About the Project site:
Kawanui Farm is located at the 1,450 foot elevation on the western side of the Hualalai Volcano in the Kona District of Hawaii Island. The soil composition is rich basalt volcanic ash and the average rainfall is 42 inches but we have measured a low of 23 inches in 2003 and high of 123 inchesin 2004. In 2020, rainfall totals were more than 100 inches. In 2021 we have not experienced our usual Winter dry season. The farm faces southwest and the land is gently sloping. The vineyards use the modified Geneva Curtain style of grape trellis that has been sustainably built using old growth redwood from recycled water tanks. To my knowledge, we are the first modern age people to live on this land, so the soils have always been organic.
Project Summary: Although there have been many past attempts to grow table grapes in Hawaiʻi, locally grown grapes are not commonly available for sale, nor are plants or the grower information necessary for growing grapes in the subtropics. There is great potential to find varieties that can be successfully grown by market growers and home producers adding a new nutritional food for Hawaiʻi’s people, creating new growing information and a repository for grape scions,and developing an import substitution that will help diversify Hawaiʻi’s agricultural base.
Can this project find the right grape varieties that will successfully grow and thrive in the subtropics consistently producing delicious table grapes using organic practices?
Using a unique research model, that includes extensive investigation into the work of T.V. Munson,
Joseph L. Fennel, Lon Rombough, and FranciscoWallington-Linares, the project will choose 35 varieties available on the USDA GRIN Grape Repository at UC Davis that were successfully bred in semi-tropicaland subtropical regions, have wild grape genetics in their parent lines and have proven potential in Southern Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and theCaribbean. Using that information, and building upon the work of Ken Love and “Grapes for Tropical Hawaiʻi,” this project will vet these varieties at Kawanui Farm in Kona, Hawaiʻi.
The project will create a stakeholder group, blog updates, two virtual or in person on-farm field days, a booklet “Growing Table Grapes in Subtropical Hawaiʻi Using Organic Practices,” videos of presentations, and a repository for
successful varieties making them available to stakeholders yearly.