A whopper of a taro; Massive corm could be headed for the record books

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The Big Island could soon be home to the world’s biggest taro.

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The Big Island could soon be home to the world’s biggest taro.

A 17.73-pound taro corm grown by a group of farmers and cultural practitioners is being submitted to Guinness World Records.

The taro is more than twice the size of the current Heaviest Taro record-holder, a 7.03-pound corm grown in Minyang, Fuding City, located in Fujian province in China. That corm was weighed in October 2009 at Taimu Mountain Scenic Spot.

Taro usually weighs between 1 and 2 pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The record-shattering corm took 26 months to grow, said Dave Sansone, lead gardener in the Ke Kipi Kalo project. Ke Kipi Kalo is an ongoing effort to develop restorative agro-forestry models by using traditional Hawaiian methods as well as newer techniques such as natural Korean farming.

“We let nature do the work,” Sansone said. “They just keep getting bigger, the more I’ve refined the system.”

Last year, he said, he grew a 12.5-pound corm but decided not to submit that one for Guinness consideration because the 17.73-pounder was still growing.

“This variety is known for being able to last a long time in the ground,” Sansone said.

The variety is Iliuaua, which is known for its productivity.

But don’t expect any poi to be made from the corm.

“It’s not exactly the most delicious taro,” Sansone said. “It’s on the low end of texture and taste.”

Shortly after harvesting the giant taro in late October, Sansone entered it in a makahiki taro competition in Keaukaha.

“It won the Big Taro (award), but not the overall because it didn’t have the taste and flavor,” he said.

The taro was weighed for Guinness consideration last week on a certified scale donated by Scale Systems of Hawaii.

Agronomist Susan Miyasaka of the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, who researches taro varieties and growing techniques, served as a specialty witness to the weighing.

CTAHR extension forester J.B. Friday also served as a witness.

The verification process includes submitting photographs and video from the weighing (the group also submitted one of Miyasaka’s peer-reviewed taro papers to show that she is an expert in the field).

Sansone said he wasn’t sure of the timeline for processing the submitted paperwork, but expects to hear back within the next two months.

“There’s another one coming along that, next year, looks like it might be bigger,” he said.

Other members of Ke Kipi Kalo are Kuali‘i Camara, Keahi Tajon, Lakea Trask and Drake Weinert.

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Hawaii Island also is home to a Guinness World Record for Largest Sunglasses Collection. Betty Webster of Waimea earned that nod last year for her collection of more than 1,500 pairs of shades.

Email Ivy Ashe at iashe@hawaiitribune-herald.com.