Kauai sugar cane harvests to end

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Maui Hawaii Lic. # RB-20941

Gay & Robinson announced this week that late October would mark the end of sugar cane production on Kauai.  All other companies had previously exited the business so this is the end for what was once Kauai's main agricultural crop.  Annual burning of sugar cane fields as shown in the photo produced widespread smoke and ash but it was accepted because of the desire to keep much of the island's land in agriculture.  Perhaps it is fitting that there is a partial rainbow over the smoke in the photo below.

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Photo of sugar cane burning for harvest

There is still a possibility that sugar cane could be grown in the future for production of ethanol fuels but the infrastructure for that is not currently in place.  Source of this information is today's Garden Island Newspaper.

Many are surprised to learn that the new dominate crop is seed corn.  However this is much smaller in scale and does not need the extensive acreage of sugar cane.  Also, there is local resistance to this business because of fears about genetic modification so the jury is still out on its future. 


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Richard T. Dolbeare, R(B) photo


Richard T. Dolbeare, R(B)

Keller Williams Realty(808) 651-4550


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Martin Kalisker
Greater Boston Association of REALTORS - Boston, MA
Professional Standards & Legal Assistant

That's a shame to hear.  I loved seeing the old sugar cane factory as I drove from Lihue to Koloa and Poipu.  When I was in Maui earlier this month, I was happy to see the active harvesting of the sugar cane fields.  Sure, there is a lot of foul smelling smoke and steam, dirt on the roads from the trucks, and some traffic congestion - but it was nice to see none the less.  With tourism on the Islands falling to record lows, it's great to see that agriculture is still a viable industry on these beautiful islands.


Sep 24, 2009 03:07 AM #1
Judith Reppert
United Country Countryside Realty - Mount Vernon, MO

I have only been to Kauai as a tourist years ago, but I was lucky enough to meet a local that took me out bike riding around a bit.  The fields, the factory, and if I recall correctly, a big pile of "leftovers" were all very interesting to see.

So did cheaper beet sugar have a bearing on this?

Sep 24, 2009 03:29 AM #2
Richard T. Dolbeare
Keller Williams Realty Maui - Kahului, HI
R(B), ABR, CRS...Hawaii Multi-Island Specialist

I see that both of you are familiar with our island and with tourism down, this could be a good time to visit again.

The reason for closing boils down to being a money-losing operation.  That's because of low sugar prices and high fuel costs.  I don't think beet sugar is being substituted but rather that of foreign supplies.


Sep 24, 2009 03:57 AM #3
Jeff&Grace Safrin
F.C.Tucker 1st Team Real Estate - Valparaiso, IN

awesome photo Richard - We've never been to Kauai but it's on our list :) Can't believe corn (which is abundant in NW Indiana)  is the new dominate crop!



Sep 24, 2009 08:08 AM #4
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Richard T. Dolbeare

R(B), ABR, CRS...Hawaii Multi-Island Specialist
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