-Schuler to change the current zoning on 1,500 acres of prime ‘Ewa farmland from agriculture to mixed-use residential and commercial, was anything but boring.
Here’s Kioni Dudley, intervenor in the case, whom some have called the leader of the opposition: “In the beginning, over two years ago, this was just a gut feeling I had.” Now, it is more than a feeling, as Mr. Dudley–and everyone else with a sore gut over the proposed zone change–has picked up some unexpected allies, in the form of at least three State agencies and several local politicians.
Listen to Bryan Yee of the Attorney General’s office, speaking for the State Office of Planning: “We now know that if the petition [for the zoning change] goes through, H-I will be a parking lot from Waiawa to Makakilo. And the petitioner (Schuler) isn’t proposing any solutions.”
“HAWAII SUGARCANE” reports are available on our website and also PRINTED monthly from August through December. Subscriptions for PRINTED copies are free to those persons who report agricultural data to NASS (upon request) and available for $2 per year to all others.
Production of sugarcane for sugar and seed is forecast at 29.1 million tons, up 5 percent from last year. Expected production increases in Florida and Texas more than offset the expected decreases in Hawaii and Louisiana. Producers intend to harvest 862,700 acres for sugar and seed during the 2009 crop season, up 8,700 acres from the June Acreage report but down 5,300 acres from last year. Expected yield is forecast at 33.7 tons per acre, up 1.9 tons from 2008.
Sometimes you need a little help from a friend — even if that friend is also a competitor.
Monsanto (NYSE: MON) and Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW) certainly couldn’t have developed a seed with such blockbuster potential so quickly without each others’ help. The two announced yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) had completed the authorization process for their SmartStax seed, which combines eight different traits into one corn seed.
The eight combined traits will increase yields by 2% to 4% compared to the triple-stacked standard, but the biggest advantage to farmers will come from changes by the government.
Farmers are required to plant a certain percent of their acreage with seeds that don’t have insect resistance — it’s called a refuge, but "sacrificial lamb" might be more appropriate. The point of the refuge is to avoid selecting for insects that are resistant to the trait. Since SmartStax contains multiple disease-resistant traits, it’s less likely that insects will become resistant, so farmers will be able to decrease the required refuge from 20% to 5% in the corn belt and from 50% to 20% in the cotton belt. Increasing the acreage planted with higher-yielding disease-resistant corn should boost the farm’s yield by an additional 3% to 6%, for a total potential increase of 5% to 10%.
Monsanto and Dow will market the seed under their own brand names and pay royalties to each other for the shared traits. The friendly competition should make for an interesting rivalry, but in any case the new seed, which should launch next year, should compete well against rivals Syngenta (NYSE: SYT) and DuPont (NYSE: DD). In fact, the companies are planning to make it the largest biotech corn seed launch ever.
Who knows — maybe they’ll send the first ears to Joe Cocker.
“HAWAII MACADAMIA NUTS” reports are available on our website and also PRINTED twice a year. Subscriptions for PRINTED copies are free to those persons who report agricultural data to NASS (upon request) and available for $2 per year to all others.
Utilized production from Hawaii’s 2008-09 macadamia nut harvest is estimated at 50.0 million pounds (net, wet-in-shell basis) according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Hawaii Field Office. The estimate for 2008-09 represents a 9.0 million pound or 22 percent increase from last season.
Timely showers and an increased demand for inshell nuts contributed to this season’s higher output. Processors noted some improvement in the quality of nuts delivered this season. On the other hand, growers did report the prolonged dry conditions, pests, pigs, and volcanic haze adversely affected orchards and harvesting. Others mentioned it was economically unfeasible to pick their crop and may switch to other commodities or temporarily stop farming.
Harvested Acreage Unchanged, Yields Up
For the 2008-09 season, growers harvested an estimated 15,000 acres and remained unchanged for the past three seasons. Statewide, there were 17,000 acres in crop and an estimated 1.2 million macadamia nut trees.
Yields averaged 3,330 pounds per acre (net, wet-inshell basis) for the 2008-09 season, or 600 pounds more per acre than the previous season. Average moisture content for this season’s entire crop was 20.5 percent compared with 21.3 percent for the 2007-08 crop.
Farm Value Increases
The farm price for macadamia nuts averaged 67.0 cents per pound (net, wet-in-shell basis) for 2008-09 season, up 7.0 cents from the 2007-08 average. Farm value is estimated at $33.5 million (net, wet-in-shell basis) for this crop season, a 36 percent increase from last season due to a larger harvest and higher farm price.
Hawaii avocado production is estimated at 1.0 million pounds for the 2008/09 season, down 14 percent from the previous season. A 6 percent decline in harvested acreage to 330 acres and a 9 percent drop in average yields to 3,000 pounds per acre contributed to the overall lower harvest.
