The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers’ 22nd annual conference, Producing Quality Fruit for the Future of Hawaii, is scheduled for Sept. 13 to 16 at the University of Hawaii Campus Center in Honolulu. The conference will host an outstanding lineup of speakers from around the state and world. Fruit growers will leave the event with new ideas for crop choices, plant maintenance, harvesting, preserving and marketing their products.
Sept. 13 will start with a panel of soil science and tropical plant experts at 8:30 a.m. The panel of UH specialists will be moderated by Robert Paull, editor of “The Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts.” The panel will provide soil science information of special interest to those growing tropical plants. Soil scientist Jonathan Deenik will be joined by organic crop specialist Ted Radovich and several other UH fruit and soil specialists, including Skip Bittenbender and Kheng Cheah.
Doug Vincent will moderate a panel at 10:30 a.m., featuring food and human nutrition experts. It offers a chance to learn the value of many tropical fruits in satisfying your appetite while increasing your nutritional intake.
The afternoon includes lectures on agricultural research, environmental protection and natural resources management, as well as agriculture tourism. The presentations will be geared to the interests of fruit growers, including current research and methodology for growing tropical fruit while minimizing the impacts on the environment and our natural resources.
Sept. 14 kicks off with an inspirational talk by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a longtime supporter of Hawaii agriculture. John Yoshimi Yonemoto follows at 8:30 a.m. with information on techniques Japanese farmers use to produce high-quality fruit.
After Yonemoto’s presentation, Scott Enright from the Agribusiness Development Corp. will moderate a panel with state Department of Agriculture specialists Matt Loke and Danielle Downey providing updates on their work. Loke specializes in agricultural marketing while Downey is an apiculture specialist.
Following these presentations, moderator Dorothy Alontaga from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will guide a panel addressing concerns farmers share around inspection of plant materials entering and leaving Hawaii. Special guest David Lamb will add national information to the discussion.
The lunchtime speaker will be Maria Gallo, the dean of the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Afternoon speakers will represent various departments in the USDA. Mark Hudson from the Department of Statistics Services will give a report on fruit production in Hawaii. Diane Ley from the Farm Service Agency, along with Angel Figueroa and Chris Kanazawa, will offer information about how the USDA can help farmers.
Starting at 4 p.m., a fruit tasting and pupu party will delight attendees with some tasty treats. A separate reservation is required for this event.
Sept. 15 offers a wide range of information starting with a presentation at 8:30 a.m. by Roberto Coronel from the University of the Philippines. In his talk, “Tropical and Subtropical Asian and Pacific Fruit for Hawaii and the World,” he’ll discuss new and exotic fruits for Hawaiian growers to consider.
Breakout sessions beginning at 10:15 a.m. offer various topic choices. The sessions will cover subjects like food preservation to extend harvest, plant propagation techniques to expand orchards and edible landscape ideas to beautify landscape while providing fresh food for the table. A new farmer workshop, one on tissue culture and another on fruit trees for the future will provide valuable guidance to those wanting to learn about new fruit possibilities and alternative propagating techniques as well as begin tropical fruit growing.
The luncheon speaker, Earnest Miller, will speak on food preservation.
The Sept. 15 dinner and Sept. 16 tours are by separate reservation offering additional chances to network with other growers.
The tours include one to Frankie’s Nursery in Waimanalo, as well as the Waimanalo Experiment Station. The other will go to the UH Urban Garden Center in Pearl City where the director of the Oahu Master Gardener program, Jayme Grzebik, will lead an informational tour. Both groups will meet at Whole Foods for lunch.
Whatever your interest in Hawaiian tropical fruit, this conference offers lots of information on the topic. Visit hawaiitropicalfruitgrowers.org/22nd_Annual_HTFG_Conference_Agenda.pdf to see the complete schedule and register for the conference.
Tropical gardening helpline
Loralee asks: I was recently hiking with a native plant enthusiast who kept pointing out plants along the trail that she referred to as invasive species. It’s not clear to me what defines an invasive species. Can you fill me in?
Answer: According to the National Invasive Species Council, an invasive species is a non-native species that causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to plant, animal or human health.
According to that definition, those of us not native to Hawaii could rightfully be classified as invasive species, but we are talking about plants here.
In the plant world, invasive species are those that have arrived from elsewhere and threaten native plant habitats. These plants can disturb the natural ecosystem, displacing native flora and causing the loss of native forests and birds, insects and animals that live there. Of the many alien species people have brought to these shores, nearly 150 have become invasive.
This means they show numerical or physical dominance, disturbing the natural regimes in an area. Of course, once invasive species are identified by these criteria, it is usually too late to effectively control the problem. To prevent the establishment of invasives, reliance on evidence of behavior of the plant in similar habitats can help. Both the Hawaii and Big Island invasive species councils work to identify and prevent the introduction of plants that have proved to be invasive elsewhere.
The identification of invasiveness in plants is reliant on many factors. Several are of outstanding importance and can be monitored by local gardeners and farmers. They include these three important characteristics:
1. Plants that produce seeds or spores that are easily dispersed by animals or the wind have a large potential for invasiveness. Examples include African tulip trees, berry-producing trees like Christmas berry and shrubs like blackberry.
2. Plants that produce a large number of seeds or spread quickly by both seed and individual expansion. A single miconia plant, for example, produces nearly 1 million seeds. Kahili ginger seeds can be dispersed by birds and once the plant is established, it can quickly expand to fill an area.
3. Plants that grow rapidly. An outstanding example of this is salvinia, a floating aquatic fern that is capable of doubling its population size every two to three days, quickly choking out water bodies it infests.
The Hawaii State Alien Species coordinator’s list of the worst invasive plants in Hawaii can be found at state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/hortweeds/specieslist.htm. If you are growing any of these species, you should remove them and dispose of them responsibly. Since many plants not on this list can also threaten our native habitats, it is good to review the criteria for establishing invasiveness and check your gardens for invasive species. Don’t plant a pest.
Email plant questions to email@example.com for answers by certified master gardeners. Some questions will be chosen for inclusion in this column.
Diana Duff is a plant adviser, educator and consultant with an organic farm in Captain Cook.