“The entire coffee industry of Hawai‘i relies on our research and Extension work in response to the coffee berry borer and coffee root-knot nematode—just as local ranchers continue looking to CTAHR to find a grass that is tolerant to the two-lined spittlebug,” says Nick Yamauchi, farm foreman of the Kona Research Station.
“Coffee and cattle are hugely important to Hawai‘i Island,” he adds. “A pandemic doesn’t stop the trees from bearing fruit, or the cows from maturing, or the plant pests and diseases that threaten these local industries and local people’s livelihoods.”
Fighting plant pests is just one of the many ways Nick Yamauchi, Dylan Cunningham, Matt Miyahira, Andrea Kawabata, Elizabeth Whitney, Yoshiaki Higashide, Justin Yeh, and other CTAHR faculty and staff on Hawai‘i Island are working diligently to keep grant-funded projects moving forward, while maintaining social distancing and other precautions.
Kona staff are assisting CTAHR and USDA researchers, Extension specialists, and agents with critical projects funded by the County of Hawai‘i, HDOA, USDA-ARS, and USDA-NIFA in data collection, irrigation, planting, and general station and project maintenance.
Recently, they erected a fence to exclude feral hogs from a coffee replant plot. This important project is testing the efficacy of potential nematicides and the best methods for replanting coffee in soil that is infested with coffee root-knot nematode. Feral pigs are a big problem on CTAHR research and experiment stations, devastating outreach and research projects meant to support Hawai‘i’s farming community.
“The sooner we find solutions, the better for our ranchers and coffee growers,” says Nick. “So as long as there’s sun and rain and soil, our work will continue.”