Avocado growers noted that uneven rains and the overall dry weather were major factors for the lowering yields during the 2008/09 season.
Farm price reaches record high
Hawaii avocado growers received an average a record high 73.0 cents per pound for the 2008 harvest, 7 percent higher than the previous season’s average farm price of 68.0 cents per pound.
California’s harvest lowest since 1979/80 season
California, which produces almost 78 percent of the U.S. total, suffered its lowest avocado harvest in 29 seasons (see next page). California’s 2008/09 harvest was hurt by record high heat last June which damaged the fruit that was beginning to mature on trees. Average farm prices, however, rose to a sixseason high of $2,000 per ton.
How many of us haven’t at some time entertained the idea (except those who have already done so!) of running off to Kauai, buying a few acres, and “living off the land”. A potent fantasy indeed, and for the past several years, one realized only by those with considerably deep pockets – vacant agricultural land on Kauai has recently ranged from $100,000 to well over $300,000 per acre (depending on location, views, caliber of neighborhood, etc…); land with a house already on it, obviously, even more.
The recent economic travails, however, are certainly doing their part to bring farming on Kauai back from the realm of fantasy into something verging on do-able for a lot more of us. And as well, these travails are providing motivation – more and more of us just want to chuck everything and revert to a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle.
Acreage on the Big Island has always been more affordable – for one thing, there’s a whole lot more of it; for another, it comes with active lava zones, limited infrastructure, long travel distances, etc… Kauai is like a precious green jewel-box in comparison – much smaller, more accessible, more groomed. The soil is older, the distances smaller, the beaches closer. And it has been much, much more expensive.
Please visit the website for more information: http://www.nass.usda.gov/hi/
USDA NASS Hawaii Field Office
1421 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814-2512
1-800- 804-9514 February 3, 2008
“HAWAII CROP WEATHER” reports are available on our website and also PRINTED weekly. Subscriptions for PRINTED copies are free to those persons who report agricultural data to NASS, upon request and available for $20 per year to all others.
On the Big Island, mostly cloudy and rain-filled days slowed growth and fruit development during the week. The reduced sunlight also kept temperatures on the cool side. Incidences of Banana Bunchy Top virus remain isolated in the Puna and Kona areas. Overall, orchards in eastern sections of Hawaii County were in generally good condition. Oahu?s banana orchards were in fair condition. Fields in the leeward and central areas of Oahu made fair to good progress. Windward Oahu fields were in fair condition as cloudy conditions and cooler temperatures continued to slow crop progress and reduce yields. Kauai?s orchards were in fair condition. Harvesting was anticipated to remain steady during the coming weeks. Stripped leaves, as well as cooler temperatures and overcast skies, continued to slow crop development and fruit ripening.
Cool, wet conditions slowed orchard growth and fruit development on the Big Island. Orchards in the Puna district remained in fair to good condition. New seedlings established quickly with the high rainfall. Active flowering was evident in most fields, but the heavy rains made fieldwork difficult. Spraying will have to be maintained once the weather clears. Orchards on Oahu were in fair to poor condition. Spraying to control disease and insect infestations remained steady. Kauai?s orchards made fair progress during the week. Acreage for harvest is relatively small, and overall pickings are forecast to remain light. Spraying for disease control was delayed because of inclement weather conditions.
The Hawaii Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates the value of Hawaii=s seed industry at a record high $97.6 million for the 2006/07 season. This preliminary estimate represents a 26-percent increase from 2005/06?s revised estimate of $77.3 million. Seed corn is expected to account for $94.0 million, or 96 percent, of the total value in 2006/07. A variety of other seed crops will account for the remaining 4 percent. Outshipments of seed are anticipated to total a record high 9.0 million pounds during the 2006/07 season, up 19 percent from the 7.6 million pounds shipped during the 2005/06 season. Acreage harvested for all seed crops is expected to total a record high 4,820 acres during the 2006/07 season, up 16 percent from the 2005/06 season.
Production of sugarcane for sugar and seed in 2007 is forecast at 30.4 million tons, down 4 percent from the August forecast but up 3 percent from 2006. Sugarcane growers intend to harvest 883,500 acres for sugar and seed during the 2007 crop year, down 9,500 acres from the August forecast and 14,600 acres less than last year. Yield is forecast at 34.4 tons per acre, down 0.9 ton from last month but up 1.5 tons from last year. Production is down in Florida and Louisiana from the August forecast due to lower expected yields in Florida and lower expected harvested acres in Louisiana.
Production is forecast at 30.1 million tons, 1 percent above the August forecast but 12 percent below last year?s production of 34.1 million tons. Growers expect to harvest 1.24 million acres, unchanged from the August forecast but down 5 percent from last year. The yield is forecast at 24.2 tons per acre, up 0.2 ton from last month but down 1.9 tons from the 2006 record high yield. Yields are at or below last year?s level in all States except Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.