along Mamalahoa Highway, the high and winding mountain road that traverses
the Kona coffee belt, one can see a countless number of coffee farms.
Some of these farms are tucked into a landscape draped in overgrown
vegetation and shadowed by towering trees. Others brandish large iron
gates at the front and are surrounded by acres of elaborate rock walls.
And yet others are no more than the front or back yard of a gentleman
farmer and his wife trying to make a little extra money for Christmas
or an overdue vacation.
George Yasuda’s trees exemplify good
health and proper nutrition.
What is evident
is that the Kona coffee industry is now comprised of hundreds of independent
farmers of varying size, age and business outlook. While some of these
farmers are newcomers who have come to escape a hectic life of business
on the mainland, others have descended from families that have been
growing coffee for generations. From the very large twenty-five, fifty
and one hundred acre estates to the smaller farms consisting of only
a few hundred trees I see orchards of trees with varying looks, character,
and health. Some farms contain a mix of beautiful old and knotted stumps
that have endured a century of weather, prunings, and harvests. These
trees, as old as they are, still put out cherry every fall and stand
now as living monuments to the enduring coffee industry in Kona.
In many cases
though I see farms planted in younger trees staggered across the landscape
in no particular manner. In most cases their branches are devoid of
the dark, oily, pointed green leaves that are intended to provide for
the tree's growth and production of fruit. While these trees have the
ability to put forth quality Kona coffee many of these orchards are
yielding a crop far less than their potential. For farmers who rely
either solely or substantially on the annual income derived from their
coffee yield, an orchard of beleaguered trees may be very disheartening.
Some say that it is simply the result of a diverse industry comprised
of many different growers and growing techniques.
Right to left: Samo Lemus Vargas,
Ignacio Ramirez and Enrique Lemus Vargas of Tiare Lani Coffee. Without
careful attention to planting techniques a healthy and vibrant orchard
is not possible.
It is impossible
to ignore the orchards in Kona that have an almost surreal or utopic
look to them. Trees stand over eight feet tall, every dark green leaf
is spaced perfectly on branches that reach out in rapid growth; and
flowers and coffee cherry are in massive size, number, and quality.
Many of these orchards, planted and maintained for the maximum production
of coffee, are overseen by expert coffee grower and consultant, George
Utilizing a vast
array of techniques including special pruning, planting, and tree nutrient
program an orchard can be transformed into a vibrant and very productive
coffee farm. When you visit one of Yasuda's orchards it is difficult
to imagine why someone would choose to not use his techniques. Perhaps
the two best descriptives to use when referring to one of his orchards
are health and abundance.
Ignacio Ramirez prunes the roots
on this new coffee tree.
Weighing in the
annual harvest from his farms has proven that Yasuda's coffee orchards
more than double the industry average for production, and produce larger
and healthier beans. From lower elevations to higher elevations Yasuda
understands what is required with the different conditions that exist
from farm to farm. His interest in detail is clearly visible as farms
are laid out in a manner that utilizes every square foot of land. Even
the sun direction plays a part in how the rows of coffee are laid out.
the importance of a diverse eco system Yasuda also selects certain trees,
mostly ohia, to stand above the orchards he plants allowing for the
native bird population to co-exist with the coffee. For many in Kona
his services have provided a way to stay ahead of the competition as
well as to maximize the farmer's investment in not only the land but
time and effort that is needed to grow Kona coffee...... all very important
aspects for a farmer seeking to compete in today's business of growing
and selling coffee.
While I have toured
many farms in Kona, I have yet to see a farm that rivals Yasuda's. George,
having been born and raised in Kona, is eager to help other farmers
struggling with their orchards and for those who are just starting out.
I could recommend no one better. George's expertise in coffee growing
has extended out beyond the Kona region. He has successfully helped
farmers in Maui, the Hamakua region of the Big Island and now the Island
Jim and Vicki Wickersham of Vikiwiki
Yasuda's professional consulting we have exceeded our expectations of
Kona coffee cherry production both in the size of the bean and total
poundage. The George Yasuda new style of planting nursery raised kona
coffee trees in rows; first year pruning; and fertilization program
our coffee farm has doubled the cherry production from our old-style
existing kona coffee trees.
