Mahi Pono Set to Begin First Plantings

Company narrows list of crops to grow on old HC&S sugar fields.

PUUNENE — Wind whipped through the central plains Wednesday morning and a team of Mahi Pono officials looked out at an expanse of empty land being worked by tractors.

As blades tilled the soil, this field signaled a turning point in agricultural history — from 150 years of sugar cane monocropping to an array of non-GMO crops to be used to bolster the county’s food supply.

The new season starts Friday when Mahi Pono, a joint venture between Pomona Farming and PSP Investments, holds a blessing and a first planting of red potatoes on about 40 acres in Puunene.

The planting will mark the first nonsugar crops going into the ground after the company purchased 41,000 acres of fallow fields from Alexander & Baldwin in December. After more than a century of production, A&B’s sugar endeavor, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., ceased Maui operations in 2016...

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