Saturday | April 25, 2015
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It’s time to plant corn on the Big island

Corn can be planted all year in Hawaii, giving gardeners three crops and possibly four. Now would be a good time to plant. One major complaint from backyard a grower is ears of corn with very few kernels; poor pollination being the most common cause. Since corn is wind pollinated, it needs to be densely planted in order to achieve good pollination. Planting a compact square or a dense circle will ensure better pollination than a few plants or long rows. The best recommendation is to plant a minimum of four rows about 8 feet long rather than one or two long rows. In addition, from pollination to harvest, corn needs adequate watering to insure full kernelled ears. Weather patterns can adversely affect corn crops: too much wind or heavy rains during the pollination period, or very dry weather. Corn varieties are classified into two groups, tropical and temperate. The tropical supersweet corns are bred in Hawaii. Popular ones include Supersweet #9 and #10. Be aware that many Mainland seed company catalogs list only the temperate hybrids: Bantam, Golden Cross and Jubilee; some of these are also found in local stores. These temperate varieties have, in general, been very disappointing when grown in Hawaii.


Are you familiar with the lanzones tree? What are the needs and requirements in order for it to thrive in the Big Island? I have one in the backyard, but the branches die and it looks tall not bushy. Thank you for your expertise. ERG

The lanzone tree (Lansium domesticum), also known as langsat, originated in Western Malaysia where it is considered one of the best fruits of the region. It is cultivated throughout the Archipelago and on the Island of Luzon in the Philippines.

The tree is grown along with coconut trees or mixed with durian and mangosteen to provide shade. It will thrive only in sheltered and humid environments particularly near sea level but also up to 2,000-2,500 feet. It does not tolerate long dry seasons. Trees prefer sandy loam soils with good drainage, rich in organic matter and slightly acidic. Lanzones dislikes sandy coastal soils and alkaline soils.

Trees are commonly grown from seeds and need to be planted within one or two days after removal from the fruit. Seedling trees bear in 12 to 20 years. Three applications a year of a balanced fertilizer (16-16-16) will provide good growth and productivity. The round fruit, about 1 to 2 inches in diameter, is commonly peeled and eaten fresh. It can also be candied and preserved in syrup. An astringent bark decoction is taken as a treatment for dysentery and malaria.

Is it safe to cut the tree in half, hoping that it will grow back? I cannot give you a definite answer in regard to the lanzone tree, but most fruit trees will respond favorably to pruning, even the removal of half the tree.

The disadvantage with too much pruning will be a delay in abundant fruit productivity. Go ahead and top it, but I would also recommend thinning out some of the branches.


Gardening Class

Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 28. I will be offering another gardening class, “Vegetables in the Home Garden.” The class is from 9:30 a.m.-noon at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Room UCB 114. Call 974-7664 or go online to register at Cost is $20.

Hilo resident Nick Sakovich is a professor emeritus of the University of California. He has worked in the field of agriculture for 30 years. Email your questions to Sakovich at