The Food Provider ~ September | October | November 2010

In This Issue


Aloha Kākou

Welcome to the Fall 2010 issue of HānaiʻAi, the sustainable agriculture newsletter of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. The mission of HānaiʻAi is to provide a venue for dissemination of science-based information to serve all of Hawaii's Farming Community in our quest for agricultural sustainability.

Twin Bridge Farm

We are excited about this issue! Our featured farmer segment highlights the successful transition of two former sugar workers into agricultural entrepreneurs. Drs. Radovich and Cox have joined together to discuss the costs of organic pesticides, and other familiar contributors cover soil health and other topics.  We also have some new contributors who are drawing attention to stewardship efforts that will make agriculture more sustainable.  The articles contributed by our CTAHR faculty are aimed at assisting agricultural producers.

We are also pleased to announce that Dr. Sylvia Yuen has been appointed the Interim Dean and Director of CTAHR and Dr. Carl Evensen has been appointed Interim Associate Dean and Director of Extension of CTAHR.

We hope you find this issue of HānaiʻAi useful, and welcome your input.


Status Report Sept. 2010

We are currently having one of the more severe epidemics of MMV. It is reported on all islands and can be a killer. MMV (‘maize mosaic virus’) is a serious dwarfing disease, originally called “maize stunt”. READ full announcement here.

Featured Farmers: Milton Agader and Aquilino Medrano
Twin Bridge, Waialua, Oʻahu


Area under production: 300 acres, with 1 acre organic and we plan to further expand organic production.

Years farming in Hawaii: 1994-2000, part time after leaving sugar and working full time with Dole’s diversified operation. 10 years full time.

Crops: asparagus, tomatoes, beans, peppers, okra, beans, lettuce, etc. Our organic crops are tomatoes and beans. Corn, sunflowers, and potatoes are contract grown. Asparagus production was initiated with a WSARE grant project with HARC.

Fertility management practices: commercial, synthetic, and OMRI listed pesticides; composting (20-30 tons) and cover crops (sunflower, oats, sunnhemp).

Pest Management: scouting, traps, commercial, synthetic and OMRI listed pesticides, compost and cover crops.

What Sustainability Means to You: Keeping 18 employees full time. Crop diversity, value adding, stewardship of the land, using only inputs needed and avoiding excess applications, financial security. Land tenure is a big issue. The State should trade or purchase land to provide long term leases at affordable rates.

How did the next generation successfully integrate into the family farm? My son has maintained interest by always having the farm here to come back to. Land tenure is a concern, whether he will have anything to come back to after his military service. Our lease is currently year to year.

How do you price your products? We look at the going rate, at the competition, talk to wholesalers, and negotiate with produce folks.

Where do you market your products? We set our prices based on quality and demand.  Fortunately, we have found a way to be on the upward end of both of these elements.  Our best nickel comes from our direct sales to customers.  We are constantly and pleasantly surprised when customers will give us $3.00 for an item when we are only asking $2.50.

How do you promote your products?  Through farm visits by buyers and by engaging customers at farmer markets (Waialua and Haleiwa). We are also frequently approached by media such as TV and Honolulu Magazine.

How do you adapt your production to meet the needs of clients?  Through our personal interaction with consumers at farmers markets and our willingness to try any suggestion from buyers.

Where do you market your products?  At open markets, to wholesalers, to Whole Foods, and to restaurants. The bulk of our sales go to wholesalers and to Whole Foods.

How many growers do you work with?  18 employees and we intend to expand.

What does the future look like for your farm? Strong. We maintain 300 acres and have opportunities to diversify crops and to include value adding through a year-to-year lease at a Certified kitchen.

Mahalo nui loa to Milton Agader for this interview.

Agader Ohana

Hot Tip from Twin Bridge

Diversify to survive. We are continuously looking for opportunities to diversify. It's hard to survive being one dimensional, especially employing 18 full time employees. 

PDF version of this article

Growing Your Business From the Field

Neem leaves

"Organic" Pesticides: What's the Cost?

Several approaches can be used to promote plant health. Pest pressure may result in the need for chemical intervention. This article presents information on products that are EPA registered and the per acre cost of one application for each one.
READ the full article here.

