About Maui Gold® Pineapple
Who grows Maui Gold®?
Maui Gold® is grown exclusively by Maui Gold Pineapple Company. Locally owned and operated, Maui Gold Pineapple Company was created by former Maui Pineapple Company employees who were committed to saving the 100 year tradition of pineapple on Maui. As skilled local farmers, we have been cultivating the Maui Gold® variety for over 25 years. Although there are many "Gold" options available on the market, they're not equally sweet and delicious. The quality of the land and the quality of the grower are directly linked to the quality of the pineapple. We strive for perfection in all three.
Where is Maui Gold® grown?
Maui Gold® pineapple is grown across 1,350 acres on the slopes of Haleakala. Maui Gold Pineapple Company's main farming operation, together with its packing facility and administrative offices, is located in Hali‘imaile at an elevation of 1,100 feet. This small plantation town - which is also home to Bev Gannon's Hali‘imaile General Store - has been an integral part of the pineapple community since the 1930s. Our idyllic location in upcountry Maui provides the perfect growing conditions for Maui Gold®: warm sunny days, cool nights, fresh water and rich volcanic soil.
How long does it take to grow a Maui Gold® pineapple?
Although it takes a full 18 months to grow a Maui Gold® pineapple, the fruit is perfectly ripe in the field for only 48-72 hours. Once picked, pineapples will not ripen further. Since quality is our main concern, we focus our harvesting efforts entirely on that 2-3 day window. We are the only pineapple growers in Hawai‘i with employees solely dedicated to assessing sweetness and consistency in the weeks prior to harvest. As a result, our Maui Gold® pineapples are always hand picked at the optimal stage of ripeness.
Why does Maui Gold® pineapple taste so good?
Maui Gold® pineapple is famous for its extra sweet flavor and low acidity. These characteristics were developed over several years by traditional horticulturalists who crossed hundreds of natural pineapple varieties in the search for the best tasting fruit.
The story begins in the 1930s when the pineapple canning industry was huge throughout the islands of Hawai‘i. At the time, there were three major players: Maui Pineapple Company, Dole, and Del Monte. The three companies joined together to fund the Pineapple Research Institute at the University of Hawai‘i, which attracted some of the best agriculturalists from around the world. In 1932, a group of Institute researchers made field expeditions to the jungles of Africa and South America searching for wild varieties of pineapple. They were looking for natural characteristics of disease resistance, plant heartiness, and high acidity - qualities most suitable for the high volume pineapple canning industry. The scientists returned with a wide range of examples that formed the base for their traditional breeding program.
For fifty years, the scientists systematically crossed these different varieties at research stations throughout Hawai‘i. Because the pineapple genotype is so large, cross pollination results in wide number of offspring with many different characteristics. Just as two parents can produce a short, blonde haired child with green eyes and a tall, brown haired child with brown eyes, each pineapple cross can produce significantly different fruit with regard to taste, heartiness, size, shape, etc. Each pineapple cross would produce hundreds of seeds; every seed was then planted in a nursery, given a number, raised into a pineapple, and then evaluated. Those plants selected for further development were subjected to several years of production testing under different growing conditions. As a result, it took several years to find and develop new varieties suitable for large scale farming.
The Maui Gold® that we eat today, formally known as PRI (Pineapple Research Institute) variety 73-50 originated from a cross made at the university in 1973. Although the objective of the Pineapple Research Institute was to find the best canning variety, one of the lead agriculturalists, Dr. David Williams, decided that if he ever found a plant that was suitable for fresh fruit, he would save it. For canning, the fruit is selected for its high acidity because it extends the shelf life of the fruit. The pineapple suitable for canning and the pineapple suitable for eating are completely different. In 1973, Dr. Williams noted the 50th and 114th cross of two parents had unusually favorable fresh characteristics: low acidity, extra sweet flavor, and 3 times the daily USDA requirements for vitamin C. After years of hard work, the Institute had produced the sweetest and most flavorful pineapple in the world.
In 1986, the Pineapple Research Institute closed and Dr. David Williams became a full time employee of Maui Pineapple Company where he continued to develop fresh fruit varieties until his retirement in 1992. Maui Pineapple Co. began growing variety 73-50 in 1988 and named it Maui Gold®. As the locally owned and operated successor to Maui Pine, Maui Gold Pineapple Company continues to produce and sell Maui Gold® to pineapple lovers around the world.
What makes Maui Gold® different from all the other "Gold" pineapples on the market?
Although all the Gold pineapples on the market are some variation of 73-50 and 73-114, they don't all taste the same. These particular varieties are very difficult to grow in a way that maximizes the fruit's naturally sweet flavor. Their genetic makeup makes them unusually susceptible to stresses such as drought, soil pathogens, and fluctuations in nutrition and temperature. Any sort of stress can trigger the plant to fruit out of cycle before it's fully ripe and ready to eat. In addition, because the pineapple genotype is so large, the environment affects the flavor profile of each successive generation of seed. As a result, it's important to grow Gold pineapples in a location that enhances the natural qualities of the fruit and maintains its superior taste.
The expert farmers at Maui Gold Pineapple Company, most of whom worked for Maui Pineapple Company when the Gold variety was discovered, have been cultivating this pineapple for over 25 years. They have developed a number of innovative techniques to keep the plant happy and ensure that Maui Gold® pineapples are always hand picked at optimum ripeness. A clean fallow keeps the fields free of soil pathogens; a comprehensive irrigation system combined with tropical rains ensure the fruit is always well watered, the warm sunny days and cool Maui nights provide the perfect temperature range, and the rich volcanic soil provides the nutritional qualities the variety craves. When you buy a Maui Gold® pineapple, you can be confident that it was carefully raised by skilled, devoted farmers in the most naturally advantageous location in the world: Maui, Hawai‘i.