Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program


Volume 43 July | Aug | Sept 2021

The Food Provider
2021 July| Aug | Sept Volume 43
Sustainable & Organic Research & Outreach News
News from Hawai'i's Researchers & Extension Professionals
Tensiometer Driven Irrigation System Trial 
Jensen Uyeda and Lauren Balidad
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Irrigation management in commercial agriculture is a common concern. After identifying how to install an irrigation system the next question is how much water to provide the crop with. There are many different ways to quantify crop water needs including the use of weather or evapotranspiration models as well as physically measuring the moisture in the soil near the plant roots. In many cases weather models require a large initial investment in order to set up a weather station. It may also require additional crop specific information which may not exist and can be costly to identify. Soil moisture may be a cheaper alternative and can be measured in many different ways including the use of tensiometers, Time-Domain Reflectometry (TDR) or capacitance sensors.
This paper outlines an experiment conducted at the Poamoho Research Station, which compared a recommended corn irrigation requirement of 2inches (54,000gals/acre) of water per day vs. an automated tensiometer driven irrigation system set to withhold daily irrigation unless the tensiometer exceeds 30kPa. To read the entire paper click here. For tensiometer building instructions click here
FMI contact Jensen Uyeda
Cacao Living Cages: A Proof-of-Concept Trial for Alternative Cacao Establishment
Emilie Kirk, Eli Isele, and Amjad Ahmad
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Although cacao (Theobroma cacao) cultivation is expanding in Hawaii along with the nascent chocolate industry, young cacao trees are vulnerable to defoliation, especially due to feeding damage from Chinese Rose Beetles (Adoretus sinicus) and from wind burn. It is common practice for wire cage tree shelters to be placed around each tree at planting or transplanting to protect the young plants in the field. Constructing these cages is simple, but the materials including wire, shade cloth, plastic sheeting, or other materials, are costly, and cage assembly is time consuming on a large scale. As cacao orchards increase in size, there is interest in finding alternatives to using wire cages for each tree. In the featured article, extension agents at CTAHR conducted a trial with the use of single-species cover crop treatments were compared to conventional wire cages and uncaged treatments. To read the full article, click here.
FMI contact Emilie Kirk
Transitioning Tissue Culture Banana Seedlings from Lab to Field
Amjad A. Ahmad, Koon Hui Wang, Theodore J.K. Radovich, Jensen Uyeda, Sharon Motomura-
Wages, Emilie Kirk, Joshua Silva, Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite, Kylie Tavares, and Jari Sugano
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Tissue or micropropagation is an artificial method for multiplying plants in a short
duration of time using tissue or cell culture technique in a controlled environment. This method was selected to produce genetically identical, pathogen-free banana plants in Hawaii. Due to the decline in banana production caused by BBTV, CTAHR researcher wanted to produce and distribute a large quantity of disease-free banana plantlets based on local industry needs and requests, Dwarf Brazilian Apple Banana was selected for this project. This paper discusses the process in which Dwarf Brazillian Apple Banana's were produced. To read the full article click here
Onion Thrips Management in Bulb Onions
Rosemary Gutierrez-Coarite and Kylie Tavares
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
 Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci) are tiny soft insects that range in color from yellow to black as they grow into adults, and its body length is only 1/16”. Onion thrips feed on onion leaves by sucking the sap. Populations are favored by hot, dry weather but heavy rain or overhead irrigation may lower populations. This paper demonstrates the evaluation of pesticide rotations to control bulb onion thrips under different spray rotations. To read the full article click here
Relationship Between Pepper Size, Harvest Time and Labor Costs in Hawai'i- Grown Hot Peppers (Capsicum sp) 
Ted Radovich, Glenn Teves, Alton Arakaki, Kevin Crosby, Archana Pant, Eric Collier and Amjad Ahmad 
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Small fruited peppers of Capsicum spp. are heavily used in Asian- Pacific cuisine and are a common ingredient in local hot sauce, pickles and other value-added products in Hawai’i. Consequently, small fruited hot peppers have potential as a high-value specialty crop for Hawai’i growers. Labor costs associated with hand-harvest are expected to be high and dependent on pepper size/weight. While the relationship between pepper size/weight and harvest time is unknown, we suspect that selecting cultivars within a market type for relatively large pepper size may reduce labor costs associated with hand harvest considerably. Researchers at CTAHR tested 15 cultivars of three pepper species in replicate field trials. Click here to read full article.
