Kai Guava orchard a free pick for Kilauea visitors

KILAUEA, Hawaii -- The Kai Guava orchard and processing plant here is open to the public for free picking.

Guava are sweet, soft, round and dimpled fruit about the size of a tennis ball.

Visitors can wander in parts of the 450 acres of guava trees and pick all the fruit they want. The orchard is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

There are 43,650 guava trees in the orchard.

To find the place, visitors passing through the town of Kilauea simply need to look for the giant, fake guava on the side of the highway and turn there.

The orchard has a processing plant and a gift shop with guava jam and a store with guava ice cream. Visitors can even watch a video showing how the guava are processed.

The guava at the orchard is called Beaumont guava, developed by the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture. They have bright pink fruit with an edible rind. Wild guava, by contrast, have fruit meat that ranges in color from white to yellow to pink.

Guava trees like water. They can survive in areas with up to 200 inches of rainfall per year. The Kilauea area of Kauai gets about 100 inches of rain per year, and during the dry part of the summer, the guava trees are given 50 gallons of water per day, per tree.

Sucking up all that water produces a lot of fruit. According to Kai Guava, a "mature tree can yield up to 300 pounds of fruit per harvest cycle, allowing for a crop potential of 30,000 to 60,000 pounds per acre."

If visitors are lucky, they can see guava being processed on site. They will learn that guava are handpicked by workers who each pick up to 1,600 pounds of fruit per day.

The guava first are cleaned by automatic, high-pressure sprayers and then handsorted. They are then disintegrated in a stainless steel disintegrator.

A pulper removes the seeds and a finisher presses the puree through a fine screen. Only then is the pure guava puree ready for packaging.

For details, call Kai Guava at (808) 828-1761.

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