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Happily Ever Grafter

New techniques on cacao are getting a closer look

Happily Ever Grafter

At Komohana Research and Extension Center there’s been a lot of cacao excitement! PIs Eli Isele and Alyssa Cho (both TPSS) have received an Applied Grafting Techniques grant from the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development for a project comparing two hand-held machine-grafting tools with traditional grafting by hand using a knife to determine which are most efficient and cost-effective for avocado, cacao, and macadamia. 

Grad student Max Breen (right), Alyssa (left), and Eli were hard at work last week making 90 grafts of cacao trees for the trial. Just as grafting brings two distinct parts together and makes them literally grow as one, their project brought their ideas and skills together with plant material grown by emeritus professor Skip Bittenbender: the scions they grafted onto the cacao rootstock came from his Hawai‘i State Cacao Trial, part of an effort to increase the amount of quality germplasm available to farmers in Hawai‘i County. 

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