FMI contact Theodore Radovich
Paper Pot Gardening: Introducing Youth and Families to Basic Sustainable Home Gardening
Christine Hanakawa
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa
The COVID-19 shutdown which started in March 2020, affected many family’s ability to engage in outdoor and group type activities. With the assistance of dedicated community partners, Oahu 4-H Youth Development Program distributed 1,619 Paper Pot Gardening Kits to youth and families all over Oahu within a year. The development of the paper pot gardening kits was to outreach and educate youth and their families during the “Stay at Home Order.” Youth learned how seedlings were started, how to make a biodegradable newspaper planting container (pot), how to plant a seedling in a newspaper pot, how to care for the plant, harvest techniques for fruits and vegetables, and learned how to integrate their harvest into their meals through various handouts and recipes found in the kit.
Click here to read the full article
Learn by Doing: Using Life Skills to Grow Youth Leaders and Pumpkins
Christine Hanakawa, Joshua Silva, Rebecca Settlage, Katherine Eickstead, Kalani Matsumoto
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa
The Oahu 4-H Giant Pumpkin Contest Planning Team started the first Giant Pumpkin Contest (GPC) program before summer. Youth participated in a Soil Prep 101 workshop where youth were engaged with soil identification, soil testing, and prepping their soil with the necessary nutrients before planting their giant pumpkin seedlings. Various Talk Story Sessions were facilitated by FFA with various Junior Master Gardener (JMG) activities. JMG activities focused on learning what plants need--P.L.A.N.T.S. basics (Place, Light, Air, Nutrients, Thirsty, and Soil), labeling their plants, transplanting the seedlings, hand pollination, and record keeping. The Talk story was also a time where youth could share with each other about their plants, what worked well and what challenges they are facing. 
Click here to read the full article
Publications & Programs
Other CTAHR Publications & Programs
Livestock Wala'au Podcast
Hosted by Melelani Oshiro and Shannon Sand
University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Introducing the Livestock Wala’au podcast. Brought to you by University of Hawai'i CTAHR and the Livestock Extension Group. The goal of this podcast is to provide educational support, information, guidance and outreach to livestock stakeholders in Hawai’i. Our first episode aired on April 5th, 2021, introducing listeners to our podcast and your hosts, Melelani Oshiro & Shannon Sand. Their podcast can be accessed through their website, Livestock Wala’au and on the Livestock Extension Group Youtube channel, as well as apple podcasts, google podcasts, spotify, stitcher, and other major podcast outlets.
The next episode was scheduled air May 3rd featuring Dr. Jenee Odani. Dr. Odani discussed the importance of herd health and biosecurity.  If you have any questions or comments, please send emails to: or
Calling all Seed Savers!
A new CTAHR team is looking for input about how to support seed saving and seed production in Hawaii through an online needs assessment survey. Seed savers of all experience levels are invited to offer their feedback about future seed-related outreach and education, with a long-term goal to promote access to better adapted local crop varieties in Hawaii. The survey is open until October 31 and can be accessed at
For more information, please contact Emilie Kirk ( or James Keach (
Beginning Farmers
Helpful articles and resources for those getting started
Sheep and Goat Production
Sheep and goats are versatile animals and can be valuable and enjoyable additions to many farms, providing meat, milk and fiber products, as well as brush control and pasture improvement services. This 20-page book published by ATTRA, provides basic and heavily graphic introduction to sheep and goat production, animal selection, feeding, breeding and young stock, equipment and handling, and marketing.
Funding for Women-owned Small Businesses
The 8(a) Business Development program helps small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace. Check with WBCs and local assistance resources for guidance, and their Lender Match tool for finding capital.
Women-owned small businesses can also take advantage of SBA loan programs. Their partners offer advice and counseling to help choose the right path for your company.
