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Field Tour 20th Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Grower

Monday, October 4, 2010

Field Tour 20th Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Grower

By Noris Ledesma

September 26, 2010

We depared from the hotel in the early morning to the National Tropical Botanic Garden located in the Lawa`i Valley, on the south shore of of Kaua`i. It is a garden paradise, transformed through time by the hands of a Hawaiian Queen, a sugar plantation magnate and most significantly by an artist and an architect. The endless topography display a large canopy of rainforest trees with tall curving roots growing near bronze mermaids, a grove of swaying golden bamboo, a cut-flower garden and tropical fruit trees.

Dr. Diane Ragone, the Director of the Breadfruit Institute, gave us a tour of the bread fruit collection. We were shown selected accessions that will be propagate using in vitro. The majority are seedless, good to eat ripe or green. There were many different shapes of fruit and leaves.

Diane opened one of the mature fruit for tasting and described her favorite way to eat it.  "I don’t like to bake it. Instead I boil it with little water, salt, garlic and coconut milk. It's delicious!", she said. 


Our tour took us next to a river under the shade of some big breadfruit and papyrus plants. The garden has been open to the public since 1971, and they have a small tropical fruit collection that includes caimito, lychee and some mangos. ‘Mami K’; ‘Carrie’, ‘Nam Doc Mai’, ‘Julie’ and ‘Edward’ mangos are found in the greates numbers in their collection.

Other native plant collections are displayed as well including rare and endangered species that are on the verge of extinction in the wild such as Pritchardia limahuliensis,  loulu, a native fan palm in the Palm family, found only in Limahuli Valley; Brighamia insignis,  alula, a member of the Campanulaceae, or Bell Flower family.

We ended the day visiting the nursery at the National Tropical Botanic Garden, where conservationists and restoration biologists are working to preserve species native to this habitat. The facilities are also used as a Plant Rescue Center.

We had lunch at the Kauai Nursery where Lelan Nishek the owner of the company made his presentation. His nursery was rebuilt three times due to damage by hurricanes.  Kauai Nursery and Landscaping has been in business on the Island of Kauai for over 30 years. Throughout the years, the company has grown from a small nursery to a large-scale operation, which now sits on a 70-acre site. Rapid development of the Hawaiian Islands brought jobs on the islands of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui and Lanai. After hurricane Iniki, which struck Kauai in 1992, there was a concentrated effors towards the rebuilding of the nursery and the island. Since that time the island of Kauai has continued to grow and KNL has been fortunate to be involved in many great projects.  They have an impressive operation with over 130 employees. 

Milan Rupert the manager of the nursery showed me the mango trees they use as mother plants for propagation and suggested that I use them for a pruning demo for the group.

The Hawaii International Tropical Fruit Grower meeting was a great experience; I had the opportunity to learn what is happening in the horticulture business of the state of Hawaii, get to know the people of Hawaii and learn their  culture. I want to thank everyone involved for the opportunity, especially Ken Love and the association committee for the initial invitation.


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