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Late harvest increases supplies of Kona coffee.

Late harvest increases supplies of Kona coffee

A suprisingly large late harvesting round has increased supplies of Kona coffee and precipitated a fall in both prices paid to farmers and by roasters. Late January usually finds most farmers pruning their trees and harvesting only the last small round of coffee cherries, but this January processing companies were still working at mid-season capacity. The late season harvest should push the total crop over 20,000 bags - conceivably reaching the 1986-87 harvest of 23,000 bags, the largest in 10 years.

Cherry prices paid to farmers, which reached a high of over $1.00 in October, began falling in December and should end the season in the 85 cent range. Processing companies found resistance when green prices rose above $6.50 and most of this season's coffee was sold in the $5.75 to $6.25 range for Kona No. 1. Supplies of green Kona coffee should be available for several more months and may even last until the new crop is available.

The increased harvest and higher prices will likely lead to a record farm income of over 10 million dollars for the first time in Kona's history. This is good news to an island economy desperately attempting to diversify its agriculture away from sugar cane, and trying to compete with a rapidly growing tourist industry for labor, land, and investment capital. Optimism for Kona coffee's future has been further reflected in continued new plantings and new entries in coffee processing and coffee roasting in Kona and Honolulu.

Green Kona coffee was shipped to a worldwide market, but the bulk of sales were once again to U.S. companies. The fastest growing sector of that market has been sales to the Hawaii visitor industry where Kona coffee is becoming an increasingly popular gift item, both as coffee and as flavorings for other foods such as candy and ice cream. Macadamia nut flavored Kona coffee is probably the fastest growing type of coffee sold, while gift packaging (often including a variety of Hawaiian food products) is the hottest display category.

January rains end drought,

increased crop size likely

After an extremely dry harvest season, Kona experienced heavy rains over the week of January 15 to 22 followed by a strong flowering over most of the region. Although the drought killed more than a few trees and weakened others, most orchards are expected to recover with little ill effect. Drought-related stress followed by a normal rainy season usually forecasts a large harvest since coffee trees subjected to this stress tend to flower heavily at one time, making harvesting easier. The January flowering will be harvested in late August, but it will be several months before the size of the 1990-91 crop can be predicted with accuracy. Early indications are that farmers will be fertilizing heavily.

Hawaiian air sale benefits

Molokai coffee development

The recent sale of Hawaiian Airlines to a group headed by former Baseball Commissioner Peter Uberroth had repercussions for the Hawaii coffee industry. John Magoon received more than $7 million for his controlling interest in the financially troubled airlines and immediately announced that he was investing a substantial portion of those proceeds in "Coffees of Hawaii," a company which has been researching the development of a coffee plantation on the island of Molokai. Magoon will become the principal stockholder and ceo of the company, which plans to develop a 400 acre coffee orchard which will be machine harvested.

The dates for this year's 20th Anniversary Kona Coffee Cultural Festival have been set by the Festival Committee. Activities will open November 3 and culminate November 10. For information, call Diane McGill at Kona Kai Farms, (808) 323-2911.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
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Author:Regli, Robert
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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