Posted on 23 Comments

The 2022 Harvest Season is Looking Great!

We’re a cou­ple of months into the har­vest by now, and the beans are com­ing in strong. It’s been a sea­son that starts ear­ly and ramps up slow­ly. The same is hap­pen­ing with the flow­ers: we got our first buds in late January, and although we’re pol­li­nat­ing every day, the num­ber of flow­ers we’re see­ing has increased slow­ly since then.

Unseasonably Dry Year

image of two vanilla flowers in shadow lit by the sun
The pale flow­ers open in the morn­ing sun

This year has brought an unusu­al peri­od of dry weath­er, which is affect­ing every­thing around the home­stead. Young vanil­la plants are espe­cial­ly vul­ner­a­ble and sev­er­al columns in the new vanillery have suf­fered set­backs and failed to grow. We’re tak­ing the unusu­al step of hav­ing to hand water to keep things grow­ing. Mature vanil­la plans are quite drought-resis­tant, but these new guys are hav­ing a hard time devel­op­ing the essen­tial feed­er roots need­ed for that kind of robustness.

In the main vanillery, insect pests that usu­al­ly don’t pose much of a prob­lem are set­ting up shop and doing some dam­age. We’re tak­ing care of that, but being an organ­ic grow­er means that what we need to do takes more work and time. It’s all about gen­tle and per­sis­tent mea­sures when you work with nature.

Yes, It’s Looking Great

Despite the chal­lenges, in gen­er­al the vanillery is thriv­ing and healthy, plen­ty of beans to har­vest for this year and the flower buds are every­where, sig­nal­ing anoth­er good crop in 2023.

23 thoughts on “The 2022 Harvest Season is Looking Great!

  1. Hi, I grow a few vanil­la vines on the northshore. Just start­ed sweat­ing about 2 lbs of beans using your guide­lines. Only I’m using a water heat­ed tow­el warmer in place of an ice chest, have it set at 115 degrees. I’m in my 3rd day, beans are brown, soft and moist but not sticky. Do I have a prob­lem ? Any advice. Thanks. Andy

    1. No, sounds good. How did you “kill” your beans? If you put them in the freez­er, then at first, there will be a lot of mois­ture that is most­ly water. This will be gone in 4–5 days as you’re giv­ing the beans some dry time every day. Beans that were killed in hot water don’t release as much mois­ture, so it has a thick­er consistency.

  2. Thanks, I had my beans in the freez­er till all beans were har­vest­ed, then thawed them in water as per your sug­ges­tions. Now in my 5th day of sweat­ing. When should the aro­ma of the beans change to more vanil­la smell.

    1. The vanil­la aro­ma devel­ops slow­ly over the course of the cur­ing process. After 5 days, it’s won’t real­ly smell like vanil­la yet.

      1. Thanks, I’m now in my 11th day of sweat­ing. You indi­cate it takes about 18 days to com­plete the sweat, what am I look­ing for on my beans to know the sweat is done.

        1. I always keep the beans in the sweat for at least 18 days, this is to ensure that the largest beans have enough time. You can go longer, I some­times go 2 or 3 days more, but usu­al­ly it’s just 18 days, then I move them to the open air dry­ing racks.

        2. I guess a more direct answer to your ques­tion is that I don’t look for any indi­ca­tion that they are “done” I just give them the time.

    2. Andy, after two weeks in the sweat box the beans smell musty and leath­ery but no vanil­la. After anoth­er cou­ple of weeks of the dry­ing process they start to smell like vanil­la. This inten­si­fies over the next two months of cur­ing and it becomes intox­i­cat­ing. I keep my beans in corked test tubes and take them out, mas­sage them, and let them breathe every few weeks.

      1. That’s great, sounds like things are going well with your curing!

  3. How can one get vanil­la extract

    1. We’ve got extract for sale in our store.

      Hawaiian Vanilla Extract

  4. Thank you for all the great information!

  5. Roland,
    I notice ants on my racemes. They appear not to harm the raceme or the flow­ers. Should I leave them alone or are they detri­men­tal to the health of my vanil­la plants.

    1. Hi Charles,

      It’s pret­ty com­mon to see ants on the racemes, and most­ly it’s not a prob­lem, but it is pos­si­ble they are farm­ing oth­er insects which can be dam­ag­ing, such as mealy­bugs. It’s a good idea to check every once in a while in place like under leaves or in places that are well pro­tect­ed and hard to see for insects tak­ing up residence.

