Wet weather impacts local crops, could lead to fewer options for consumers

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You could be seeing fewer locally grown fruits, vegetables, and even certain kinds of flowers in stores.

Farmers said the recent bouts of wet weather are to blame.

Crops like leafy greens, papaya, mango and even taro are impacted according to Dean Okimoto, president of Nalo Farms.

Plants need rain to grow, but too much of it can damage crops. Okimoto said his 14-acre farm in Waimanalo was hit hard. 

“When we get five to six inches of rain and then we get one week of sunshine, which brings in fungus, and by that time we would have replanted. And then we get hit with another five inches of rain, which is what’s been happening, right almost every other week. Yeah, it gets really hard,” Okimoto explained.

Okimoto was standing next to a half-acre of his crops and said the entire area wouldn’t be harvested because of fungus and other damage.

He said he could lose more than $100,000.

“So, you pay for the seeds and it gets washed away or they don’t germinate because of the rain and you’ve got to replant so it’s that added cost of replanting,” Okimoto said.

He primarily grows greens, but other crops are also impacted, like papaya, mango and even the flower industry.

Monty Pereira, the general manager at Watanabe Floral, said the rain has affected tropical flower production locally.

“If you’re looking for specific anthuriums, or specific ginger, or specific heliconia, those have been sporadic. Or if you need an abundance of sunflowers, that’s also been problematic,” Pereira said. “Right now since we’re not in our extremely busy time, it’s not having quite the impact that it will if this doesn’t correct itself, say before Mother’s Day in a month.” 

For consumers, it means fewer choices.

“You’re going to see less product out there,” Okimoto said. “The product might not last as long as normal because, like I said, when you get plenty rain, you get some damage to the shelf life of the vegetables also. It lessens shelf life because the plants are weaker.”

Okimoto said he thinks more farmers will start looking into greenhouse growing, because it allows them to control their environment.

For now, more rain may be on the horizon. NOAA predicts a wetter-than-normal May and June.
     

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