Coffee production in Hawaii is down this year due to weather and Coffee Berry Borer damage, according to a recent report from the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service.
Fred Cowell, Kauai Coffee Company general manager, told The Garden Island heavy rains during the peak of harvest season reduced total harvest yield this year.
“Because we’re mechanically harvested, the ability to get the machines in the field during the winter rains that we had November last year was a bit restricted,” he said. “Coffee doesn’t wait for the ground conditions to get right, so we basically watched some of our crop drop to the ground.”
In addition, Cowell said a lack of rain early last year forced Kauai Coffee to reduce acres in production.
“Differences in all the Hawaiian growing regions make it hard to comment on exact reasons statewide,” he said.
Tai Erum, operations manager for Blair Estate Farm, an estate that grows less than three acres of organic coffee, said coffee beans last summer started ripening much earlier and sporadically than expected.
“We did lose out on some of those,” he said. “Some of the beans, they would become ripe by late June. That’s pretty unusual. Right now all the beans are basically still green right now.”
According to the report, an estimated 34.7 million pounds of utilized production was harvested for the 2015-2016 season, a 5 percent decrease from last season, which was about 36.4 million pounds.
Cowell said he preferred not to release Kauai Coffee harvest numbers for this year.
Although acreage in Hawaii is down 900 acres, the report indicates that yield per acre is up 580 pounds from last year.
The drop in numbers also resulted in a drop in revenue.
The value of utilized production for coffee is estimated at $54.2 million for this season, 14 percent less than last season’s $62.6 million, according to the report.
According to data from HawaiiCoffeeIndustry.com, Kauai Coffee Company harvested 14.3 million pounds of coffee cherry from 3,000 total farm acres in the 2013-2014 season.
On its estate, Kauai Coffee has about four million trees. During harvest season, crews at Kauai Coffee harvests nearly half a million pounds of coffee cherries per day.
The Kauai Coffee farm is one of the largest estates in the United States, according to HawaiiCoffeeIndustry.com. The Kauai region produced more than half of all the coffee in Hawaii.