News and Events


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FETCHing Some Engagement

FETCHing Some Engagement 21 January 2020

FETCHing Some Engagement

Hale Tuahine family training center uses gardening to help build ‘ohana

The Family Education Training Center of Hawaii, under the aegis of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, is offering enrichment and help building sustainable lifestyles for the whole family with its new Youth Advantage! Sustainable Sciences Internship and Family Advantage! Programs.

Spittlebugs on the Move

Spittlebugs on the Move 21 January 2020

Spittlebugs on the Move

Pasture pest is spreading on Hawai‘i Island

Mark Thorne, in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, is quoted in a Hawaii News Now article about the invasive pest devastating Big Island pastures, the two-lined spittlebug. The bug, which first appeared in 2016, kills forage grasses that cattle graze on.

Beginning With the Beans

Beginning With the Beans 21 January 2020

Beginning With the Beans

Coffee workshops are highlights of the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival

How do you make the perfect cup of coffee? CTAHR’s Cooperative Extension partnered with the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival and Lehu‘ula Farms to educate coffee producers, consumers, and the public on how to make that perfect cup by making informed decisions when purchasing and brewing coffee.

Yay, Ag Day

Yay, Ag Day 13 January 2020

Yay, Ag Day

Sign up now to present at Ag Day at the Capitol

Agriculture Day at the Capitol (February 5) is an opportunity to showcase CTAHR’s impact on Hawaiʻi. Up to 400 state lawmakers, staff, and stakeholders are expected to attend, and booths fill up fast, so please RSVP ASAP to publicize your program or project with an informational display, interactive activity, swag, or samples.

What Will the Cattle Eat?

What Will the Cattle Eat? 23 December 2019

What Will the Cattle Eat?

CTAHR tackles spittlebug infestations on Hawai‘i Island

A recent article in Hawaii Tribune Herald noted that Mark Thorne, Extension specialist with the Department of Human Nutrition, Food & Animal Sciences, is working with the Kona livestock community to combat the two-line spittlebug (TLSB), a recently discovered pasture pest. They "pose a significant economic threat to the Hawai‘i livestock industry,” he says.

A Tale of Two Disciplines

A Tale of Two Disciplines 23 December 2019

A Tale of Two Disciplines

Flowers from research trials get a starring role

When thinking of CTAHR’s interdisciplinary collaborations, the connection between plant sciences and the Theatre and Dance department isn’t perhaps the first to come to mind. But this exact partnership came into full bloom for the recent UH Manoa theatre production Leviathan, which went up at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre on December 5–8.

Bloom as a Floriculture Agent

Bloom as a Floriculture Agent 23 December 2019

Bloom as a Floriculture Agent

New Extension position is open

The position of junior or assistant Extension agent in Floriculture on Hawai‘i Island, position #0082196, has been posted at University of Hawai‘i NEOGOV. Housed in the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences and based in Hilo, the position is responsible for helping to develop, coordinate, and conduct a science-based educational program for the floriculture, nursery and related industries.

Hosting the Lawmakers

Hosting the Lawmakers 13 December 2019

Hosting the Lawmakers

State senators and representatives take a field trip to Magoon 

What is CTAHR’s impact on Hawai‘i? Is our research relevant to the state’s needs and sustainability? Does our outreach benefit the local economy, environment, and food supply? A sizable contingent of state senators, representatives, and staff got their chance to learn the answers on November 21 when they visited the Magoon Research and Instructional Facility during CTAHR’s 2019 Legislative Visit.

They’re Aware

They’re Aware 13 December 2019

They’re Aware

600+ Attend CTAHR’s Agriculture and Environmental Awareness Day

Morning sunlight bouncedoff animated faces as the busloads of 5th-graders disembarked at the Oʻahu Urban Garden Center. The occasion was Agriculture and Environmental Awareness Day, and the 555 students and 48 teachers on this November 2 field trip were in for a special treat. Awaiting them were rows of outdoor exhibits, hands-on presentations, fun activities, food samples—even a small pen with live goats. 

Locavore’s Paradise

Locavore’s Paradise 13 December 2019

Locavore’s Paradise

The 2nd annual Variety Showcase features a wealth of local ingredients

Imagine a large room, with 30 professional chefs all cooking up something special with locally farmed ingredients. At the 2nd Variety Showcase held recently at Kapi‘olani Community College, that foodie’s dream was brought to reality. The event pairs up local farmers and breeders with local culinary experts, builds community and collaboration, and invites the public to learn more and taste the results: some awesome food, made in Hawai‘i.

Food for Families

Food for Families 26 November 2019

Food for Families

EFNEP celebrates a half-century milestone

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is celebrating 50 years of successful programming! In Hawai‘i, EFNEP is a grassroots initiative of CTAHR’s Cooperative Extension Service in cooperation with county, state, and federal partners. It teaches parents, caregivers, and youth the essentials of nutrition, food safety, food resource management, food preparation, and physical activity.

Tune in for Food

Tune in for Food 26 November 2019

Tune in for Food

Mixed Plate Minute with Pamela Young and Sam Choy’s in the Kitchen feature CTAHR ingredients and staff

What? You missed a whole season of Sam Choy? Eight humorous episodes with the world-renowned chef inviting himself into a couple’s home, raiding their kitchen for leftovers, and reaching for CTAHR ingredients to save the meal? Not to mention Pamela Young’s terrific storytelling vignettes inserted into the episodes, featuring interviews with CTAHR’s very own Ted Radovich, Jari Sugano, and more? No worries—all of the episodes are available online!

