Dole Orchard in Waialua

Michael Conway (left), Manager of Tropical Crops, Dole Food Company of Hawaii
and H.C. ‘Skip’ Bittenbender (right)
Neem trees line the main road through the orchard to provide pest control and shade.


Established in 1998 on 18 acres, the orchard has Wiliwili tree wind breaks that provide shade in morning and afernoon sun. The orchard is only three feet above sea level so it is warm most of the year.

Cacao trees along the break of Wiliwili trees. Also Kukui nut trees surround the orchard to provide more shelter and shade.

The spacing between the cacao trees is about 8 feet. Michael feels that more intensive planting could also be successful. The trees would then provide shade to one another.

The cacao trees have put out a good harvest (3 tons of dried beans) in 2005 - seeming to like the stress of full sun during the day.

As the orchard was planted to experiment with different genetic stock, the resulting cacao harvest is a natural blend - as you can see by the diversity of pods in the bottom left picture.

Michael was able to use mechanical means to control the pests such as the rose beatle and rodents.

A very productive cacao tree

Fermenting is an art & a science depending on the time of the year and temperatures. Cacao beans are allowed to ferment anywhere from 6 - 9 days.

Beans are turned periodically to ensure an even temperature throughout the pile. Note that banana leaves are used to cover the beans in the fermentation process.

Fermentary at work. Note the sweet run-off of pulpy liquid as the beans ferment.


Drying beans need to be raked each day to ensure even drying until they reach a 7% moisture content.

Cacao bean harvest dries for 10 - 14 days then beans are stored for processing.

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