Coffee (rain, flowers, fruit); late season mangoes; dragon fruit

Happy Halloween! To the theme, and following on my earlier pig story, here’s a good one: sneaky swine strolls into drug store in search of Halloween treats.

We just had a little bit of coffee flowering a few days ago. Flowers only last a few days. I didn’t take the picture when a few nice branches popped for me, and today I had a hard time finding some, especially mid-day (the flowers are easier to see in morning light).

I can trace back why we had flowers, to the day. August through October we’ve had a reasonable number of days of rain, but usually a small amount, under half an inch, and often barely measurable. The dry season started early, probably due to El Niño. And then October 19 we received almost an inch, when we hadn’t received that much in a day since August 1. About a week after a good rain after a dry period, we get flowers.

My friend was feeling mildly overwhelmed. She’s barely able to keep up with picking the coffee cherry, and then it’s already flowering again, reminding you they’re coming back. At least it’ll be about seven months later.

Normally we’d get flowers, maybe in December, likely January, but the big flowering usually happens February and March. It’s 210-220 days later that we’ll get cherry. So October 19 means we’ll have a small amount of cherry in May. It’ll probably just be a little bit of fruit. Since coffee berry borer (CBB) beetle lays eggs in the berry, for that small amount, it’d be best if we just do a sanitation pick. Pick the fruit and dispose of it. Remove potential beetle nursery homes.

Three weeks after the last picking, we need to pick again. This harvest can be traced back to the big flowering we had around April 7, the flowering that happened 210-220 days ago.

This less than usual amount of rain, and sometimes dry periods, have stressed the trees. We’re starting to see a little bit of coffee leaf rust again. I’m hoping we’ll have rain in November. In 2021 when we had very little rain in both October and November AND the new coffee leaf rust, the trees suffered badly, resulting in our low yield in the 2021-2022 season. That’s why we had nothing to offer by March this year.

On another note, a friend and I visited Susie and Terry Weaver’s farm to pick up some fruit. My friend had been there once, but hadn’t been doing the driving, and she wasn’t super confident she’d remember exactly where to go. We were prepared for it to be a bit of an adventure, a truck being useful to get down the long bumpy farm road to their packing plant. If you have a subscription to West Hawaii Today, you can read an old article from 2017 about the Weavers’ farm.

They still had some mangoes, which is the end of the usual fruiting period. But they had some last year in December, too. We seem to increasingly have outliers from normal. Someday I will have to take UH over to look at their beautifully pruned mango trees. Their mangoes are just the best!! And their dragonfruit, too. They sell their fruit wholesale to ChoiceMART in Captain Cook and Nestor at the farmers market across from Hale Halawai. We were going to buy some off-grade mangoes and pick up some dried fruit that they occasionally sell to friends. There were several boxes of dragon fruit headed to Ola Brew. I know they have an IPA and a hard cider that use dragon fruit. They spoke highly of Ola Brew being a great supporter, wholesale customer of local farmers.

I’ll end my writing with a divergence, because I find it interesting. Kona Brewing Company isn’t the company you might imagine it to be. You probably suspected when you could find cases of bottled Kona Brewing beers at Costcos on the mainland. There was a class-action false labeling lawsuit in 2017 about whether its beer was actually brewed in Hawai’i or not. If you’re interested, research Kona Brewing Company. I thought I found an article that was going to compare Kona Brewing to Ola Brew, but I found an interesting article from February 2023 about two Kona Brewing companies instead. Once again, I started with coffee and veered quite a ways away …

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