[Beginners Guide] How To Grow Cacao In Hawaii - Agrolearner.com
How To Grow Cacao In Hawaii

[Beginners Guide] How To Grow Cacao In Hawaii

Cacao (Theobroma cacao) is a tropical tree cultivated for its edible fruit, cocoa beans. It is native to the Amazon Basin and has been grown in many parts of the world, including Hawaii. Hawaii is an ideal location for growing cacao due to its mild climate, adequate rainfall, and suitable soil.

For cacao to thrive in Hawaii, careful consideration must be taken when selecting the ideal location, acquiring the best cacao variety, preparing the planting site, and timing the planting. Additionally, fertilizer application, watering, pruning, weed management, and harvesting must also be taken into account.

This guide is compiled to provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to grow cacao in Hawaii and ensure that you also join those profiting from the venture.

How To Grow Cacao In Hawaii Step By Step Guide

Cacao is a tropical crop that can be grown in Hawaii, where the climate and soils are ideal for cultivation. To successfully grow cacao in Hawaii, there are certain steps to follow.

Step 1. Selecting the Ideal Location

When selecting an ideal location to plant cacao in Hawaii, you need to take some considerations into account. Bear in mind that cacao is grown in full sun, shade can limit the growth of the cacao trees, so it is important to ensure that the site is exposed to full sun.

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The soil in the location should be fertile well-draining, have good drainage, be rich in organic matter, and have a pH balance between 5.5 and 6.5 and it is important to maintain adequate levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the soil. The trees are sensitive to drought and must be watered regularly.

Also, it is important to consider the impact of wind on the cacao trees. Wind can cause the trees to dry out and can also damage fragile flowers and fruit. Windbreaks should be planted around the planting site to protect the trees.

Step 2. Acquiring the Best Cacao Variety

Cacao production in Hawaii is largely dependent on the type of cultivar used. The majority of the cacao grown in Hawaii is of the Criollo variety, which is highly sought after for its flavor and aroma. Other varieties such as Forastero, Trinitario, Catimor, and Nacional

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Step 3. Preparing the Planting Site

Soil preparation is a key step in growing cacao in Hawaii. Before planting, it is important to remove weeds and debris from the planting site. This can be done by hand or with a tiller, and the soil should be worked to a depth of 6-8 inches. After this, the soil should be amended with compost, manure, and other organic matter, to increase its fertility and improve drainage.

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Step 4. Timely Planting

It is also important to ensure adequate spacing between plants, as overcrowding can lead to disease and poor yields. The optimal spacing should be between 8-12 feet between rows and trees, and 3-5 feet between trees.

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Step 5. Fertilizer Application

To give the cacao trees the best start possible, mix in compost or chemical fertilizer into the soil before planting. This will help the trees get the nutrients they need to grow.

The fertilizer or compost can be applied by side-dressing the soil just at the base of the plant. Water immediately to allow the soil supplement to drain deep into the soil reaching the plant root.

Step 6. Watering

Cacao trees require frequent and consistent irrigation to produce a high-quality crop. Make sure the soil is kept moist, and water the trees deeply at least once a week.

Provide adequate irrigation to the cacao trees, especially in the absence of rain or dry season farming. A drip irrigation system should be installed and maintained to ensure that the trees receive the water they need.

Step 7. Pruning

Prune the trees regularly to remove dead or diseased branches. This will help keep the trees healthy and help promote new growth.

Step 8. Weed Control and Mulching

One of the most common methods of weed control is mechanical control, such as tilling, mowing, and hand weeding. Tilling is the most common method used in Hawaii, as it is easy to do, relatively inexpensive, and effective when done regularly. Hand weeding is an effective way to control weeds in small areas, but it is time-consuming and can be expensive.

The use of herbicides is another option for weed management in cacao production. Herbicides are effective at controlling weeds,

Mulching the planting site to suppress weeds, conserve moisture, and reduce soil erosion. Organic mulches such as shredded bark, wood chips, or straw are best, as they will break down over time and add organic matter to the soil.

Step 9: Pest and Disease Control

Pest and disease control is essential for the successful production of cacao in Hawaii. The key to controlling these pests and diseases is to implement an integrated pest management (IPM) program that utilizes a combination of biological, cultural, and chemical control methods.

