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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Miami, Florida » Subtropical Horticulture Research » Research » Research Project #425499

Research Project: Introduction and Evaluation of New Cacao Germplasm in Hawaii

Location: Subtropical Horticulture Research

Project Number: 6038-21000-023-11-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2013
End Date: Nov 28, 2015

The primary goals of this project are to introduce new cacao germplasm that has been developed by the collaborative breeding programs of USDA-ARS-SHRS with INIAP and CATIE into Hawaii. Another primary objective is evaluation of agronomic properties and quality traits, as well as the measure of the levels of resistance to Black Pod (BP; Phytophthora spp.) of these new cultivars of cacao. To attain these goals, several new disease resistant cacao clones need to be planted under Hawaiian conditions and this will efficiently facilitate the selection of genotypes with high productivity, excellent quality traits and high levels of BP resistance in cacao. Research performed in genetic resource evaluation, disease resistance screening techniques, and practical field selection are all part of a global strategy to develop superior planting material for farmers worldwide. The project has three specific goals: 1. Establish new cacao field trials in Hawaii for yield evaluation of elite clones from the USDA-ARS newly developed cultivars from the breeding programs of INIAP and CATIE. 2. Utilize phytopathological screening methodology to identify genotypes with high levels of Black Pod resistance in cacao in yield trials. 3. Evaluate organoleptic properties of the chocolate produced by these new cacao cultivars.

Currently there is a growing interest for increasing the cacao acreage in Hawaii; however, there is a lack of high yielding and superior quality varieties. With the goal of the development of a Hawaii-grown chocolate industry based upon grafted, high yielding, superior quality clones with excellent disease resistance, material will be obtained from the breeding programs in Central and South America. Selected varieties and germplasm selections developed by the breeding program at CATIE, Costa Rica and INIAP, Ecuador, cacao germplasm developed by the USDA-ARS-TARS in Puerto Rico and selected clones made in Hawaii will be planted in at least four different locations in Hawaii representing different environmental growing conditions. The trial is established in a randomized complete block design, with six replications. Each plot will have three trees each entry, giving a total of 18 plants per entry. Planting distance between cacao plants will be 2.5 m x 2.5 m, with banana plants (Musa spp.) and high valued endemic koa trees (Acacia koa) as temporary and permanent shade, respectively. Data collected will consist of number of healthy and diseased pods, pod index estimates and organoleptic/quality evaluations.