For the Love of Mangos

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Hawaii International Fruit Grower Conference

Sun, Sep 26, 2010 at 03:09:52 PM

There were about 200 in attendance at this meeting and Dr. Diane Ragone, the Director of Breadfruit Institute started with an informative presentation about breadfruit. She is working with chefs to develop potential value-added products. Breadfruit has a good potential as flour for human and animal consumption and perhaps for baby food. 

They are working on different projects for to alleviate world hunger using breadfruit as a food crop. They started a project in Honduras using their first in-vitro plants. They also are trying to get funded for a project in Haiti. They started a pilot program and recently sent 50 plants to plant 4 acres with breadfruit. 

The Breadfruit Institute has the largest breadfruit collection in the world with 270 trees and 120 varieties. We will visit their collection as part of the field trip tomorrow morning. 

After Diane's presentation we had a fruit panel discussion which showed me that sustainable horticulture seems to be the way Hawaiian growers want to follow. Politics have to be addressed including price of land, regulations and importation of other products to the island that make it impossible to compete. The price of oil and cost of fertilizers are making many growers think seriously about organic techniques, where these costs can be minimized. 

Eating local has been the rallying cry in Hawaii for some time and it is this movement that keeps this association strong. They think that by providing fresh products and good quality fruits they can have viable alternatives for the islands. Novel and value-added products have to be part of the business model on a small and large scale. Sustainability doesn’t happen in one day and they encourage working together to make it happen. 

After the panel discussion, the Agriculture Research Service (USDA) presented updates about guava mitigation requirements for shipping to the mainland. Irradiation and protocols are required. This severely limits the small scale growers.  

Tracie Matsumoto presented an update on lychee management including pruning and foliar fertilization to synchronize lychee flowering in different locations on the island. She presented historical observations and records of the temperature and rainfall patterns related to different stages of development of the fruit as a way of looking for strategies to improve the crops. 

Longan growing using potassium chlorate and recommendations were part of the updates as well as suitable longan cultivars for the island. ‘Biew Kiew’ and ‘Egami’ were recommended. 

Marisa Wall presented some avocado updates moving towards replacing imports with local introductions and selections. ‘Sharwil’, ‘Linda’, and ‘Local Hass’ were evaluated. Local avocados contribute just 30% of total demand in Hawaii. They are working with the cultivars presently in the islands. They want excellent quality and market appeal for the local market. 

The Germplasm Repository (USDA) at Chapman Field, Miami, moved the Florida avocado collection to Hawaii to protect it against Laurel wilt disease. They have the trees in quarantine and under observation. They will be planted in 6 months if they pass quaranine. 

They also presented a talk on a native Hawaiian berry which is good for juices and jellies as an alternative for sustainable fruit production in Hawaii. At the end of the afternoon they had updates on papaya and dragon fruit. 

In the afternoon, two local chefs and growers discussed alternatives to promoting their products in a panel discussion. Communication between the different parties is important and chefs have to know the products available to be able to prepare and promote their final product. Chefs see local greens as a good image booster for their public. Heart of palms also has had a good impact on the culinary industry. Being novel is the key. 

I closed the afternoon with my final presentation about growing and marketing specialty crops using the Florida model. Mango, jackfruit, canistel, sapodilla are the fruit with the biggest impact in our program. I generated a lot of interest in our genetic collection and business model. 

After the wrap up, a small group visited a mango orchard in Moloaa. Marta Nhitlock and her husband invited us to their farm. Moloaa Organica’a farm has 23 acres, which is pretty big in Hawaiian terms. Their best mango is ‘Rapoza’ as they feel that Hawaiians like red and large mangos. They are looking for other alternatives for the late season. They are trying other mango cultivars in their farm. ‘Golden Glow’, ‘Fairchild’, ‘Cac’, ‘Julie’, ‘Ice cream, ‘Zill’ and ‘Brooks’ are all planted as alternatives. 

They want me to see their mangos and advise them on pruning. As it was getting dark we pruned a tree as a demonstration and ran to join the rest of the group for dinner and the auction. 

The auction was very entertaining, with books, fruits, and horticulture items auctioned including some of Fairchild publications to support the association. 

Tomorrow we have to be ready for the field tour which will be the end of my trip.


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