Biological control of pests and diseases can be accomplished by introducing natural predators and parasites that feed on the targeted pest or disease. For example, the introduction of ladybugs to a cacao orchard can help reduce the population of aphids and scale insects.

Cultural control measures involve manipulating the growing environment to reduce the incidence of pests and diseases. This includes proper pruning, monitoring soil health and fertility, and controlling irrigation levels.

Chemical control methods include the use of insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. In Hawaii, it is important to use low-toxicity products that are compatible with organic production systems.

Step 10. Harvesting

You need to be patient when it comes to harvesting cacao. It may take up to three years for the trees to reach maturity, so you must be aware of when the best time to harvest is, to get the highest quality beans.

The beans are usually a deep reddish-brown color when they are ready, and the tree will usually produce multiple harvests per year.

You can harvest the ripe pods by collecting them either by hand or with a tool such as a machete. Once they are collected, they need to be dried in the sun for several days before they can be stored in an airtight container.

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Varieties of Cacao in Hawaii

There are several varieties of cacao that can be grown in Hawaii. Some of the most popular ones include Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario.

Criollo is a high-quality variety of cacao with a delicate flavor profile, while Forastero is a more robust variety that is resistant to disease and pests.

Trinitario is a hybrid variety that combines the best qualities of both Criollo and Forastero.

Other varieties that are grown in Hawaii include the Nacional, Matina, and Amelonado.

How Much Is Cacao Sold In Hawaii

The price of cacao in Hawaii varies depending on the quality and demand. According to a 2019 report by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the average price per pound of dried cacao beans ranged from $3.50 to $5.00, depending on the grade and the buyer. Some specialty buyers may offer a higher price for high-quality cacao beans.

Best Agronomic Practices to Engage In Growing Cacao in Hawaii

To grow cacao in Hawaii, it is important to follow best agronomic practices. Some of these practices include:

  1. Choosing the right site with well-draining soil and good sunlight exposure
  2. Planting cacao seedlings in a shaded area to protect them from the hot sun
  3. Irrigating regularly to maintain soil moisture levels
  4. Fertilizing with a balanced blend of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium
  5. Controlling pests and diseases through regular monitoring and proper management practices
  6. Pruning to promote good tree structure and fruit production.

Projected Profit of Cacao in Hawaii

The projected profit of cacao in Hawaii depends on several factors, including the yield, quality, and price of the cacao beans.

According to a 2019 report by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the average yield per acre of cacao was 800 pounds of dried beans, and the average price per pound ranged from $3.50 to $5.00.

Based on these numbers, a farmer could potentially earn between $2,800 to $4,000 per acre.

Common Diseases and Pest of Cacao in Hawaii

Cacao in Hawaii is susceptible to several diseases and pests, including:

  1. Black pod disease, which can cause the fruit to rot and reduce yield
  2. Phytophthora pod rot, which can cause the fruit to decay
  3. Vascular streak dieback, which can cause the tree to die
  4. Mealybugs, which can suck sap from the tree and reduce yield
  5. Cacao pod borer, which can damage the fruit and reduce yield

To control these pests and diseases, you should practice good sanitation, use resistant varieties, and apply appropriate pesticides when necessary.

Different Propagation Method of Cacao in Hawaii

There are several propagation methods that can be used to grow cacao in Hawaii, including:

  1. Seed propagation, which involves planting seeds directly into the soil
  2. Vegetative propagation, which involves using cuttings or grafting to propagate the plant
  3. Tissue culture propagation, which involves growing cacao plantlets from small pieces of tissue in a sterile laboratory environment.
  4. Each propagation method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of method depends on the goals of the grower and the resources available.

Does Cacao Grow In Hawaii

Yes, cacao is being grown on all of the Hawaiian Islands, making Hawaii the only place in North America where this crop can be cultivated.

Cacao Tree

The cacao tree is a tropical evergreen tree native to Central and South America. It is the source of cocoa beans, which are used to make cocoa and chocolate. Cacao trees are small and grow to about 12-25 feet in height.

