Hawaii's Banana Growers Can Now Target New
By Marcia Wood
September 24, 1999
Hawaii's banana growers may have a better chance to capture mainland and
overseas markets, thanks to experiments led by scientists at the
Agricultural Research Service.
The tests demonstrated conditions for safely shipping island-grown bananas
without need for treatments to ensure the fruit is free of Mediterranean fruit
flies and oriental fruit flies.
The research is a boon for growers and consumers alike. That's because the
previous disinfestation treatment, which relied on a now-banned
chemical--ethylene dibromide-- added to costs, and could hasten spoilage of the
Fruit leaving Hawaii for the U.S. mainland must be free of any hitchhiking
Mediterranean or oriental fruit flies. Because the pests can attack more than
200 different fruits and vegetables, they are constant threats to mainland
In laboratory and outdoor experiments, the researchers used thousands of
freshly harvested bananas from more than a dozen plantations on the five major
Hawaiian islands. ARS entomologist John W. Armstrong and colleagues showed that
the bananas won't harbor these fruit flies if the fruit is shipped full size,
green skinned and without cuts or punctures.
The scientists' efforts led USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service in 1998 to approve new, workable regulations for shipping the
bananas without disinfestation treatments.
Armstrong and co-workers did the research at ARS' U.S. Pacific Basin
Agricultural Research Center in Hilo, Hawaii, in collaboration with the
University of Hawaii
Cooperative Extension Service and the Hawaii Banana Industry Association.
They used three kinds of the familiar Cavendish banana and the specialty
"Hawaiian apple banana," which has a sweet, custardlike flavor.
An article in the September issue of ARS' Agricultural Research
magazine tells more. Read it on the World Wide Web at:
In 1998, Hawaii growers produced about 21 million pounds of bananas, worth
about $7 million.
ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contact: John W. Armstrong, ARS U.S. Pacific Basin
Agricultural Research Center, Hilo, Hawaii, phone (808) 959-4336, fax (808)