Organic Update
Hawai’i Organic Growers Must Apply for Organic Cost Share by Nov. 1, 2021
Organic producers and handlers can now apply for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds to assist with the cost of receiving or maintaining organic certification. Applications for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) are due Nov. 1, 2021 to your county office of the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees. Producers can be reimbursed for expenses made between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021 including application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage. For 2021, OCCSP will reimburse 50% of a certified operation’s allowable certification costs, up to a maximum of $500 for each of the following categories: crops, wild crops, livestock, processing/handling. For information on where to apply, click here:
Click here for the application
CTAHR Researchers Receive USDA Grant for Organic Sweet Potato Research
With a new $740K grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, Dr. Koon Hui Wang of CTHAR’s Dept. of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences will pursue improved yields, quality – and profitability of organic sweet potato production. The goal is to develop an economical organic “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) approach against the sweet potato weevil, nematodes, and soil-borne pathogens, while restoring soil health. The overall target is to present a decision-support tool and guidelines for small- to mid-size organic sweet potato farmers. For more information on this project, see:
Bayer (Formerly Monsanto) Announces Organic Vegetable Seed Line
Vegetables by Bayer will bring to market more organically produced seeds in three key crops for the greenhouse and glasshouse sectors: tomato, sweet pepper, and cucumber in 2022. Varieties will be sold under both the Seminis and De Ruiter brands. For more information, see:
the 2022 Global Organic Produce Expo (GOPEX) will be held Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2022 in Hollywood, Florida. The education lineup is tailored for fresh produce professionals throughout the organics supply chain. Sessions will include expert panels discussing packaging and growing innovations, interactive breakouts and demos, an organics-focused merchandising competition and more. Registration is now open and show organizers will announce more speaker and session details in coming weeks. To learn more about the program and register for the event, go to
Upcoming Events
Western IPM Center 2022 Grants:
Larger Awards and More Funding Available

Applications Due December 3, 2021
The Western IPM Center is super-sizing its 2022 annual grants with larger individual awards and more total funding available than in previous years.
The maximum award has increased to $50,000 from $30,000 and a total of about $400,000 will be available this cycle, up from the more-typical $250,000.
Center grants provide funds to complement other federal, state and private funding sources by supporting project initiation, outreach and implementation, work groups, and IPM planning document development. We encourage projects that extend IPM practices to stakeholders who will use IPM strategies to decrease the risks associated with pests and pest management while addressing Center goals. Available funds. Funding of approximately $400,000 is available for this competitive grant program. Budget limits per project are $50,000. Budgets may include indirect charges of no more than 30% of Total Federal Funds (TFF). 
Grape Journey
If you live in Hawai’i, love table grapes, and would like to learn more about varieties that will thrive in the subtropics and how to grow them on your farm, home or school garden, you might want to come on a “grape journey” with us over the next 2 years.
Gerry Herbert from Kawanui Farm in Kona, will be conducting a SARE (Sustainable
Agriculture Research & Education) sponsored table grape research & education project and everyone is welcome to join at no cost.
This project will create a stakeholder group of interested growers and our “Through the Grapevine” Blog sharing current research & photos will be sent to you 3x a year.
There will be two virtual or in person on-farm field day Workshops. One each year.
You will also each receive a mailed copy of their Booklet “Growing Table Grapes in
Subtropical Hawaiʻi Using Organic Practices.”
There will be videos of presentations, a tropical grape resource page, and last but
certainly not least a grape repository for successful varieties making scions available to stakeholders yearly.
Check out the Kawanui Farm website and read all about the project:
If this project sounds interesting and you would like to join their email list send Gerry an email at Please tell them a little about yourself including where you grow.
Static Hydroponics Webinar
Webinar Date: Friday, November 5, 2021
Pickup Info: October 29 - November 2, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM Gilmore 125
Join the Coalition to Stop Campus Hunger for a webinar on static hydroponics! Learn how to grow your vegetables from your home or dorm. The webinar will be hosted by CTAHR alumna Mahrukh Khawaja and CTAHR Ph.D. candidate Jessie Kai on Friday, November 5 at 5 PM. Participants will receive the Zoom link upon submitting the registration.
A limited number of hydroponics kits will be available for students. Kits will be available for pick up from the ASAO office on October 29 - November 2 from 8 AM - 4 PM at the CTAHR Academic and Student Affairs Office in Gilmore Hall 125.
Financial Fitness Workshop Hosted by HFUU
The Foundation for Financial Education presents the Financial Fitness Workshop for all producers. Workshop is hosted by HFUU.
Discussion Topics: 
  • Cash Floww Management
  • Basics of Tax Planning
  • Creating a Financial Road Map
  • Introduction to Estate Planning and more . . . 
Date: Monday, Nov 8, 2021
Time: 1-2pm

Feature Farmer
Pu'u O Hoku Ranch
Kaunakakai, Moloka'i, HI
Farmer: Pu'u O Ranch
Area under production: A few thousand acres
Years farming in Hawai'i: Farming full-time for the past 30 years
Crops grown, animals raised, goods & services:  Green vegetables, honey, cattle, banana, and awa.
Fertility Management: We maintain biodynamic and organic certification and practices. Beyond managing soil fertility and pest populations, we aim to use these practices for regenerative purposes, to give back to the land. We rotate crops, make our own compost, and use companion planting throughout the farm and vegetable garden. We plant a diverse population of plants and trees all over the farm to encourage and attract beneficial species into the growing environment.
