Burning remains the most viable harvesting method

Recently, we have noted a number of writers who have commended Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. on its increased green (no-burn) harvesting. I’d like to explain how unusual weather patterns have impacted our harvesting practices this year.

For the safety and consideration of our neighbors, optimal weather conditions are required before a pre-harvest burn can be started.

Wind speed and direction, as well as atmospheric conditions such as inversion, vog and rainfall, are some of the factors that we must take into account. For much of our harvesting season this year, the unusual weather has forced us to adjust our harvesting practices.

Often unable to burn, we have had to turn to green harvest simply to get the crop out of the ground and to the mill. The consequences of these changes have been a slower crop processing, resulting in our harvesting season being extended, higher harvesting and milling costs, and lower sugar quality, which impacts the price we are paid for our sugar.

Given these impacts, we cannot sustain this practice and remain viable.

We continue to research alternate harvesting methods, but the burning process that we’ve used for over a century continues to be the viable means for the crop. Unlike other countries that are able to mechanically harvest, our unique climate, topography and geography limit our options.

To read my full letter, please see my post at

Thank you for your understanding. We share in your deep commitment to the island of Maui.

Mark Lopes

HC&S Harvesting and Land Preparation Manager