What fruit, and how much, is being locally grown? What fruit do growers want to plant in the near future? What do growers need to help them successfully produce fruit? These questions and more were asked in a recent survey conducted by the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG).
Funded by the County of Hawai‘i’s Department of Research and Development, the HTFG Survey of Tropical Fruit Growers collected data from HTFG member and non-member respondents from July through September, 2015.
“The purpose of the survey was to determine what actions to take and to fullfill grants to get fruit trees into the hands of growers to increase local production,” said Alyssa Cho, assistant researcher in sustainable farming systems with an emphasis in tropical fruit and nut production at University of Hawaii-Manoa.
Using Survey Monkey, the project found 88 percent of growers have planted citrus, followed by 83 percent cultivating avocado and 82 percent farming bananas. Other top fruit included mango, papaya and pineapple.
The survey’s 138 participants claimed a total of 42,955 planted fruit trees. Of these, 2,586 were citrus. Limes were the top type of citrus grown, at 81 percent, followed by lemons, oranges and tangerines.
Apple was the most popular banana variety with 88 percent of respondents claiming to grow them, followed by red bananas at 34 percent. Sharwil led the varieties of the 2,151 avocadoes grown followed by Yamagata and Kahaluu. Washington Navel and Valencia were the most planted types of oranges.
Top criteria used for selection of fruit trees grown on farms included cost of plant and time needed to produce crop, followed by disease resistance and value for home use. Respondents said they keep 52 percent of their crop for personal use and directly sell 30 percent to wholesalers, 24 percent at farmers markets and the rest at fruit and farm stands, retail stores and restaurants.
The “biggest barrier to planting more trees now” was lack of space according to 37 percent of respondents and not enough labor to care for trees said 24 percent. Labor was cited as the top area of assistance needed at 43 percent, followed by horticulture/production at 25 percent.
“Other specified areas of assistance requested included market access, tips for managing market over supply and pest management,” noted Mark Suiso, HTFG president who oversaw implementation of the survey.
When asked what exotic fruit trees were desired by growers in the next two years, nearly 50 percent of respondents listed fig and breadfruit, followed by dragonfruit, jackfruit, passionfruit, mangosteen, jaboticaba, pomegranate, cacao and durian.
“The results of the survey identify what trees growers want to plant over the next few years and what type of trees we should try to clone for our members,” detailed Ken Love, HTFG executive director. “It also tells HTFG what we should focus on for study and grant writing.”
Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers
Marking its 27th year, HTFG was incorporated in 1989 to promote tropical fruit grown in Hawaii. It is a statewide association of tropical fruit growers, packers, distributors and hobbyists dedicated to tropical fruit research, education, marketing and promotion; www.htfg.org.
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