Ag connection

KALAHEO — Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers’ 27th annual conference begins today, with an orientation in Hilo, and ends on Sept. 29, with tours of Kauai’s nurseries and gardens, as well as some hands-on learning at National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Mini-conferences on each of the islands take up most of the eight-day event, and ending it on Kauai is a way to leave an impression, said Ken Love, executive director of HTFG.

“Everyone loves Kauai, and what better way for first time visitors to leave a lasting memory than a look at NTBG,” Love said. “For me, someone who’s been to parks and gardens in 50-plus countries, it is still one of the most beautiful spots on earth.”

It’s also a way to connect with the agriculture industry on Kauai.

“Kauai has a large number of members working toward island and state sustainability and is an integral part of HTFG,” he said.

On Sept. 29, the Kauai mini-conference begins at 9:45 a.m. with a tour of Kauai Nursery and a talk on fruit tree grafting. Lunch follows, and then attendees will meet at NTBG at 2 p.m. for the remainder of the day.

Pruning a section of fruit trees at NTBG dedicated to HTFG is one of the main items on the afternoon’s agenda, according to Robert Paull, with HTFG who is helping organize the event.

“There is a repository for HTFG at NTBG, a section of different speices of fruit trees that we’re keeping as a genetic repository,” Paull said. “We’ll be doing some work on them.”

A potluck dinner will follow, with speakers and coffee breaks peppered in between.

For those just wishing to join the Kauai mini-conference, the cost is $60; with $50 of that going toward a HTFG membership, and the other portion going toward registration for the mini-conference.

During the conference, agricultural researchers and experts will be sharing information in sessions revolving around the theme of “Facing Challenges.”

Seminars include a talk on huanglongbing and the U.S. citrus industry by Ed Stover, a talk on durian cultivation around the world by Lindsay Basik, and history and geology of citrus by David Karp.

“(It’s) a way to keep growers and affiliates up to date with the latest trends, technology and marketing techniques,” Love said.

Updates from the University of Hawaii, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Agriculture Statistics Service, are also on the docket, as well as farm tours, networking opportunities and fruit tasting.

The conference kicks off today with HTFG board meeting and networking sessions in Hilo, as well as Stover’s talk in the evening.

A trade show starts on Saturday, Sept. 23 with talks and agency updates, including a welcome from Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

The Kona portion of the conference wraps up Sunday and Monday, with farm tours.

Maui hosts conference attendees on Sept. 26, they go to Molokai on Sept. 27, a tour of Oahu’s farms is on Sept. 28 and the conference wraps up with a morning tour of NTBG and evening speakers.

Registration forms and a fee schedule are at www.HTFG.org, or by contacting Love at kenlove@hawaiiantel.net or Mark Suiso at suiso@aloha.net.

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