Hot Tip: The best resource and advice for aspiring farmers is to talk to as many farmers as you can! Connecting with farms and farmers through work experience or just conversation is invaluable.
Mahalo nui loa 
Pu'u O Hoku Ranch and Jennifer Hawkins
Western Region Sustainable Agriculture and Research Education Program (WSARE)
WSARE Grants
Western SARE provides grants in several categories. Each of these grants is available at specific times of the year. Applying online for a grant is a simple step-by-step process. Please read each grant's specific Calls for Proposals.
Grant writing webinars were held in September 2021 for Farmer/Rancher and Professional + Producer. Please view these webinars as your prepare your proposal.
A farmer or rancher (lead) and an agricultural professional (technical advisor) work together to develop a project that conducts both research and outreach on a sustainable agriculture topic. $25,000 limit ($29,900 limit with three or more producers)/one to three years in scope.
Deadline: November 1, 2021
Click here to apply and for more information
Research to Grassroots
RGR projects take the research results from previously funded SARE projects and bring those results into the field through education to ag professionals and producers. Each RGR proposal must include a team made up of producers, ag professionals, and possibly researchers. Representatives from land grant Universities, NGOs, agency employees, or producers may lead the project. $100,000 limit/one to three years in scope.
Deadline: November 17, 2021
Click here to apply and for more information
Professional + Producer
An agricultural professional (lead) collaborates with producers to develop a project that conducts both research and outreach on a sustainable agriculture topic. $75,000 limit/one-three years in scope.
Deadline: November 3, 2021
Click here to apply and for more information
Sabbatical Research & Education
Sabbatical Grants provide an opportunity for faculty around the world to partner with farmers, ranchers, agricultural professionals, and researchers of the Western U.S. region. Projects focused on unexplored topics in underserved communities and understudied geographic locations are of special interest. $75,000 limit/one year in scope.
Deadline: November 18, 2021
Click here to apply and for more information
Fresh Growth Podcast
Fresh Growth: Approaches to a More Sustainable Future from Western Ag Practitioners introduces you to farmers and ranchers from around the western United States who are finding innovative sustainable practices that enrich the natural resources we all care about. These successful multi-generational operations experiment with new ideas and are making it pay.
Listen in as wheat growers at, Diamond S Farms, discuss the benefits they have seen using no-till practices.
Getting the Diagnosis Right: Guam Workshop Focuses on Foliar Fungal Diseases
In farming, as in medicine, an accurate diagnosis is critical. For a doctor to prescribe the correct treatment, they need to know the specific disease causing a patient’s symptoms. The same is true for growers. When they see disease symptoms in a field, they need to know the underlying cause in order to correctly treat their crop.
A recent workshop in Guam helped improve the ability of agricultural professionals and others in the Pacific islands to make those diagnoses. Funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the four-day workshop trained 14 people from Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands on how to identify fungal leaf pathogens and the diseases they cause.
SARE and state Extension services produce a variety of how-to publications, bulletins, and project reports.

Western SARE Quick Guides distill this information into a short, easy-to-digest format. They are intended as a supplement to these more extensive publications.
Click here for more information
Since 1988, the WSARE program has been supporting agricultural profitability, environmental integrity and community strength through grants that enable cutting-edge research and education to open windows on sustainability across the West, including Hawai'i. The goals of WSARE are:
  • Promote good stewardship of our natural resources.
  • Enhance the quality of life of farmers and ranchers and ensure the viability of rural communities.
  • Protect the health and safety of those involved in food and farm systems.
  • Promote crop, livestock and enterprise diversification.
  • Examine the regional, economic, social and environmental implications of adopting sustainable agriculture practices and systems.
For more information, please see: or contact Hawai'i WSARE co-coordinators 
This e-publication has been prepared by CTAHR research scientists and extension staff to deliver science-based information about sustainable and organic production systems to serve Hawai'i's farming community.

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Mahalo nui loa,
Eric Collier Education Specialist and Managing Editor
Sharon Wages & Jensen Uyeda WSARE Content Reviewers
Jari Sugano & Giselle Bryant Editors Emeritus and Reviewers
Ted Radovich Editor-in-Chief
Sustainable and Organic Agriculture Program 
Cooperative Extension Service 
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
On-line version of newsletter as well as archived issues available at:  
CTAHR Sustainable and Organic Program
at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Dr. Theodore Radovich
The university is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution providing programs and services to the people of Hawai‘i without regard to race, sex, gender identity and expression, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, arrest and court record, sexual orientation, or status as a covered veteran. 
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