Cacao leaves are large and glossy, and the flowers are often small and white. The fruit of the cacao tree is a pod that is typically yellow or orange when ripe. Inside the pod are cocoa beans, which are then processed to make cocoa and chocolate.

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How To Grow Cacao Beans

Cacao beans are a source of chocolate, and they can be grown in tropical regions. Growing cacao beans requires a hot, humid climate and plenty of rainfall. The beans should be grown in partial shade, with protection from strong winds.

To grow cacao beans, you will need to start with fresh seeds from a trusted source. Plant the seeds in rich, well-draining soil that’s slightly acidic. Place the seeds about 2-4 inches deep, and cover them with soil. Water the soil adequately to help keep the soil moist.

Cacao beans will take about 5-6 months to mature, and can be harvested when the pods turn yellow or orange. The beans should be removed from the pods, dried in the sun until they turn dark brown, and then stored in a cool, dry place.

When processed, cacao beans can be used to make chocolate, cocoa powder, and other products. With proper care, growing cacao beans can be a rewarding experience.

Cacao Beans

Typically, the cacao beans are the dried and fermented seeds of the cacao tree. They are the main ingredient in chocolate and cocoa products. They have a rich, nutty flavor and are used to make a variety of products, including cocoa powder, cocoa butter, chocolate bars, and more. Cacao beans are packed with nutrients and antioxidants, making them a great addition to any diet.

How To Grow Cacao Seeds

Cacao seeds can be grown from fresh or dried seeds. To grow them from fresh seeds, you need to first remove the white fleshy coating from the outside of the seed. Once the flesh is removed, the seeds should be planted in moist, well-draining soil.

The soil should be kept moist but not overly wet. The seeds should be planted approximately 1-2 inches deep and should be spaced approximately 4-6 inches apart. Once the seeds have been planted, they should be placed in a warm, bright area with indirect sunlight.

The seeds should be watered regularly to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Once the seedlings are established, they can be transplanted outdoors in a warm climate.

What Is Cacao

Cacao is the dried and partially fermented fatty seed of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted. Cacao has been consumed by humans for thousands of years and is a key ingredient in many chocolate products.

How To Grow Cacao At Home

  1. Start by purchasing cacao tree seeds either from a local store or through an online shop.
  2. Plant your cacao seeds in small containers filled with nutrient-rich potting soil. Make sure to keep the containers in a warm and humid environment.
  3. Place the containers in an area with bright, indirect sunlight.
  4. Keep the soil evenly moist but be careful not to overwater.
  5. When the seedlings reach around 6-10 inches in height, transfer them to larger containers.
  6. Prune the trees every few months to help promote growth and health.
  7. After about 3-4 years, your cacao tree should be ready to bear fruit.

Can I Grow Cacao In California

Yes, you can grow cacao in California, but it’s not recommended. California does not have the ideal climate for the cacao tree, and it is sensitive to frost. It is also difficult to find cacao varieties that are adapted to California’s climate.

If you still want to give it a try, look for a cacao variety that is resistant to frost and humidity, such as the ‘Trinitario’ variety.

Cacao Pods For Sale

Cacao pods are the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree, and they are the source of all chocolate. Cacao pods are available for purchase in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Typically, they are harvested when they are ripe and sold fresh, although they can also be dried and sold as a powder. Cacao pods are often used to make beverages, desserts, and chocolate products.

They can also be used in various dishes and desserts, such as chocolate mousse, truffles, and cakes.


I believe you will find this material helpful in growing cacao in Hawaii. All the steps and added information about the agricultural activity have been extensively discussed here to help you successfully start your cacao farm in Hawaii. Ensure you follow the step from beginning to end as directed here.

Author: David

David is a Kenyan farmer from the rural village of Nairobi. Growing up, he was surrounded by the beauty of the Kenyan countryside, which sparked his passion for farming. After completing his education, he decided to pursue a career in agriculture and has since dedicated his life to providing food for his local community. David is an experienced farmer and is experienced in a range of agricultural practices, including crop rotation, animal husbandry and soil management. He is passionate about promoting sustainable agriculture and is actively working to reduce food insecurity in his community.

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