Farm on the Garden

Farm on the Garden 26 November 2019

Farm on the Garden

Ag and Extension positions open on Kaua‘i

The CTAHR ‘ohana on Kaua‘i is growing—they are currently hiring for multiple positions to join the team. There are openings for the county administrator, based in Līhu‘e; agricultural research technician (III) at the Kaua‘i Agricultural Research Center in the Wailua Homesteads; and an 89-day temporary hire Agricultural Research Tech, also based in Wailua.

Birds in the Garden

Birds in the Garden 13 November 2019

Birds in the Garden

Multimedia symphony is coming to Kaua‘i

The Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds will be performed on Kaua‘i for the first time in February 2020, and help is needed to recruit teachers on the island to bring their students. All classes in grades 4–12, as well as home-schooled students, are welcome. It's a place-based interdisciplinary program that brings together science, music, art, dance, and education to tell the story of our endangered Hawaiian forest birds.

Maui Burning

Maui Burning 5 November 2019

Maui Burning

NREM researcher warns that recent wildfires require proactive response

Clay Trauernicht (NREM) wrote a chilling article on a hot topic in Civil Beat. The wildland fire researcher and Extension faculty member discussed Central Maui fires that burned nearly 20,000 acres this summer (see image of burned area from the Sentinel-2 satellite). This “unprecedented” area reflects “dramatic increases in wildfires across the state,” he warns.

New Produce and How to Eat It

New Produce and How to Eat It 5 November 2019

New Produce and How to Eat It

Come to the delicious Variety Showcase

CTAHR’s beginning farmer-training program GoFarm Hawai‘i is teaming up with the Culinary Breeding Network to present the second annual Variety Showcase. Hosted by the Kapi’olani Community College Culinary Arts Program in collaboration with CTAHR, Hawaiian Seed Growers Network, and Farm Link Hawaii, it will feature unique and in-development fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal products along with traditional favorites, presented by those who grow them.

New Faces: Hannah Lutgen

New Faces: Hannah Lutgen 5 November 2019

New Faces: Hannah Lutgen

Welcome to Hannah Lutgen, who is the new Maui County Extension agent for landscape and ornamental growers! It’s great to have her onboard as part of the team! Hannah received her Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Horticulture and comes to the college from her previous position as a conservation specialist with the Maui Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

In Memoriam: Dave Williams

In Memoriam: Dave Williams 5 November 2019

In Memoriam: Dave Williams

We are saddened to report that Dr. Dave Williams, plant breeder and former superintendent of the Kula Ag Station, died on October 16. He developed the station; introduced protea, which continues to be a viable crop for the flower industry, to the island; and at the Pineapple Research Institute on O‘ahu developed the ‘Gold’ pineapple. He will be missed.

For the Birds

For the Birds 28 October 2019

For the Birds

Enjoy a night at the Honolulu Symphony while learning about endangered native birds

Join in the avian excitement as the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra performs the Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds, an original set of works produced by Hawai‘i’s composers, artists, biologists, and educators! Melissa Price of CTAHR’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management is a creator of the concert project, bringing to it her perspective on conservation and wildlife management. It’s all happening November 5 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall!

Meet the Pros at AgPro

Meet the Pros at AgPro 17 October 2019

Meet the Pros at AgPro

Extension professional development conference is coming to Kaua‘i

Extension faculty are invited to the annual Agricultural Professional Development training (AgPro) offered by CTAHR’S Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program (SOAP), supported by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (WSARE) on November 5–6 on Kaua‘i at the Courtyard by Marriott Kaua'i at Coconut Beach.

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28 April 2020

Germination Is a Beautiful Thing

Understanding how seeds sprout will help your garden

Germination Is a Beautiful Thing

Whether you’re a fuzzy neophyte or gnarled veteran of the backyard garden, we should never lose our fascination with the seed germination process. It is magical how such little things, buried in darkness, will quickly emerge from the surface, full of life and independence.

If you’re growing vegetables for the very first time, it’s helpful to understand how plants propagate. So be inspired by your vision of a bountiful harvest of fresh produce, but don’t get so intoxicated that you merely “wet it and forget it.”

For a seed to germinate, it must be viable (alive) and non-dormant (no chemical or physical barriers). Your best bet is using fresh seeds, either saved from a working garden or purchased fresh or stored from a reputable source.

Germination begins when water is absorbed by a dry seed. Essentially, this is an awakening stage in which biological systems are reactivated by cell hydration. Next, stored food is transferred to the embryo’s growing points, which expand until the seedling emerges. You can help this process by keeping the soil loose and well-aerated, avoiding heavy or overly wet soil. Store-bought peat provides optimal conditions: water and oxygen retention, without pests or disease.

Temperature is an important environmental factor affecting germination and subsequent growth. For many plants, optimal sprouting temperature ranges between 80 and 90 degrees. It the weather is cool, or you live mauka, you can improve germination by bringing the seed bed or pot indoors and placing it in a warm location, such as next to a sunny window or on top of the fridge.

Most seeds do not require light to germinate. In fact, certain seeds, like some onions, are inhibited by light. However, lettuce seeds are a notable exception and do prefer light.

Keep It Moist

Once germination has begun, you must maintain a continuous moisture supply. Even a temporary drying out could result in the seed’s premature death—the most common source of failure. This is because seeds are near the surface, which is the first area to dry out between waterings.

As demonstrated by my daughter Yazzy, you can keep moisture from evaporating by stretching clear plastic wrap over the container tops. Leave several inches of clearance above the media for the emerging seedlings. Please remove the covering as soon as germination occurs, because the high humidity inside is conducive to fungal diseases that can attack a succulent sprout.

Yazzy had a blast demonstrating the ease and fun to be had planting tomatoes. Try it with your keiki, too!

Ty McDonald, Landscape Industry and Consumer Horticulture, Kona Cooperative Extension, UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources