Cacao acreage planted in Hawaii has increased more than five fold since 2010, and additional increases are projected through 2020. Project PI’s, partners and collaborating producers will evaluate fertility and nutrient management practices used during cacao orchard establishment and share results with Hawaii’s growing number of small and newly established cacao operations. Scale-appropriate and locally-adapted fertility and nutrient management guidelines hold the potential to increase the success rate of cacao establishment by improving seedling growth, nutrition and precocity. Successful establishment will allow the best opportunity for Hawaii’s cacao industry to grow quickly and achieve adequate quality and quantity of harvest to capture economies of scale.
1. Evaluate economic costs and seedling growth benefits of site-specific fertility and nutrient management best practices during cacao orchard establishment.
- Summarize economic costs (ie. cost of soil testing, amendments and fertility additives) of cacao fertility and nutrient management with existing practices on participating producer farms.
- Establish on-farm trials with five participating producer farms in diverse geographic zones of cacao production on the islands of Oahu and Hawaii (aka Big Island).
- Assess the seedling growth benefits of fertility and nutrient management under three treatments: (1) pre-existing farm practice, (2) best practices for fertility and nutrient management with application protocol adapted to farm soil and environmental conditions (3) same as treatment two plus application of arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) inoculum.
- Conduct chemical soil evaluations
- Conduct agronomic and leaf tissue analysis
- Gather anecdotal feedback and observations from host farms
2. Share results with producers and other agricultural professionals.
- Employ online survey to gauge cacao farmer familiarity and usage of soil testing, leaf tissue analysis and site-specific nutrient management guidelines for cacao.
- Hold three field days to demonstrate effects of soil management on cacao establishment. Field days will be held at host sites, and will include presentations from the host farmer(s), two agricultural professionals on featured topic(s), and a tour or hands-on activity.
- Present initial findings at the 2019 Hawaii Chocolate and Cacao Conference, which is attended by 100 or more cacao and chocolate industry professionals.
- Publish a fact sheet and informational video.
- Disseminate resources, results and related information via social media networks and producer-to-producer networks.
As outlined in the project objectives.
Results from the documentation of existing establishment practices and associated costs are being collected and processed.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Consultation were conducted during site visits to three participating farms.
The primary outcome for 2017 has been site visits to cooperating farms to plan the launch of the trial for May, 2018, and document existing establishment practices. Contact has been made with the Hawaii Cacao and Chocolate Association so that trial results and field days can be promoted through their newsletter to membership.