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Saturday, April 01, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Saturday, April 1, 2023

Catimor is a hybrid coffee that could replace local coffee trees devastated by Coffee Leaf Rust.
Catimor and several other hybrids are being tested for distribution here. Photo from typescoffee.com

NEW HOPE FOR NEW VARIETIES OF COFFEE TREES is coming from University of Hawai'i, which has been growing, harvesting and collecting data on Coffee Leaf Rust-resistant varieties of coffee plants. Rust is devastating farms in Kona and has spread to Kaʻū. 
    The resistant varieties are Catimor hybrids, False Tup and Obata. According to typescoffee.com,  Catamor "is a hybrid coffee variety that was developed in Portugal in the late 1960s. It's a cross between the Timor Hybrid and Caturra varieties, and is known for its high yields, disease resistance, and good cup quality. Catimor is widely grown in Central and South America, as well as in India and Indonesia."
Andrea Kawabata
    According to Andrea Kawabata, of U.H. Agricultural Extension Service, the testing for Hawai'i has gone on for two seasons, keeping track of the yield and cherry size data and cupping the coffee from the trees. It's taking place at the UH Kona Research Station in Kainaliu. The next cupping is this month.   
    Kaʻū farmers interested in the Catimor hybrid project can review a recorded presentation at https://youtu.be/11-ytPT2jFU.
    Regarding the testing of the resistant varieties, Kawabata reports that CLR has not caused sporulating lesions on any of the 20 of trees and eight of the top Catimor hybrid trees have been confirmed by USDA ARS PBARC as CLR-resistant. "Two seasons of observations and harvests have also given us a better understanding of the top producing and top quality trees from this field. In addition, we have False Tupi and Obata varieties which are also showing resistance to CLR," said Kawabata.
   Kawabata said that the researchers are ready to determine if growers are interested in receiving plant materials from these top Catimor hybrid trees, False Tupi, and/or Obata trees, and how growers prefer to receive the plant materials if they are made available to the industry.
    While distributing seed or plant materials to the industry has not begun, a survey is set up to help determine next steps. Kawabata asks farmers to "please complete this survey and provide us with your feedback." She noted that the survey is open to all coffee producers in Hawai'i, but is not anonymous. Contact Kawabata at andreak@hawaii.edu, 808-322-4892, or 415-604-1511 (text ok).

Coffee Leaf Rust has devastated Kona coffee farms and spread to Kaʻū. Resistant varieties are
being tested by University of Hawai'i for distribution here. Photo from U.H.

FEDERAL CREDITS OF $8.1 MILLION WENT TO THOUSANDS OF HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS this year to reduce their energy bills, about $2.5 million more than last year, says a statement from the utility.
   More than 7,500 residential customers across the five islands Hawaiian Electric serves received credits from the Hawaiʻi Department of Human Services’(DHS) Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. Customers with household incomes below a certain level apply for a one-time credit on their electric bills to help offset energy costs. The $8.1 million LIHEAP total received includes additional monies for applicants through various COVID relief funds.
    The minimum Energy Credit was $550, and the amount of the credit varies each year based on factors including income level, total number of people per eligible household and available funds. For the Energy Crisis Intervention credit, the amount varies depending on the customer’s past due balance.
    “Our goal is to keep customers connected, and LIHEAP credits provide welcome relief for thousands of households,” said Brendan Bailey, Hawaiian Electric vice president of customer service. “With the cost of just about everything on the rise, LIHEAP and other assistance programs can make a significant impact.”
    DHS LIHEAP Coordinator Elisa Furtado-Fischer said, “We know how critically important this program is for so many Hawaiʻi residents. It takes many partners, including nonprofit agencies and Hawaiian Electric, to provide this much needed energy assistance.” LIHEAP Energy Credit applications are taken annually only during the month of June by Honolulu Community Action Program, Maui Economic Opportunity and Hawaiʻi County Economic Opportunity Council. LIHEAP Energy Crisis Intervention applications are accepted year-round for households facing service disconnection, but there is a limited number of approvals granted each month. For more information visit hawaiianelectric.com/liheap.
EIGHTEEN WERE ARRESTED FOR DUI from March 20 through March 26. Hawai‘i Island police made the arrests for driving under the influence of an intoxicant. Three of the drivers were involved in a traffic accident. None were under the age of 21. So far this year, there have been 248 DUI arrests
compared with 266 during the same period last year, a decrease of 6.8 percent. Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section reviewed all updated crashes and found 220 major crashes so far this year compared with 172 during the same period last year, an increase of 27.9 percent.
    To date, there have been four fatal crashes, resulting in five fatalities, (Rvsd. 02/07/23: one fatal crash reclassified—manner of death was due to natural causes) and (one fatal crash had multiple deaths); compared with nine fatal crashes, resulting in 11 fatalities (one of which had multiple deaths) for the same time last year. This represents a decrease of 55.6 percent for fatal crashes, and 54.5 percent for fatalities.

