Skip to main content
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 #444991

Research Project: Genetic Improvement and Evaluation of Coffee and Cacao in Hawaii

Location: Tropical Plant Genetic Resources and Disease Research

Project Number: 2040-21000-019-008-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2026

The overall goal of this project is to develop genetic resources for tropical crops (such as coffee and cacao) with improved horticultural traits, disease resistance, and quality. Specific objectives are to: 1) Develop locally adapted, Coffee Leaf Rust resistant coffee varieties for release to growers in Hawaii. 2) Import, maintain and propagate coffee genetic resources to support long-term access to coffee germplasm. 3) Evaluate select cacao germplasm to identify improved cultivars growers in Hawaii. 4) Develop tissue culture and plant regeneration protocols to enable precision breeding methods for tropical crops.

HARC imported Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) resistant varieties to the HARC Kunia station in the late 1990s and made F1 populations with Hawaii commercial varieties. HARC will continue to maintain these populations as a diverse population for ongoing CLR resistant breeding objectives. HARC will also work directly with USDA-ARS-PBARC to transfer CLR resistance screening assay methods and thus increase the screening capabilities within the state. Furthermore, HARC will continue efforts to develop a high-throughput, on farm, CLR susceptibility assay to more quickly identify susceptible genotypes from breeding efforts. HARC will continue to maintain a core, field collection of locally adapted commercial sugarcane varieties and supply seed pieces for local growers. HARC tissue culture experts will utilize HARC’s lab and experience to continue method development aimed at enabling application of novel precision breeding technology to tropical crops. Finally, HARC will continue the long-term cacao clonal evaluation trial at HARC Maunawili and Dole Waialua to determine locally adapted genotypes for Hawaii farmers.