Ginger root harvest down 49 percent

Hawaii’s ginger root harvested 7.4 million pounds during the 2002/03 season, down 49 percent from the previous season.

Farm prices doubled to an average of 60 cents per pound during that time span and total farm revenues increased 3 percent to $4.4 million.

The major factors for the low production were disease and low prices.

Untimely showers once again hampered ginger root harvesting in the windward areas of Hawaii island and fostered the proliferation of disease. Losses due to bacterial wilt varied by location, but the disease was mainly responsible for lowering the overall Statewide yield to an average of 37,000 pounds per acre, the lowest average in 10 years.

Farmers also cited relatively low prices as a deterrent to harvesting and planting ginger root despite a general rise in farm prices from the previous season.

Farm prices ranged from 35 cents per pound to over 50 cents per pound during the 2002/03 season for regular ginger root, compared to as low as 20 cents per pound in the previous season.

Statewide, the average farm price doubled to 60 cents per pound largely due to higher returns received by organic growers.

Farm revenues increased 3 percent from the 2001/02 season to $4.4 million, but this was still the second lowest total in 19 seasons.

In recent years, production was at its highest peak in 1998 and 2001. In those years, 720 acres were harvested.

Farm prices have moved up and down between the 1973/74 and 2002/03 seasons.

These shifts in prices were generally the results of local production changes as well as foreign competition in the export market. The longest sustained period was from 1979 to 1982 which culminated in a still record high farm price of 92.3 cents per pound.

The value of farms increased at an average annual rate of 11 percent over the past 30 seasons. Most of the growth in farm revenues were in the ‘70s and ‘80s when increased production more than offset fluctuating farm prices.

However, recently revenues have fallen as market prices dropped significantly due to increased imports of relatively inexpensive ginger root from China.

Forecasts call for harvested ginger root acreage to decrease in the upcoming season.

Growers are expected to plant 150 acres for harvest during the 2003/04 season.

Based on the most recent 3-year average yield of 45,200 pounds per acre, the 2003/04 crop would result in a harvest of 6.78 million pounds, down 8 percent from the 2002/03 season.

Latest reports show that plantings in the Eastern portions of Hawaii island continued to make good progress. Adequate soil moisture and longer daylight hours were resulting in good growth. Disease and insect incidence was reportedly light.

In other crop news, vegetable crops were in fair to good condition after a month of trade wind weather during July.

The trade winds generated near-normal amounts of rain in the most windward areas.

Leeward and higher elevation areas, however, remained relatively dry with heavy irrigation helping to ensure normal growth.

July’s trade wind weather was interrupted during July 26-28 when thunderstorms and heavy showers fell over Hawaii, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

The heavy showers caused the Hanalei River to overflow and minor flooding of streams and roads in the eastern portion of the island.

However, no serious losses to agriculture were reported as a result of these heavy showers.

For 2002/03, Combined production of coffee on Kaua‘i, Mau‘i and Honolulu counties totaled 3.4 million pounds, down 31 percent from the previous year.

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