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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: 'OHELO BERRY; A SPECIALTY ORNAMENTAL AND VALUE ADDED CROP OF HAWAII

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
This is a Standard Research and Extension Project (SREPs) bringing together scientists, economists, extension and industries in Hawaii and Oregon to:.
1)investigate the potential of 'ohelo (Vaccinium reticulatum) an endemic Hawaiian berry as an ornamental potted plant,.
2)establish sustainable 'ohelo berry production in Hawaii for culinary and value added products,.
3)conduct critical economical analysis for objectives 1 & 2,.
4)identify epidemiology, biology, host-pathogen interactions and management of potential fungal diseases that may impact sustainability.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Develop clonal production protocols for three selected ornamental clones through cuttings and tissue culture propagation; grow out evaluation at four elevations. Develop sustainable berry production using 'ohelo seedlings at four sites. Prepare feasibility analyses of 'ohelo as an ornamental and berry crop. Develop culinary and value added uses for 'Ohelo berries. Determine the etiology and management of fungal diseases of 'ohelo in Hawaii. Extension and technology transfer to stakeholders. Documents Reimbursable with CSREES. Log 37102.


3.Progress Report

This research supports object 2 of the in-house associated project: To efficiently and effectively conserve, regenerate and distribute tropical fruit genetic resources.

Observations on growth, disease, flowering and fruit yields were recorded weekly for selected clones and seedlings at three micro environments at 4,000 ft., 2,800 ft. and 2,500 ft elevations. Cooperator at USDA/ARS Corvallis Clonal Germplasm Repository completed the fingerprinting process using SSR (Simple Sequence Repeat) molecular markers on selected clones, and initiated cryogenic storage of clones and seeds. A commercial nursery cooperator in Oregon successfully streamlined and adapted the tissue culture process for production of clonal plugs. Five workshops were held for two groups of farmers and nursery operators in Hawaii through the University of Hawaii Extension Service. Two extension publications were released. Additional berry diversity was observed in ohelo seedlings from our parent plants. Diverse berries from multiple locations were provided to the Oregon State University cooperator for chemical component analysis. Ohelo fruits and fruit bearing bushes were made available for fruit fly susceptibility testing by USDA/ARS entomologist at the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center.

Berry production from field and potted ohelo plants in Volcano was good between February and June. Nineteen pounds of berries were provided to cooperators to conduct value-added product testing. With the increased yield of ohelo berries, freezing of the fresh fruit preserves the fruit and constitutes, and is the most viable processing method for the long harvesting period. Another method of preservation to consider was by extracting and using the juice.

In the past year, the focus in using the ohelo berry was in baked goods. The baked products tested (ranging from crumb bars to muffins to tea cakes) lacked the ‘wow’ factor that could launch a successful new product. Flavor of ohelo was indistinguishable from other berries. Our focus has since shifted towards a dessert sauce, chutney, fruit butter, extract, or sorbet. Ohelo berry has the potentials to become a lucrative commercial crop in Hawaii’s agricultural future.

The ADODR monitored progress through field visits, meeting with employees responsible for the oversight of the plantings, e-mails, telephone calls, and meetings with cooperators.


Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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