Vog wreaks havoc on Big Island farms

Dan Wegner
Dan Wegner

By Stephanie Lum - bio | email

KAU, BIG ISLAND (KHNL) -- For twenty five years, Dan Wegner's protea farm on the Big Island has been thriving. His business "Aloha Proteas" is one of the largest distributors of the flower in the state.

"We do some local sales most of our flowers are shipped to the mainland," said Dan Wegner.

Lately, business has been bad. Wegner blames the thick vog covering Ka'u and his farm.

He says it's been this way for the past four months ever since the vent opened up at Halemau'mau crater and it's killing his plants.

"They've all been hit by vog. The sulfur dioxide gets on the leaves and sits there and as soon as we get dew or rain it turns it into sulfuric acid and just burns it. It's like the acid battery that you have in your car. You wouldn't go dump that on your favorite plant," Wegner said.

Signs of the damaging effects of vog can be seen throughout his eleven acre farm.

Wegner estimates ninety percent of his crops are dead and close to a half a million dollars lost.

The only flowers left standing are his King Proteas but it's not enough to fill the orders and keep his business alive.

"I'm trying to pay my bills. I don't even have enough income from the farm now to pay my farm bills and it's going more that way every month and I can survive this for a little while but I need help", said Wegner.

Help has come in the form of vog disaster loans but Wegner says he has no money to pay back the loan considering the current state of his farm.

He and other local farmers are urging the government to offer grants to help them recover their losses.