FMI: Linda Cox, email: lcox@hawaii.edu
FMI: Ted Radovich, email: theodore@hawaii.edu

Sustainable & Organic Research News

How the Varroa mite is changing the way we farm in Hawaii


Ethel Villalobos, UH-CTAHR, email: emv@hawaii.edu

While the Varroa mite weakens adult bees and their larvae by feeding on them, the greatest danger is that the mite is a vector in the transmission of viral pathogens. Preliminary research indicates that certain diseases are now widespread among Oahu’s honeybee colonies, since the Varroa mite was detected for the first time on Oahu in 2007. Control of Varroa mite levels is an absolute necessity, and determining what is a suitable Integrated Pest Management Strategy for this pest is one of the UH Honeybee Project main concerns. This article provides an overview of the work being done by the UH Honeybee Project.
READ the full article here.

What do you do with 829 tons of algae?

algae cleared by Malama Maunalua

Kimo Franklin, Mālama Maunalua, email: bkfisle@hawaii.rr.com

The Maunalua Bay Reef Restoration Project, otherwise known as “The Great Huki” is a project of The Nature Conservancy, Mālama Maunalua, and Pono Pacific. Over 800 tons of non-native algae have been cleared from Maunalua Bay as a result of the project. After it is removed, the algae is composted and used by commercial agricultural operations or community residents.
READ the full article here.

Evaluating Limu Compost as a Soil Amendment

Radish grown with composted algae

Ted Radovich (email: theodore@hawaii.edu) and
Nguyen Hue (email: nvhue@hawaii.edu), UH-CTAHR

UH-CTAHR, Mālama Maunalua and others are working together to determine the mineral nutrient content of alien algae species, to estimate acceptable loading rates for salts and metals from algal applications, and to optimize processing procedures for salt reduction and maximum nutrient content. Some preliminary nutrient analyses from Maunalua Bay limu species are presented.
READ the full article here.

Evaluation of Resistant Tomato Yellows Leaf Curl Virus Varieties

Tomato trials

Jari Sugano (email: SuganoJ@ctahr.hawaii.edu) and
Steve Fukuda (email: sfukuda@hawaii.edu), UH-CTAHR CES

Tomato is an important economical crop for many farmers on Oahu. Tomato yellows leaf curl virus (TYLCV) was first identified in tomato around November 2009. It can be devastating on susceptible tomato varieties/hybrids. Plants become chlorotic, stunted, leaflets cup upwards and flowers abort. This virus is very efficiently transmitted by the silver leaf whitefly and the sweet potato whitefly. Alternate hosts for the virus are solanaceous crops such as potato, pepper, eggplant, tobacco, etc. Common beans and weeds are also known to have harbored this virus. Usually alternate hosts do not exhibit any viruslike symptoms.

We have about 8 tolerant tomato hybrids (determinate and indeterminate) at the Poamoho Research Station. Early hybrids have been in harvest since July 15 and late producing hybrids are still in production. Data is still being tabulated.
READ the full article here.

Alleviating Soil Acidity with Crop Residues

Soil acidity experiment

Nguyen Hue, UH-CTAHR, email: nvhue@hawaii.edu

Soil acidity is a serious constraint for crop production in many regions of the world. Soil acidity is traditionally corrected by applications of lime, however larger applications of lime are costly, if lime is even available. This paper describes how crop residues may be used to alleviate the soil acidity, at least in the short term. The effectiveness of the soil organic amendments varied with residue type and mode of preparation (i.e., fresh or ashed). A combination of lime and organic materials is recommended as a cost effective alternative to improve soil fertility and yield.
READ the full article here.

Advice for Farmers growing New or Unfamiliar Crops

Plant disease

Scot Nelson, UH-CTAHR Plant Pathologist, email: snelson@hawaii.edu

Farmers often experiment with unfamiliar crops in order to identify those that have economic potential. This article outlines how producers can anticipate threats, prevent problems, diagnose problems correctly and manage diseases promptly in order to ensure that the outcomes of such experiments are more successful.
READ the full article here.

Native Wildlife Habitat and Farming: Yes, They are Compatible

Nene in taro loi

Gregory Koob, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, email: gregory.koob@hi.usda.gov

Farmers and ranchers can find, restore, or create some habitat for native animals by managing their land with this goal in mind. This article provides information, based on recommendations from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, for agricultural producers about how to be a better steward for native wildlife.
READ the full article here.

