Founded in 1895, the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association (HSPA), dedicated to improving the sugar industry in Hawaii, has become an internationally recognized research center. Its name change in 1996 to Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC) reflects its expanding scope to encompass research in forestry, coffee, forage, vegetable crops, tropical fruits, and many other diversified crops in addition to sugarcane. HARC is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. HARC specializes in horticultural crop research including agronomy and plant nutrition, plant physiology, breeding, genetic engineering and tissue culture, and control of diseases and pests through integrated pest management. HARC also performs pesticide registration work; training in areas such as pesticide application and environmental compliance; ground water monitoring; and technical literature searches.
In addition to serving Hawaii's agricultural industries through research and immediate response teams to solve problems, HARC helps other local, national, and international organizations meet their research, on-site consulting, and training needs.
HARC offers a wide array of agricultural services. Mainland seed companies take advantage of Hawaii's favorable weather conditions by utilizing HARC's field and nursery services for winter growouts, seed increases, and testing. The analytical chemistry laboratory specializes in residue studies conducted according to EPA Good Laboratory Practices.
In 2008, HARC's Experiment Station laboratories and administrative offices relocated from the Robert L. Cushing Building in Aiea, Hawaii to Kunia, Hawaii. The modern laboratories are equipped with state of the art instrumentation and equipment to meet the needs of its staff of agronomists, weed scientists, pathologists, physiologists, molecular biologists, horticulturists, plant breeders, sugar technologists, chemists and conservationists. An excellent technical library located in the building supports the researchers. Corporate records, correspondences, cultivation contracts, financial records, personnel and payroll records, production records, and miscellaneous records in some cases going back to 1850 and in varying degrees of completeness for numerous plantations were donated to the University of Hawaii at Manoa Library, which created the HSPA Plantation Archives.
HARC operates a breeding substation with a greenhouse for plant breeding and variety development in windward Oahu and a forestry substation on the island of Hawaii.
A support facility, secluded in the back of Kunia Village, is ideal for agriculture-related retreats, meetings, workshops, and overnight accommodations.
History of Hawaii Agriculture Research Center
A. R. Grammer's "A History of the Experiment Station of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, 1895-1945" was published in The Hawaiian Planters' Record, Volume LI, Nos. 3 and 4, pages 177-228 (1947). It was followed by D. J Heinz and R. V. Osgood's "Agricultural Progress Through Cooperation and Science, 1946-1996", published in the final issue of The Hawaiian Planters' Record, Volume 61, Issue 3, pages 1-105 (2009). Reports can be found here.
For more information on the history of sugarcane in Hawaii click here to visit the Temple University Libraries' website and the dissertation of Lawrence Kessler entitled "Planter's Paradise: Nature, Culture, and Hawai'i's Sugarcane Plantations."