Establishing Profitable Durian Crops in Hawaii

Project Overview

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

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: general tree fruits


  • Crop Production: irrigation, organic fertilizers
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, market study, value added
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, new business opportunities, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration

    Proposal summary:


    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 from proposal:

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

    Determine which varieties are suited for Hawaii¹s different microclimates.

    Purchase fruit for sensory evaluations and mainland shipping tests

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

    Determine cost of production and wholesale & retail pricing

    Develop extension publication with marketing guide.

    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.