No Chill Stone Fruit for Hawaii

Project Originality Description

 

This project proposes to identify and grow varieties of peaches and plums that require no soil chill time.

 

Farmers in Hawaii are often looking for unusual crops to further diversify their farms operation and achieve greater sustainability. Chefs in Hawaii are also looking for unusual fruit that they can both utilize in fruit baskets for guests as well as in culinary creations. The chefs also express a desire for locally grown stone fruit (peaches and plums).

 

Most stone fruit requires numerous hours of cold and a dormant period in order to produce. However, there are some varieties that have been found and previously identified by horticulturalists that will grow in tropical climates like the Kona coast of Hawaii.

 

Love Family Farms has three "Chuo Ume" plum trees, which we use in value added products and occasionally sell extra fruit at farmers markets. This is not enough to satisfy the demand by consumers and chefs. It is our belief that by giving trees to other growers we can help to build the market for this fruit.

 

There are some reports of tropical peaches located at other farms in the area and this project would enable us to obtain cuttings and airlayers from these trees for our farm and the project cooperators.  In addition to these cooperators we plan to provide trees to the University of Hawaii Experiment station, as it is our belief that the germplasm obtained through this project should be available to all growers in the area who wish it. Only the University of Hawaii can provide this service and protect germplasm for future generations.   We have learned through our WSARE funded "Choosing the Best Figs for Hawaii" (FW07-034) project that many cooperators wish to participate in this type of project. 

 

Once trees are obtained, they will be planted at Love Family Farms, Project cooperators farms and the University of Hawaii Experiment station in Kona Hawaii.

 

The existing plum trees at Love Family Farms, 12 Trees Project and GS farms will be used to measure yield data while young trees used to measure growth habits.  Little is known about the tropical Mysore peach trees in Hawaii. Growers we've talked to indicate their willingness to offer material to the project and let us measure yield from producing trees.

 

The project will research other plum and peach trees capable of growing in no chill environments. When possible, it will obtain germplasm of trees not grown in Kona.

Trees will be propagated and given to project cooperators. With airlayers and purchasing older trees, we should be able to get first fruit in 2 to 3 years. Additional fruit will be purchased from other growers where trees have been identified.

 

Fruit from the trees will be given to the American Culinary Federation Kona Kohala Chefs Association meeting for evaluation to determine culinary applications.

Fruit will also be given to the Hawaii Community College West Hawaii Culinary Arts Program so that student chefs become familiar with locally grown peaches and plums.

Historically in Hawaii tropical peaches have not been sold, as they have been a magnet for fruit flies. Plums have not been sold outside of farmers markets by Love Family Farms, as there is a very limited supply. Both of these fruits offer a great potential to growers to further diversify their crops and open new markets. Both fruits also lend themselves to value added product development in terms of jams, jellies and sauces.

 

The fruit fly problem can be managed by following the Hawaii Area Wide Fruit Fly Abatement Program and by utilizing protective fruit wrapping as outlined in a WSARE previously funded project from 2002.  This should help to insure sufficient quantity for chefs and student chefs to evaluate.

 

By increasing the number of trees with new project collaborators we believe a market could be developed for locally grown no chill peaches and plums.

 

The project is unique in that it brings together a number of cooperators who have agreed to work together to build a market for fruit that has previously had no commercial presence in Hawaii. It ties together, growers and the chefs looking for quality locally grown fruit. The project takes into account future chefs who will be in the position to purchase local fruit when trees are in full production. It also takes into account the potential of excess fruit by developing value added product concepts and recipes.

 

All of these add to the sustainability of small family farms in the Kona District.

 

 

 

No Chill Stone Fruit for Hawaii

 

Problem Statement

 

Where as most of Hawaii Island growing areas are considered tropical, plums and peaches have to be imported as they generally require a dormant period or chill time. Chefs who utilize the fruit continually ask for locally grown plums and peaches. Many chefs and growers are aware of a very limited number of  "backyard" plums and peaches that currently grow in Hawaii but are enjoyed by the owners of the trees and do not produce sufficient quantity to sell.

 

This project proposes to propagate and distribute these trees to producer/cooperators from the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers Association.  The project also intends to research additional varieties of plum and peach trees growing in other tropical locations, some of which have already been identified in general publications on tropical fruit. These trees will be purchased thought the project after the principal investigator obtains proper permits for importation to Hawaii.  The additional varieties will be propagated for distribution to growers.

 

There is a tremendous lack of locally grown stone fruit like plums and peaches, in Hawaii. This forces chefs, wholesalers and groceries to import the fruit from other locations outside of Hawaii. The lack of quality of imported fruit, that has to be picked very early to survive the trip to Hawaii, is evident in the stores. Questioning of produce managers by the PI revealed that more than 30% of the imported stone fruit has to be discarded. This is a burden to all, given the carbon footprint for importation and waste of rotten fruit from the imports.

 

Finding, growing and marketing of no-chill stone would help to eliminate the need for some importation and provide higher quality locally grown plums and peaches.

 

No Chill Stone Fruit for Hawaii

Relevance to Western SARE Goals

 

1. Promote good stewardship of the nationŐs natural resources by providing site-specific, regional profitable sustainable farming and ranching methods that strengthen agricultural competitiveness; satisfy human food and fiber needs; maintain and enhance the quality and productivity of soil; conserve soil, water, energy, natural resources fish and wildlife habitat; and maintain and improve the quality of surface and ground water.

 

Stone fruit is known worldwide but has little presence in Hawaii because of chill requirements for fruiting trees. However there are some varieties that originated in Southern India and Southern China that have fruited in Hawaii. This project proposes to propagate those trees and recently developed new no-chill varieties then distribute them to grower members of the Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers. As chefs and consumers have asked for locally grown plums and peaches, this project will work with the Chefs organization and culinary school to insure markets for the fruit. This adds to the sustainability of Kona's small working farms by developing locally grown plums and peaches as a niche market crop.

 

2.Enhance the quality of life of farmers and ranchers and ensure the viability of rural communities, for example, increasing income and employment, especially profitable self-employment and innovative marketing opportunities in agricultural and communities.

 

Having a new niche market crop of plums and peaches will increase income for small farmers who distribute crops to small restaurants and sell at farmers markets. Having choices for value added products with the locally grown plums and peaches will further help small family farms to increase income.

 

3. Protect the health and safety of involved in food and farm systems reducing, where feasible and practical, the use of toxic materials agricultural production, and by optimizing on-farm resources and integrating, where appropriate, biological cycles and controls.

 

Plums, peaches and other tropical fruit crops need little chemical fertilizers and respond positively to mulch and green manure.  They are fairly drought resistant. Growth of new shoots from extended roots helps to keep weeds around the trunk to a minimum and along with weed mat helps to eliminate the need for herbicides.

 

4. Promote crop, livestock and enterprise diversification.

 

Working with other growers to produce enough quantity of plums and peaches to satisfy markets helps all growers to see the advantage of greater crop diversification. Diversification by seasonal crops has been shown to be extremely successful for small farmers who followed the WSARE funded 12 Trees Project.

 

5.Examine the regional, economic, social and environmental implications of adopting sustainable agriculture practices and systems.

 

All of the project cooperators subscribe to sustainable agricultural practices. Most of them are certified or transitional organic growers. This project hopes that by showing the success of small niche market crops

other growers in the community will see the advantages of greater diversification for sustainable practices.