No Chill StoneFruit for Hawaii

ProjectOriginality Description

 

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

 

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

 

Most stone fruit requires numerous hours of cold and adormant period in order to produce. However, there are some varieties that havebeen found and previously identified by horticulturalists that will grow intropical 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 atfarmers markets. This is not enough to satisfy the demand by consumers andchefs. It is our belief that by giving trees to other growers we can help tobuild the market for this fruit.

 

There are some reports of tropical peaches located at otherfarms in the area and this project would enable us to obtain cuttings andairlayers from these trees for our farm and the project cooperators.  In addition to these cooperators weplan to provide trees to the University of Hawaii Experiment station, as it isour belief that the germplasm obtained through this project should be availableto all growers in the area who wish it. Only the University of Hawaii canprovide this service and protect germplasm for future generations.   We have learned through our WSAREfunded "Choosing the Best Figs for Hawaii" (FW07-034) project thatmany cooperators wish to participate in this type of project. 

 

Once trees are obtained, they will be planted at Love FamilyFarms, Project cooperators farms and the University of Hawaii Experimentstation in Kona Hawaii.

 

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

 

The project will research other plum and peach trees capableof growing in no chill environments. When possible, it will obtain germplasm oftrees 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 fruitin 2 to 3 years. Additional fruit will be purchased from other growers wheretrees have been identified.

 

Fruit from the trees will be given to the American CulinaryFederation Kona Kohala Chefs Association meeting for evaluation to determineculinary applications.

Fruit will also be given to the Hawaii Community CollegeWest Hawaii Culinary Arts Program so that student chefs become familiar withlocally 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 offarmers markets by Love Family Farms, as there is a very limited supply. Bothof these fruits offer a great potential to growers to further diversify theircrops and open new markets. Both fruits also lend themselves to value addedproduct development in terms of jams, jellies and sauces.

 

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

 

By increasing the number of trees with new projectcollaborators we believe a market could be developed for locally grown no chillpeaches and plums.

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

No Chill StoneFruit for Hawaii

 

Problem Statement

 

Where as most of Hawaii Island growing areas are consideredtropical, plums and peaches have to be imported as they generally require adormant period or chill time. Chefs who utilize the fruit continually ask forlocally grown plums and peaches. Many chefs and growers are aware of a verylimited number of "backyard" plums and peaches that currently grow in Hawaii butare enjoyed by the owners of the trees and do not produce sufficient quantityto sell.

 

This project proposes to propagate and distribute these treesto producer/cooperators from the Hawaii Tropical Fruit GrowersAssociation.  The project alsointends to research additional varieties of plum and peach trees growing inother tropical locations, some of which have already been identified in generalpublications on tropical fruit. These trees will be purchased thought theproject after the principal investigator obtains proper permits for importationto Hawaii.  The additionalvarieties will be propagated for distribution to growers.

 

There is a tremendous lack of locally grown stone fruit likeplums and peaches, in Hawaii. This forces chefs, wholesalers and groceries toimport the fruit from other locations outside of Hawaii. The lack of quality ofimported 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 revealedthat more than 30% of the imported stone fruit has to be discarded. This is aburden to all, given the carbon footprint for importation and waste of rottenfruit from the imports.

 

Finding, growing and marketing of no-chill stone would helpto eliminate the need for some importation and provide higher quality locallygrown plums and peaches.

 

No Chill StoneFruit for Hawaii

Relevance to Western SARE Goals

 

1.Promote good stewardship of the nationŐs natural resources by providingsite-specific, regional profitable sustainable farming and ranching methodsthat strengthen agricultural competitiveness; satisfy human food and fiberneeds; maintain and enhance the quality and productivity of soil; conservesoil, water, energy, natural resources fish and wildlife habitat; and maintainand improve the quality of surface and ground water.

 

Stonefruit is known worldwide but has little presence in Hawaii because of chillrequirements for fruiting trees. However there are some varieties thatoriginated in Southern India and Southern China that have fruited in Hawaii.This project proposes to propagate those trees and recently developed newno-chill varieties then distribute them to grower members of the HawaiiTropical Fruit Growers. As chefs and consumers have asked for locally grownplums and peaches, this project will work with the Chefs organization andculinary school to insure markets for the fruit. This adds to thesustainability of Kona's small working farms by developing locally grown plumsand peaches as a niche market crop.

 

2.Enhancethe quality of life of farmers and ranchers and ensure the viability of ruralcommunities, for example, increasing income and employment, especiallyprofitable self-employment and innovative marketing opportunities inagricultural and communities.

 

Havinga new niche market crop of plums and peaches will increase income for smallfarmers who distribute crops to small restaurants and sell at farmers markets.Having choices for value added products with the locally grown plums andpeaches 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 agriculturalproduction, and by optimizing on-farm resources and integrating, whereappropriate, biological cycles and controls.

 

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

 

4.Promote crop, livestock and enterprise diversification.

 

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

 

5.Examinethe regional, economic, social and environmental implications of adoptingsustainable agriculture practices and systems.

 

All of the projectcooperators subscribe to sustainable agricultural practices. Most of them arecertified or transitional organic growers. This project hopes that by showingthe success of small niche market crops

other growers in thecommunity will see the advantages of greater diversification for sustainablepractices.