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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Hilo, Hawaii » Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center » Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research » Research » Research Project #442952

Research Project: Sustainable and Profitable Production of Specialty Crops in a Changing Environment

Location: Tropical Crop and Commodity Protection Research

Project Number: 2040-22430-027-048-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2022
End Date: Oct 31, 2025

Specialty crops in Hawaii and other islands in the U.S. Pacific Basin face a variety of challenges to sustainable and profitable production, including climate-related changes in the environment. Not only are specialty crop systems highly diverse in Hawaii, but so are their potential vulnerabilities to climate change. This diversity in specialty crops and how they may respond to increasing climate variability and environmental change can best be addressed through a systems approach designed to understand the nature of crop and location-specific interactions. The overall goal of the project is to develop research and technology that address key challenges throughout the production system, and that benefit growers of diverse tropical fruit, nut and beverage crops. Specific objectives are to: 1) assess trends in climate variability and potential impacts on specialty crop systems in the U.S. Pacific Basin; 2) develop pest and disease management and mitigation strategies for specific crops and locations under variable micro-climates; 2) employ breeding, genetic, and genomic techniques to develop cultivars with resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses; 3) develop methods to improve nutrient and water availability and soil health to enhance crop production and quality; and 4) develop decision support systems that help to increase the efficiency, resilience, and sustainability of specialty crop systems in a changing environment.

The research will use a systems approach to solve key problems that limit the productivity, quality, or economic viability of diverse specialty crops. Strategies include breeding, genetics, genomics, disease resistance, early detection and novel control of pests, optimized cultural practices, improved postharvest systems, and the development of process-based models. Traditional breeding and genetic techniques will be used to develop insect, disease and drought resistant horticultural cultivars, with an emphasis on ornamentals, coffee, and tropical fruit. Clonal propagation, use of tolerant rootstocks, biological control, and soil amendments will be evaluated for disease and pest control, yield and quality of cacao, coffee, and/or macadamia nuts. Phenological changes related to climate change will be investigated for coffee, macadamia nuts, breadfruit or select tropical fruit. Preharvest and postharvest systems will be developed for under-utilized crops or import replacement crops to expand the availability of locally produced food. Environmental monitoring, remote sensing, and smart-agriculture technologies will be assessed and adapted to small, diversified farms.