Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Aloha! There are 22 SDARL alumni on this year's trip to Hawaii and the tour started off with a bright sunny day.
Monday started off with a visit with Ken Kakesako, Deputy to the Chairperson of the State Board of Agriculture and Diane Ley, Farm Service Agency. The two described agriculture in Hawaii. Seed production is the number one ag product in Hawaii with sugar listed as No. 2 and pineapple No. 3. The seed industry provides 30 %  of the total value of all Hawaii based crops.
The plantation crop production of sugar and pineapples captured less than 20 percent of the state's agriculture market and diversified agriculture has expanded.

We visited the Hawaii Research Center and met with Stephanie Whalen and her crew. They shared areas of research, including work with papaya. Stevie explained the changes in the area due to the large pineapple plantations moving out of the state. There are now ag parks set up and she explained the areas that her staff uses. 

Larry Jefts is one of the state's largest vegetable and melon producers. The group was fascinated to learn about bananas and the work done to grow them. Every seven days, the flowers are trimmed from the plants. The trees can grow to be 10 years old and then the plants are bulldozed and tilled back into the ground.  The company was also picking and packing tomatoes. His produce is sold only in the state of Hawaii. Jefts described the inspection process including the social audits conducted by stores purchasing his products. He said his secret weapon to his success is the woman that he's been married to for 50 years. 

Located in facilities formerly  owned by the Dole plantation, Michael Kohn is the president of commercial Irradiator business we toured. He showed the process works and talked about how they were able to come up with the plan for the business. The process uses colbalt 60 and the glow could be seen when looking into the steel lined  tank. It is most popular as a photo-sanitary process as it doesn't apply heat or cold or gas to the products. They only thing it doesn't work is on an avocado. The system went online in 2012 after numberous regulatory criteria were met. 

The last stop of the day was at the Pioneer Research facility. Mark Stoutemeyer described some of the work being done at Pioneer and the double haploids. He also showed the group the shade house and described the procudre used to produce new hybrids. 

Throughout the day, many of the speakers spoke of GMOS and the recently passed legislation and how it will affect the area that they work into