Establishing Profitable Durian Crops in Hawaii

Final report for FW16-003

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $28,192.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Grant Recipient: Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Ken Love
Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers
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Project Information



At the start of this project we anticipated a fairly standard rate of progress and expansion of growth for the various durian varieties. There were and continues to be many unforeseen challenges that the PI and project participants did not anticipate. The most difficult start to the project was the loss of 4000 trees to USDA inspection. Even with permits in place, fungicide use and numerous checks by knowledgeable personnel, inspectors still found some pathogens which caused the trees to be destroyed. Plans for alternative packaging systems from USDA will help us to be successful with obtaining additional varieties in the first half of 2017.  Another problem has been to secure enough fruit. As the popularity of fruit has increased much faster than anticipated with a demand unable to be met by existing growers.  The cost of individual fruit has risen from an average of $30 per fruit to $50. per fruit. Growers are no longer are willing to sell wholesale.  The cost of seedling trees has gone from $25 to $65 while grafted trees are selling for $300.00 on Oahu and $150 on Hawaii island. The trees from the project are still selling for less than $3. in the Philippines and $.75 in India.  


For now, the project continues to graft and clone as many locally sourced trees as possible as well as plan to import again early 2017. Trees in stock are being slowly distributed as grafts on durian take longer and are notoriously difficult.

The focus of the project in early 2017 will be to obtain additional varieties, distribute to the additional locations (locations' already established) and focus on obtaining fruit from the next  harvest period in order to do taste tests.


December 2018

The focus of the project during 2018 was to clone  known cultivars of durian, especially Monthong which is considered the most popular, and distribute more than 1000 seedlings of various cultivars and species to Hawaiian growers.  In addition to providing trees for the HTFG repositories on each Hawaiian Island, more than 3000 seedling trees have been made available with close to 1000 being distributed to  about 800 members of Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) and Hawaii Farmers Union United members.  These will come into production in the next 10 years and contribute greatly to island sustainability. These include various species including Durio zibethinus Linn, Durio kutejensis, Durio oxleyanus  and  Durio graveolens which has proved to be more popular than expected, in part because of the fruits range of colors. About 70 grafted monthong durian were purchased by other members and expected to be in production in 5 to 8 years.  

Demand for fresh fruit continues to increase much faster than production. Farmers market prices average $50  for one Large size fruit or fruit other than D. zibethinus. The Largest fruit average about $75. although a report from Chinatown in Honolulu mentioned fruit up to $125. each. 

Although part of this project is to assess export potential, there just isn't enough  fruit to meet local markets. This will be tracked by HTFG as production increases minimally over the next few years and greatly within 10 years.  At the 2017 HTFG conference a speaker from Australia talked about trellises for Durian and a pruning regime that will supposed speed fruit production for both grafted and seedling trees.  These "tatura" trellises have been added to a number of farms on 4 Hawaii islands and this projected has supplied seedling trees for this experiment. 

The extension publication is currently in final revision at the university of Hawaii publications office and should be completed by the end of the year.  The text will be uploaded to this report.Durian-Extension-Ken-Love-2018-December-REP









Project Objectives:

Objectives/Performance Targets:

Objectives from original application:


Original Objective

Current state

Final Report Summary


Establish 12 varieties of durian trees on 5 islands with 6 collaborators.

9 varieties obtained and planted at "mother" location in Kona. Propagation for other varieties is underway. Cloning these 9 is also underway.

Continue cloning and distribution to  other islands.


Completed  2018

Determine which varieties are suited for Hawaii¹s different microclimates.

Polling of growers statewide has given some us some idea of best varieties in specific areas

Continuing polling and finding other durian growers.

We found growers of durian to be rather secretive due to high value and increasing ag theft primarily on Hawaii Island. Prelimary results show the mot popular cultivar as monthong, Musang King and  Red Prawn although the later two are produced in  much smaller numbers. At this time, any durian species or cultivar has  high value and that it does not matter in terms of sales which variety is being sold and consumed in local markets.

Purchase fruit for sensory evaluations and mainland shipping tests

much more difficult to purchase a quantity of fruit than anticipated. Even when trying to buy retail most growers want to control any sales or just enjoy themselves.

continue to find other growers and communicate with known growers to make evaluations possible.

The few sensory evaluations we could hold showed little preference for specific cultivars or varieties above those mentioned above. Local seedlings also received high marks.

Host durian taste test at 3 locations on Oahu, Kauai and Kona.

Locations have been set at Choice Mart in Kona and Whole Foods in Wailuku Maui and Honolulu.

It continues to be a problem to secure enough fruit of even one variety. Discussions with growers for the next season continues to be underway.

Evaluations were held at multiple big island locations, one on maui and one on Kauai. Production on Oahu was poor in 2018 and we wer not able to obtain  fruit to use. 

Determine cost of production and wholesale & retail pricing

Basic information gathered from various locations

continue to gather data  from other  growers and other locations.

Pricing ranges from 4.99 to 6.99 per pound at farmers markets where scales are used. Prices by individual fruit  ranged from $15.00 to $125 based on size and in some csaes  variety. Some red durian although much smaller sold for greater prices because of perceived taste rather than actual taste. Some purchasers  expressed regrets after tasting the red grapefruit sized fruit versus the larger, basketball sized, more common and sweeter monthong at the same price. 


