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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research » Research » Research Project #435105

Research Project: Economic Impact of Manipulating Coffee Flowering

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

Project Number: 2040-21000-017-016-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 30, 2018
End Date: Sep 29, 2023

Objective:
Manipulation of coffee flowering with plant growth regulators has the potential to increase the profitability of Hawaiian coffee farms by producing more uniform coffee harvests with higher recovery of ripe berries. This could reduce harvest costs and the reservoirs for coffee berry borer (CBB). This study is quantifying the economic costs and benefits of adopting this technology and will disseminate that information with an extension report. As part of the analysis process, a user-friendly app is under development for farmers to use when evaluating the economic impact of changing cost structures and farming practices. Total project period is extended to a total 4 years with an estimated cost to USDA of $146,245 plus UH-Hilo match of $38,577.

Approach:
In Hawaii, flowering and harvest of coffee is spread of several months resulting in an extended harvest season with its related costs. The extended presence of coffee berries provides expanded reservoirs for CBB which reduces yield and quality. Manipulation of flowering with plant growth regulators combined with pruning and sanitation has been shown to produce more uniform harvests, higher recovery of berries, and possibly reduced incidence of CBB. Before the methods can be recommended to the farmers, it is essential to determine if the increased revenue is greater than the increased management costs. Further, farmers need a user-friendly method to evaluate the economic feasibility of the methodologies on their individual farms. Work which was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, will be completed as follows: • Plant growth regulators will be applied in late 2020 / early 2021 • Pruning and sanitation will be increased • Yield of quality berries determined for the 2021/22 harvest season Time and motion studies will be conducted both on farm and in the processing plant, to quantify inputs and outputs with and without the new technology. As currently available full farm budgets for coffee are outdated, they will be updated and combined with the partial budgets to provide a clear comparison to farmers re: effects on profitability of the new technology. To facilitate the transfer of the technology to farmers, we are developing an app tentatively called CoffeeBiz. Using this app, coffee grower or other stakeholders can create and download a fundamental, non-technical, and quickly accessible analysis of coffee farming feasibility in Hawaii. The program will receive some inputs data from user and display a feasibility report in real-time. It will keep some default (typical) values in our program in case a user is not able to provide any specific values. User will be able to download this report, print this report, or share with others. The app does not require internet connectivity to continue to work after being first downloaded. Especially, this is important since many farms have little or no internet connectivity.