Pacific Fruit Genetic Resource Management and Sustainable Production Systems
Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research
Title: The tropical fruit and nut collections and research activities at the USDA-ARS Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center, Tropical Plant Genetic Resource and Disease Research unit
Submitted to: Journal of American Pomological Society
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2009
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
Citation: Zee, F.T., Matsumoto Brower, T.K. 2010. The tropical fruit and nut collections and research activities at the USDA-ARS Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center, Tropical Plant Genetic Resources Management Unit. Journal of American Pomological Society.64(1):2-4.
Interpretive Summary: The Tropical Plant Genetic Resource and Disease Research unit in Hilo, Hawaii, formerly known as the USDA, ARS, National Clonal Germplasm Repository is responsible for the collection of tropical fruits and nuts for the USDA,ARS, National Plant Germplasm System. In addition to efforts in maintenance, characterization and distribution of designated crop germplasm, we impact the diversified agriculture industry in Hawaii as one of the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) units. The unit cares for a living collection of approximately 1000 accessions from fourteen (14) designated fruit and nut crops and their relatives. The unit is managed by a curator horticulturist, two research scientists and seven field and laboratory technicians. The fourteen designated tropical fruits and nut including Ananas (pineapple), Artocarpus (breadfruit), Averrhoa (star fruit), Bactris (peach palm), Canarium (pili nut), Carica (papaya), Dimocarpus (longan), Litchi (lychee), Macadamia (nuts), Malpighia (acerola cherry), Nephelium (rambutan and pulasan), Psidium (guava), Passiflora (passion fruit) and a back up of Theobroma (cacao)- (http://ars.gov/pwa/hilorepository). The diversification of Hawaii’s agriculture accelerated during the 1990’s with the closing and liquidation of the sugar industry on the island of Hawaii and Oahu, however on Maui and Kauai, raw sugar still valued at $74.8 million (2006 statistic of Hawaii Agriculture). In the same period, pineapple was valued at $62.4 million, followed by coffee at $ 37 million (parchment basis), macadamia at $38.9 million, floral and nursery $100.689 million, papaya at $11 million and specialty tropical fruit at $2.61 million. Consistency and availability are important factors determining the success of a diversified crop, for example, longan generated the highest income return for the farmers among the Sapindaceae (lychee, longan and rambutan) group because of the use of potassium chlorate in longan cultures for off-season production. For other minor tropical fruit crops, the proper timing in pruning, fertilizing and stress inductions is effective management tools. New germplasm of lychee, peach palm and rambutan suitable for warmer climates should be explored and collected.
In Hawaii, consistency and reliability are important factors determining the success of a crop, for example, longan generated the highest income return for the farmers among the Sapindaceae (lychee, longan and rambutan) group in 2006 because of the use of potassium chlorate for off-season productions in longan. Although there is no available chemical as potassium chlorate for ‘Kaimana’ lychee, a management method was developed using moderate pruning and timing of fertilizer applications. In the Hilo and Kona studies, average yield of one hundred pound per tree was reported on nine-year old trees. New lychee germplasm from more tropical centers of origin should be explored and collected to improve production potential in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
The introduction of the thornless peach palm in 1980’s was the beginning of the palm hearts industry in Hawaii. The multiple stems, thornless, peach palm allows for relative ease of harvest of palm heart when compared to the thorny wild types. Palm heart is valued highly as a gourmet vegetable by the culinary trade. The thornless peach palms grow rapidly and are harvested throughout the year in the deep soil of former sugar cane fields along the Hamakua coast of Hawaii.