  6. Is it pos­si­ble to do a vist / tour on a Saturday.

    1. Aloha Andy,

      Sorry, no we only lead tours on Fridays, tomorow is booked, so the next oppor­tu­ni­ty for a tour is July 8, between 12:30 and 4 is open.


  7. Hi Roland, it’s been awhile since I post­ed but you have been an amaz­ing resource for me here on Oahu doing a back­yard hob­by grow.

    Starting to har­vest the first of this years beans as they bare­ly begin to crack, try­ing the freez­er method this time.

    Different ques­tion. I had some beans from 2 years ago (No flow­ers in 2021) and I pureed 10 of them into a quart of vod­ka and jarred it. It’s been a week and it looks good, and smells good. But, no where online have I not­ed any­one doing extract like this and won­der what the neg­a­tives to it are. Seems like in 2 weeks the extract will be more potent than the extracts I soaked for months with pos­si­bly more beans.

    Thanks for any of your insights.


    1. We don’t puree the vanil­la to make extract. We’ve tried it and in the long run, it does­n’t extract more effi­cient­ly, and it makes it much hard­er to strain the beans out when it’s ready. If you’re get­ting good results, you’ve got some­thing you can use, that’s great…but if it was bet­ter than the usu­al meth­ods, I’d expect it to be more com­mon­ly used, since it would be so sim­ple and quick.

      1. Appreciate the insights. I sus­pect­ed some­thing like that since I found noth­ing in online lit­er­a­ture men­tion­ing it.

        I’ll see how it fil­ters with a gold cof­fee fil­ter in about a week.

  8. how much water do you add to your extract and when do you add the water?can you just use pure alcohol/vodka? are there pros and cons to using alco­hol water mix or pure alcohol.

    1. Hi Lana,

      We don’t add water, just use 80 proof vod­ka, which is of course 60% water. You need both water and alco­hol for a good extrac­tion, and 40% alco­hol is about optimal.

  9. Hello Roland,

    Quick ques­tion. My vines put out 6 flower stalks ini­tial­ly this year. Pollinated as usu­al, then about 2 months lat­er 11 more came. I was excit­ed, but many seemed to get a black rot at the tips and are now most­ly dead, some have a flower or 2 but the rest of the buds rotted.

    Do you rec­om­mend spray­ing the ini­tial stalk buds with any anti-fun­gal because I’m assum­ing it was a type of mold that killed them off.



    1. This sounds more like a sys­temic issue with a fun­gus, in oth­er words, it may be in the roots and affect­ing the whole plant. Do you see signs of dis­ease any­where else on the plant?

      An issue like that can’t be avoid­ed with a local appli­ca­tion of fungi­cide. If it is a gen­er­al fun­gal issue, it can be very hard to turn that around, and fungi­cides can’t reverse the prob­lem. Fungal infec­tions are typ­i­cal­ly due to sub-opti­mal grow­ing con­di­tions, but I can’t be too spe­cif­ic as I know noth­ing about how and where you are grow­ing your vanilla. 

      Vanilla requires a healthy, diverse com­mu­ni­ty of myc­or­rhizal fun­gi in the grow­ing medi­um, and fungi­cides tend to dis­rupt that. The grow­ing medi­um for vanil­la needs a lot of decay­ing organ­ic mat­ter (think trop­i­cal rain­for­est floor) that stays most­ly moist, although when thriv­ing, vanil­la is tol­er­ant of dry peri­ods as long as the roots are not exposed to the sun. If the prop­er con­di­tions are not met in the grow­ing medi­um, for­mer­ly ben­e­fi­cial fun­gi can become parasitic.

      If the prob­lem does not appear to be sys­temic, no signs of dis­ease any­where else on the plant, I sug­gest you pay close atten­tion to the grow­ing medi­um. Look for healthy feed­er roots from the vanilla. 

      In any case, adding a good qual­i­ty com­post or pot­ting soil to the grow­ing medi­um is a good idea, but not too deep, vanil­la roots like to stay on the sur­face of the soil, so don’t bury them too deep. A good myc­or­rhizal inoc­u­lant is a good idea to jump­start the fun­gal diversity.

      After that, just give the plant time to recov­er, it may take a year or more.

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