Develop extension publication with marketing guide.

  complete with final draft uploaded

Continue to track growth patterns and gather data. 

This will be ongoing by HTFG as the market develops. 



Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • James Simoliciano


Research results and discussion:



Timeline status:


Original Objective

Current state

Final Report

Month 1

Establish project website

some sections have been added and mentioned on &

We are continually updating web sites where the durian project is featured. Final reports and  final extension publication will be uploaded on the University of Hawaii web site and web site. This is to be expected during the first quarter of 2019.

Month 2

Obtain bare rootstock trees for importation to Hawaii.

The loss of 4000 trees was a considerable setback for the overall project.

Nine varieties obtained singularly are planted out in kona and in the processed of being cloned. 

Over 1000 seedlings  and about 50 cloned monthong have been distributed. Musang King, red Prawn, and chanee cultivars  have been distributed to collaborators or waiting on distribution when grafts are stronger. 

Month 3

Six collaborators to establish 3 each of 12 varieties on 5 islands for a total of 360 trees.  Plant trees at 6 locations on 5 islands

The loss of these trees have caused a year long delay. So far we have 10 varieties planted at the "mother" location in kona and only 1 variety planted at 3 other locations.

The PI plans  to bring in groups of trees from India and Philippines. The USDA has suggested different  fungicides and packaging so there should no or very little loss of plan material. This should  happen  in April/May of 2017

The USDA changed the rules in 2017 so that all imports now require 2 years in a greenhouse  rather than being  quarantined in field locations. This was another setback for the project as we had to work and distribute seedlings rather than grafted trees. We were able to obtain seeds from four Durio species mentioned above. 


Month 4-20

Monitor growth rate of trees, Mulch, fertilizer and water, Discuss project at monthly  HTFG meetings

Each planted tree is monitored and discussions take place at monthly meetings. In some cases with other durian growers.

This project was discussed in  detail with durian experts at the 2017 HFTG 27th annual  conference and to a lesser extent in the 2018  conference. A total of about 600 growers received information at these conferences. In addition, a facebook page created by HTFG members after hearing the project reports, https://www.facebook.


discusses durian production in Hawaii. 


Month 18

Purchase ripe durian for sensory evaluations and hold tasting events on        Oahu, Kauai and Kona.

It has been difficult to find quantities and varieties to sample but we are trying to arrange for next  season


Working to obtain enough fruit for sampling. Store arranges have been made at 3 locations.

This changed to Hawaii island in Hilo and Kona, Maui and Kauai. The amount of fruit was limited due to climatic factors and unexpected elevated prices growers received for entire harvests.

Month 20

Discuss project at Annual HTFG conference

The project has been discussed at the annual conference and wil be discussed at the 2017 conference

Durian experts from Malaysia and Australia spoke at the HTFG  2017 conference in Hilo and further reports were presented by the PI and a speaker from California at the 2018 conference. 

Month 21

Update websites

Write Extension publication


continue as planed

Extension publication uploaded  above  is currently in final revision at the University of Hawaii. 

Month 22

Hold outreach meetings for each HTFG chapter on each island travel

continue as planed

Durian is always a topic of conversation at all HTFG meetings. Hard copies of the  Durian extension publication will be made available  to each HTFG Chapter and through extension offices. Discussions  and data gathering ill continue long after the end of the project. 

Month 23-24

Final report                             continue as planed                             completed  12-2018



Participation Summary
318 Producers participating in research

Research Outcomes

No research outcomes

Education and Outreach

220 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
7 On-farm demonstrations
1 Online trainings
7 Tours
6 Webinars / talks / presentations
7 Workshop field days
2 Other educational activities

Participation Summary:

500 Farmers participated
52 Ag professionals participated
Education and outreach methods and analyses:

The primary outreach was at the 27th annual Hawaii International Fruit Growers Conference held in Hilo in Sept 2017 with 150 attendees. Additional mini conferences were held in Kona, Maui, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai islands with Durian specialist Lindsay Gasik AUstralian durian growers Peter Sellaras. Additional workshops on managing and trellising durian trees were held in Kauai, Molokai, Maui, Oahu, Hilo and Kona  

HTFG's 28th annual conference  was held Sept. 2018 with  featured speakers from California, Peter Sallaraes and Oahu durian grower and Grafter Frank Sekiya.

Monthly meetings on each island also feature discussions on growing durian.

monthly or bi-monthly meetings continue on each island with  durian project updates.



20 Farmers intend/plan to change their practice(s)
20 Farmers changed or adopted a practice

Education and Outreach Outcomes

163 Producers reported gaining knowledge, attitude, skills and/or awareness as a result of the project
Key changes:
  • Knowledge of dryness needed to induce flowering.

  • Possibility of faster fruiting by trellising durian trees

  • Ability to ship outside of Hawaii without blackage from USDA APHIS

  • Greater knowledge of species and cultivars of Durio available in Hawaii.

  • worldwide marketing systems from the 2017 HTFG Conference

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.