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From King Cane to the Last Sugar MillAgricultural Technology and the Making of Hawaii's Premier Crop$
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C. Allan Jones and Robert V. Osgood

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780824840006

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824840006.001.0001

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Drip Irrigation and New Disease Resistant Varieties Save HC&S—1970 to 2014

Drip Irrigation and New Disease Resistant Varieties Save HC&S—1970 to 2014

(p.180) 5 Drip Irrigation and New Disease Resistant Varieties Save HC&S—1970 to 2014
From King Cane to the Last Sugar Mill

C. Allan Jones

Robert V. Osgood

University of Hawai'i Press

The Hawai‘i sugar industry remained profitable into early-1970s. However, unstable government programs and sugar prices caused thirteen companies to close between 1970 and 1980. HC&S and other irrigated plantations converted to drip irrigation, increasing yields and reducing costs. HSPA research helped plantations become more efficient and explored diversification into other crops and products. Electricity generated through the burning of bagasse became a more important byproduct of the plantations. Though government sugar programs stabilized, inflation continued to eat away at profits and competition from other sweeteners dampened demand for sucrose. By 1997 only five companies remained, and by 2011 HC&S was the last mill standing. Facing legal challenges to its historical water rights and use of pre-harvest cane fires, HC&S has continued to seek operating efficiencies and conduct research on energy crops. But will HC&S remain profitable in a constantly changing economic, political, and regulatory environment? Will it be able to keep Central Maui green and productive, like the sugar industry has for 150 years?

Keywords:   drip irrigation, federal price supports, cane fires, water rights, ethanol, energy crops electricity, diversification

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