Jim and Vicki
Vikiwiki Kona Coffee
I met George
after reading in your 2000 Spring/Summer issue of Coffee Times about
his remarkable track record of producing high yields of top quality
Kona coffee. At the time, Anita and I were interested in either buying
an existing coffee farm or developing one from scratch. George gave
us a lengthy tour of his farms and patiently explained his approach
to producing high-quality Kona coffee. His obvious enthusiasm for and
love of all aspects Kona coffee was infectious and convinced us to develop
Aloha Moku Hale Malu Farms.
Jim Robinette of Aloha Moku Hale
Located at an
elevation of 1,000 feet in Kealakekua, our farm has 24 acres, 18 of
which are planted with about 14,000 trees. The first were planted in
April, 2001, are already seven feet tall, and have the deep, rich, green
color of a very healthy coffee orchard. Their robust growth has produced
strong roots that have withstood the heavy rains and severe windstorms
during the past year. George estimates that during this fall's harvest
the yield of many of our trees planted last April and May will be 10
to 12 pounds of cherry per tree. Not bad for the first year, considering
the average yield is about seven pounds per tree for all trees of all
ages on the 600+ farms in the Kona coffee belt!
results are a direct consequence of George's excellent orchard installation
and maintenance techniques. The land was first bulldozed and graded
before the extensive drip irrigation system was installed. Using surveyor's
tools, George then laid out the rows such that the trees line up with
symmetrical precision, making the orchard esthetically pleasing. His
dedication to precise farm layout was confirmed when the farm was re-surveyed
after the planting was completed and a deviation of less than an inch
was found in the rows of coffee.
Healthy tree growth (foreground)
and a neighboring orchard of unhealthy tree growth (background).
The trees were
selected from a reliable nursery, carefully planted, and properly pruned.
Under George's guidance, the proper amounts of water and fertilizer
as well as trace amounts of minerals have been applied consistently
to promote robust growth. Periodic shoot removal, careful monitoring
to ensure the irrigation system works properly, and mowing frequently
also contribute to the health of the orchard.
Kona coffee of the highest quality on his own farms, as do the farms
of his many clients. His calm, professional approach makes him a delight
to work with and learn from. It's a privilege to count him as a colleague
and friend. I recommend him without hesitation to anyone interested
in growing and producing coffee of the highest order.
Jim and Anita
Aloha Moku Hale Malu Farms
High Quality Way
By George Yasuda
A Kona coffee orchard should not be haphazardly planned,
planted, and maintained. A poorly designed and installed orchard would
have limited production, high tree loss, poor fruit quality, short tree
life, and would be harder to maintain; it would also be unsightly.
On the other hand, a well designed and installed
orchard will have high production, high quality coffee and healthy long
living trees. It will also be easier to maintain, be a delight aesthetically,
and a pleasure to own. To achieve an awesome orchard it takes more than
just planting a tree in the ground. It involves several other things:
using proven techniques; doing it right from the beginning to the very
end; not cutting corners; and using optimum quality proven products.
Doing it right also saves you a lot of time, money, and headaches.
Also beware of quality "imitations." Imitations
can be in the form of: inferior coffee plants, inferior coffee orchard
growing techniques, and ineffective fertilizers. Coffee orchards should
produce high quality coffee for decades and even for more than a century
if done correctly. The beautiful orchards developed by George Yasuda
of Tiare Lani Coffee are of awesome quality. Let the orchards such as
those in these photographs speak for themselves.
The "proof is in the pudding": beautiful
productive trees laden with high quality beans that brew into superb
tasting coffee. And the fringe benefit is the pleasantry of enjoying
and owning an awesome high quality coffee orchard.
6 months old trees 5 feet tall
Two year old trees with 35 pounds of
cherry per year
One year old trees with 12 pounds of cherry per tree.
Trees are 8 ft. tall.
Large, plump, defect free cherries
from Tiare Lani Coffee trees.
Two year old trees with 30 pounds of cherry per tree.
One year old trees with 11 pounds of cherry per tree.
Trees are 9 ft. tall.