LATERALLY DIRECTED ERUPTIONS are the subject of this week's Volcano Watch column by USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists and affiliates:
     The 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption in Washington State illustrated the hazards and impacts of lateral (ground-hugging) volcanic blasts on natural landscapes and human infrastructure. The eruption devastated hundreds of square miles and killed 57 people. In the more than forty years since, several additional laterally directed explosive eruptions have occurred world-wide.
    An eruption at Ontake, Japan in 2014 showed the tragic impacts of laterally directed eruptions in near vent environments. But lateral eruptions at volcanoes are not only confined to the main eruption blast. Hot gas, ash, and mud can flow laterally from a mostly vertical eruption located in confining topography (like a valley) focusing ground-hugging volcanic flows (known as pyroclastic density currents) which may impact the near vent environment even for small eruptions. If a valley or other topography exists, these types of flows can move several miles from the eruption vent. In some cases, such events can produce mudflows, called lahars, which can be particularly dangerous even farther (tens of miles) from the source of the eruption.
The experiment was completed in 2016 and included a setup to measure
 acoustic signals from human-made blasts which could improve our
understanding and early detection of real volcanic eruptions. The upper left
 image shows a simple plastic soda-pop bottle being filled with super cold liquid
 nitrogen. The bottle is subsequently sealed with a cap and placed in the
 ambient water-filled barrel. The difference in temperatures between the bottle
 and barrel water causes a rapid discharge explosion (lower left image)
 which is recorded on a pressure sensor near the cannon. Each waveform (right)
 shows a different eruption experiment.
Images from video by Julian Thompson, formerly GNS Science. 
    Due to the devastating impacts, these events can have on nearby areas, the global volcano monitoring community wants to improve the detection and characterization of hazards posed by explosive eruptions using automated sensors like seismometers and microphones for early warning systems.
    A new preliminary field-scale experiment was recently completed by a U.S. and New Zealand research team, where the energy characteristics of a human-made ‘volcanic’ eruption was measured on a surrounding microphone ‘acoustic’ recording system. The experiment used a tiltable water cannon which was surrounded by pressure sensors like those used for volcano monitoring, both globally and here at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO). The scientists wanted to determine if there were differences in the sound measured in the direction of the eruption blast, compared to the sounds measured behind the cannon. These differences may give scientists insight into the eruption processes and better understand the hazards associated with real ground-hugging eruptions.
    The figure shows an example explosion from the inclined water cannon experiment. The barrel is comprised of a standard 55-gallon drum with one end open, filled one-third full of water at ambient temperature. A sealed soda-pop bottle filled with liquid nitrogen is dropped into the water. Because the liquid nitrogen is at a temperature of -196 degrees Celsius (-320 degrees Fahrenheit), it will expand in the

warmer surrounding water. Shortly after the bottle is immersed, it rapidly bursts, producing a small, controlled explosion. Normally an explosion would expand in all directions, but because the bottle is at the bottom of an open-ended barrel, the energy is focused out of the barrel opening. The preferential direction of energy expansion and the explosion direction is then recorded on the surrounding sensors.
    Each experiment was recorded with video cameras facing in three unique directions to document the blast direction and speed. Vertically directed blasts were found to have similar acoustic recordings on all the surrounding microphones. For more ground-hugging eruptions, the experiments suggest that the strongest blasts show higher frequency energy in the direction of the blast while lower frequency energy is recorded behind the blast source (in this case the cannon).
    While more tests are required, the observations might reflect features of eruption blast dynamics that can be used as part of future eruption detection systems near hazardous eruption vents. The observational data may also have implications for hazardous mass flow events including pyroclastic-flows and lahar monitoring. While our Hawaiian volcanoes have fewer explosive eruptions in general, the observation results may be useful to understand the lateral migration of our Hawaiian fissure eruptions.
    If you want to learn more about this experiment, check out this recent publication in Earth, Planets, and Space!