We now have about 50 cacao trees at our cacao orchard on the Big Island of Hawaii. The age of trees ranges from a couple of month to 5 years old. The following pictures shows the older part of the orchard.
As you can see the vegetation is quite lush. We planted several varieties of banana, palm tree and bamboo to provide the cacao trees with wind and sun protection. Some of trees start to carry large amounts of fruit. Note that color of the pods varies from tree to tree. They change color as they ripen. The red pods turn into a very bright orange when they are ready to be harvested. The green pods in the following gallery turn yellow when ripe.
In the newer parts of the orchard the vegetation is lighter, partially based on age, partially because we decided that we kind of overdid the protection in the old part of the orchard. The cuttings you see at the base of the trees are suckers that were pruned.
In addition to the cacao trees we also have some mangoes, plantains, macadamia nuts, mountain apples, sapote, avocado, star fruit, lime, surinam cherries, papaya, coffee, lychee, passion fruit, pineapple and more.
One of our latest additions is cane sugar which also provides some wind protection. If we could make our own sugar, we would be able to grow almost all ingredients that we use in our chocolate bars. Now we just need some cows for the milk powder to be used in our milk chocolate bars…
Disregarding the constant fight against weeds which seem to grow faster then anything else, there also wildlife to deal with. The electric fence keeps feral pigs away. They love to dig up the bananas and other tasty treats like tomatoes.
And then there are bugs. Particularly annoying is the Chinese Rose Beetle. It eats the leaves of the cacao trees. Mature trees can deal with this but the young trees (which we call keikis) can die if too much of their foliage is eaten.
When we plant keikis we protect them from the beetles by putting a wire cage around them. The cage is also lined with a canvas to give the keikis additional wind and sun protection.
When trees have grown enough to crown it is time to remove the cage. Here are some picture from the newest part of the orchard.
Finally, we also grow the beautiful flowers that you see in the product pictures of our chocolate bars. Aloha!