Earthworms in the Farm


Hector Valenzuela, UH-CTAHR, email: hector@hawaii.edu

Earthworms are increasingly being recognized as key “ecological engineers” because of their key role in improving soil fertility. They are also increasingly recognized as key indicators of sustainability and soil health on the farm. This article summarizes much of work that has been done on earthworms to date in Hawaii and other parts of the world.
READ the full article here.

Why do organic farmers need to keep good nematodes in their soil?


Koon-Hui Wang, UH-CTAHR, email: koonhui@hawaii.edu

Nematodes can disseminate microbial propagules throughout the soil, which advances the colonization of substrates and mineralization of nutrients. Nematode metabolites may also stimulate specific bacterial growth by releasing growth-limiting nutrients. This article presents research information about the benefits of free-living nematodes in soil nutrient cycling.
READ the full article here.

For more information about CTAHR's research, see our monthly CTAHR Research News Magazine.

Workshops | Conferences | Meetings

Master Gardener logo

: October 15, 16, & 17, 2010, UH Manoa Campus Center. Announcing the FIRST Annual University of Hawaii Master Gardener Statewide Conference, featuring specialized field trips, high quality educational sessions, networking opportunities & showcasing Hawaii’s most important gardening resource: the Statewide University of Hawaii Master Gardener program & Volunteers. Conference website: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/sustainag/MG/conference/



Problems with introduced wildlife damaging your crops, or interfering with your livestock? Participate in a survey to help wildlife managers incorporate your preferences into new wildlife management plans and decide which tools they should use to manage the rats, parrots, pigs etc. that may be affecting your livelihood. To receive a survey, contact Cheryl Lohr (PhD candidate, UH-CTAHR NREM) at (808) 956-2434 or email: cheryl26@hawaii.edu.

The website is up and alive! share this URL with any groups or individuals on your Islands that might want to become a seed saver or network with others who are. http://www.kohalacenter.org/publicseedinitiative/about.html

: Oct 6, 2010, 10:00 – 11:30 am. Send your RSVP soon to info@hiagtourism.org. Polycom locations will only be set up if there is a RSVP for that location, so please advise which location you will be going to. FMI: Lani Weigert, President, Hawai‘i AgriTourism Association, lani@hiagtourism.org, Cell (808) 283-3777.

USDA announced the launch of , a knowledge-based search engine. Visit Ask the Expert online today and view available information or submit an inquiry at http://www.usda.gov/askexpert.

2007-2010. Several new profiles are available for download (.pdf) at http://agroforestry.net/scps/ such as:

: According to the Kiplinger Agriculture Letter, the 2008 farm bill requires that price elections or estimated values be offered on all organic crops by 2013. An organic crop insurance program sponsored by USDA has made insurance available for organic crops for years. But since market data on organic products is often not available, conventional crop values plus a 5% premium has been used to value organic crops. Conventional crops often have values much lower than organic crops. The estimated value of organic corn, for example, would be 152% of those for conventional corn. The lack of organic sales data will make it difficult to get all the necessary estimated organic values by 2013.

: The first cultivar of Ohelo berry (Vaccinium reticulatum), called "Kilauea", has been released by USDA.

Funding Opportunities

Western Region Sustainable Agriculture and Education Program (WSARE)

WSARE logo

In 1996, Dr. Susan Schenck of the Hawaiian Agriculture Research Center (HARC) received a SARE Research and Education Grant to carry out her project, “Evaluation of a Perennial Vegetable, Asparagus, as a New Commercial Crop for Hawaiian Farmers.”  The cooperating farmer started with ½ acre in asparagus, and today he is our Featured Farmer, , now known statewide for his asparagus production.

Since 1988, the WSARE program has been supporting agricultural profitability, environmental integrity and community strength through grants that enable cutting-edge research and education to open windows on sustainability across the West, including Hawaii. The goals of WSARE are:

For more information, please see: https://wsare.usu.edu/ or contact Hawaii WSARE coordinator Dr. Ted Radovich at theodore@hawaii.edu.

This e-publication has been prepared by CTAHR research scientists and extension staff to deliver science-based information about sustainable and organic production systems to serve Hawaii's farming community.

Mahalo nui loa,

Dr. Linda Cox and Dr. Ted Radovich
Jody Smith, e-Extension Manager
Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program
Cooperative Extension Service
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources