Recent storms damaged crops, produce shortage affects farmers markets

Nalo Farms

The recent storms that have hit Hawaii are starting to affect the produce you buy.

We first told you about a huge drop in local pumpkin production because of the heavy rains.

Now, we’re learning Mother Nature is putting a damper on other crops in the state.

At Nalo Farms in East Oahu, the weeds are growing faster than the vegetables.

“Right now we’re not making money, that’s for sure,” said Dean Okimoto of Nalo Farms.

Okimoto says the weather damaged crops, such as lettuce and other herbs.

Many of the vegetables that remain at Nalo Farms are actually damaged. For example, the daikon, or radish, is rotten.

“We haven’t been to farmers markets for almost two weeks. We probably won’t be there for at least another two weeks. That’s seven markets a week,” Okimoto said.

The company hasn’t been able to supply any of the stores either, only restaurants. The company is down between $80,000 and $90,000 a month.

Over at Aloun Farms, pumpkin production has been cut in half.

“This year, only a few of the early crops that we planted got pollinated before Aug. 24, which was the first day of the three weeks of rain,” said Alec Sou with Aloun Farms.

Usually up to 150 acres are grown, and the timing couldn’t be worse with Halloween just around the corner.

“A lot of families might have to elect to take some (pumpkins that are) not 100-percent orange. You might have to take some greenish pumpkins that eventually will turn by the 31st,” Sou said.

But Aloun Farms says its annual Pumpkin Festival will go on.

Many farmers are evaluating prices right now and say they could bump up prices on locally grown products, but not by much.

“If the island is hit with another big storm, what would happen?” KHON2 asked.

“I don’t know. You might see some farmers go out of business,” Okimoto said.

The shortage was evident Wednesday evening at the Honolulu Farmers Market at Neal Blaisdell Center.

Walking around, we only saw three vendors selling fresh produce.

All of them said the pickings are much slimmer these days as a result of the series of storms that have passed through the islands over the last several weeks.

“Yes, this rain going on now, the vegetables are overwatered and they’re not doing really well, so we’re hoping the weather will clear up and we’ll have better farming and produce again,” said Les Pang of Otsuji Farms.

In the meantime, Pang says he’s not going to raise prices as he considers the farmers market a community benefit. He says he just has much less product to offer.

Pang also said if sunnier weather continues, many local farmers should see a return to a more normal yield in a few weeks time.

Honolulu Farmers Market at Neal Blaisdell Center
Honolulu Farmers Market at Neal Blaisdell Center

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