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
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



    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. 


    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.